Business plans for small business: Why they need to be a working document

Many small business owners find the idea of writing business plans for small business quite overwhelming. However they do not need to be lengthy and complicated – it’s more important to create something that you can easily work with.

Business Coaching Insight:

Use the process of reviewing your business plan each year as an opportunity to do a business health check

The key point about having a business plan is that it becomes a working document – something that you use and refer to on a regular basis that keeps you focused on your business goals.

For many business owners that means keeping it simple. The simpler it is the more likely you are to use it. Even one or two pages is sufficient if it captures the essence of your vision and goals and keeps you focused and motivated.

Why does a business plan need reviewing?

There is no point having a business plan if it sits on a shelf getting dusty. This is the most important document in your business – it’s your reason for getting up in the morning and it brings purpose, direction and focus to your business.

Having a working document means that it is regularly reviewed and updated.

There are four key reasons why business plans for small business should be reviewed fairly regularly:

Business Health Check

When you go through the process of reviewing your business plan it will also cause you to stop and do a quick health check on your business. Are there warning signs that you need to pay attention to? For example, sales lack momentum, staff leaving, cashflow problems etc.

Things change

The longer you’re in business the more you learn. These new insights need to be fed back in to your business plan. There may also be changing external circumstances to take in to account such as new competitors entering the market, economic or legislative changes that affect your business etc.

You change

Your personal goals and priorities directly affect your business. So, as an example, when you first started out in business you may have thought working weekends was perfectly acceptable but now you’ve got a family so it’s not.

Do you need to make changes so that your business fits better with your personal life?

Your business is a part of your life but it’s not your whole life, so if things change in your personal life it may also have an impact on the business.

Human beings get stuck in a rut easily

Probably the most critical reason for reviewing your business plans for small business is that it prompts you to question how your business operates.

If you never question how things are going in your business a culture of ‘this is how things always get done around here’ tends to develop and this is not particularly good for the long-term health of your business.

Strong healthy businesses are constantly improving and innovating – reviewing your business plan is one way to formalize the process of questioning what you’re doing and considering what needs to change.

Reviewing your business plan

At least once a year business owners should review their business plans for small business and check if they’re still relevant or need changing. The beginning of a new calendar year is always a good time to acknowledge what you achieved last year and think about the year ahead.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you do this:

Business Coaching Questions:
  • Is your vision for the business the same/still relevant?
  • Is the business healthy and growing?
  • Have you achieved your goals? If not, what stopped you?
  • Are there aspects to this business that you don’t like?
  • Are you targeting the right niche?
  • Do you still have strong and compelling points of difference?
  • What’s your competitive edge?
  • What new opportunities are available to you?
  • What’s not working in your business right now?
  • What new unique business ideas can you develop?

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