Small Business Owner: Planning for Success

What should small business owners be doing in the last few months of the year?  Prepare for the holidays?  Run the business like always?  Among all the jobs that need to be completed, none is more important than crafting a detailed business plan for your company.

Beginning as early as October, every small business owner should start preparing for at least two types of business plans:  a detailed next year plan and a mid-term (3 or 5 year) plan.  In 2014, a national survey was conducted to small businesses, only a third of which reported that they have a formal business plan.  This is quite an astonishing figure.  Without a doubt, crafting a business plan will improve your chances of a sustainable and successful business.

More specifically, beginning as early as October, you should first start building or updating a 3 or 5 year plan.  This mid-term plan should focus on incorporating important strategic macro decisions as distribution channel and product expansions, financial management (debt/mortgage), and an ambitious sales goal to achieve.  By giving yourself a clear goal and a high-level picture to achieve it, you can plan accordingly and side-step potential obstacles that may be noticed ahead of time.  Sit down with your business partner, major manager, or a consultant/advisor and continue to craft the plan for 1-2 months at the end of year.

Another essential business plan is the short-term, next year plan.  By November, small businesses should have a fairly good grasp of how business went in that calendar year with concrete top and bottom-line figures available.  With the current year analyzed on what worked and what did not, the small business owner should start meticulously building a month by month plan for the following year.  This is by no means an easy task and should take weeks to complete.  Yet, with a solid game plan (sales goals, monthly events, marketing plan, employee plans, etc.), the business already has an edge over unplanned competitors.

Once you have the plans completed, it is extremely important to share them with your key employees and business partners in a formal presentation early in the New Year.  This will boost confidence and enthusiasm for the coming year, building a strong team to achieve the planned goals.