By Rieva Lesonsky
If you’ve survived the recent economic rollercoaster, your company probably no longer resembles the business you laid out in your business plan. After all, to make it in business today, small business owners need to be flexible and take your business where the trends lead you. Since you likely have a clearer idea now than you did when you started where you want your business to go, it’s a great time to revisit, update and pump a little Botox into your plan to smooth out the wrinkles. Even more important, if you’re looking to increase your business credit line or apply for a small business loan, a current business plan is required.
Let’s take a look at the main sections of your business plan: the executive summary, business description, market analysis, marketing strategy, operations and management, and financials. Most likely you’ve changed direction in one or more of these areas, and your business plan should reflect those changes.
Starting with the executive summary and the description, remember these sections might be the only parts of your plan potential investors actually read, so they need to be concise, descriptive and captivating. Describe what currently makes your business stand out from the competition, why your business idea works and who you are targeting as customers.
Then comes another critical element of your business plan—the market analysis. Most likely the market has changed drastically since you first conceived your idea. Perhaps your target market has been particularly hit hard and you need to refocus your product or service to reflect your customers’ declining income. Or maybe you’ve expanded to new geographic markets. Have your competitors changed since you first put together your business plan? Perhaps there has been consolidation in the industry and there are fewer players on the field. On the other hand, new players may be on the scene. Describe your competition’s strengths and weaknesses to show you know your market and thoroughly prove you understand where your opportunities lie. Then revamp your marketing plan based on these updated assessments.
Most likely you’ll need to do a serious overhaul of your financial projections and operations. Your business’s working capital needs have most definitely changed since you first started out. And if your business now requires a different support staff, list the new positions in our business plan. Or if you’ve eliminated one area of your business, you won’t need support staff in that area.
Don’t worry that things may still be in flux—if you keep on top of maintaining an accurate and updated business plan, you can always revisit your plan and pump new life into it in the future.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports