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Make a (Business) Plan for the New Year

December 27th, 2012 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

As 2012 draws to a close, how are you going to make sure 2013 is an even better year for your small business? One way is to pull your business plan out of the drawer (or up from your laptop) and take a look at it.

Many of us write a business plan when we first start our business, then put it away and never look at it again. Or perhaps you started your business without writing a formal plan, and it caught on so fast you didn’t need one (or so you thought). Unfortunately, without a “compass” for your business, you may find yourself ending up other than where you planned.

While in the past writing a business plan was a dreaded task, it’s become a lot easier with the advent of easy-to-use business plan software. (Check out MasterPlans, one of this site’s partners, for starters.) If you’ve never written a plan for your business, plugging your business’s information into these tools will give you a feeling of accomplishment and whet your appetite to actually complete your plan.

If you have written a business plan in the past, pull it out and go through each of the sections:

  • Company Description: Is this still accurate as to your form of business? Update your company history and any other information. If your business model has changed, spell out how and why.
  • Product or Service: Is the description of what you sell and the benefits to the customer still current?
  • Market Analysis: If your market, competition and target customers have changed, which they undoubtedly have, you’ll need to do some new market research and update this section.
  • Strategy and Implementation: Again, make sure your business strategy and the steps you will take to implement it is accurate and detailed, including dates, budgets and responsibilities of the management.
  • Management Team: Update this section as needed to reflect current roles, responsibilities, skills and accomplishments. Your team probably has a lot more under your belts than when you started your business.
  • Financial Analysis: Make sure financial statements are current and accurate.

Last, but not least, go through your Executive Summary and make sure it clearly reflects your business’s current position and future goals.

Still can’t bear to do your own plan? Get help from MasterPlans, one of this site’s partners, to have your plan professionally written or updated.

With your new plan in hand, you’ll have a useful guidebook to get you through 2013 in a more profitable fashion.

Image by Flickr user Calsidyrose (Creative Commons)



The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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