A well-thought-out business plan can be your best friend when your business is just starting out, and you are growing your business. It will guide you through the stages of starting your business, such as whether or not you need a business loan, as well as define how you plan to run and grow it. It doesn’t need to be a traditional business plan, and for some small businesses may be only one page long.
However, while you’re making your business plan, there are some other issues to consider, such as what to do when things don’t go as planned, new opportunities arrive, or growth isn’t fast enough. Will you stay the course or update your plan? This can be a hard decision for a business owner.
Benefits of Sticking With Your Business Plan
A business plan is a roadmap for helping your business to achieve the vision you have for it. It’s a vital part of planning for success, and it takes a lot of thought and work to make.
So, you don’t want to be too quick to abandon your plan. This doesn’t mean that change is a bad idea—just that there’s a lot to consider before making a change. Managers often don’t allow enough time for a plan to succeed.
Don’t Stick With a Failing Plan
It’s certainly essential to give a business plan time to work. That said, sometimes business plans fail, and if they do, you need to be prepared to move forward to try and achieve the level of business growth you have in mind. However, if your plan is working for your customers, then don’t change it just because you’re bored. You should only update your plan if it is outdated or ineffective. Always consider your bottom line.
Start by evaluating your current plan. Is it entirely wrong, or only parts of it? Maybe the market for your product or service has changed, or competition has increased, and you need to adapt to win over potential customers or attract potential investors.
Try using a SWOT Analysis & Value Proposition to identify your current position in the market. See what opportunities for improvement or growth are possible. Using a step-by-step guide can help the management team identify competitive advantages. Check out this free guide that may be useful for many new businesses or established owners.
Some thoughts around your executive summary can sometimes help to reevaluate your business idea and really look at your target market. Review your financial statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and any other section of your business where you could possibly make better financial projections.
If you do decide that your old plan isn’t working, then be creative and try something new, something you haven’t tried before. This is especially vital when it comes to a marketing plan. Make sure you create an original plan that suits your business’s specific needs rather than copying another business’s plan and don’t worry about whether or not it is a traditional business plan. Consider the following tips when creating your plan.
- Do Your Market Research: Keep up with any recent changes in your market, along with any projections for the future.
- Observe Your Competitors: Make sure you’re aware of what your competitors are doing, what they are selling, what their prices are, and what their marketing is. This market analysis may be surprising and may make you decide on a different direction in writing a business plan that works for your goals.
- Be Specific: Your plan should include the specific elements required to carry it out, including any financing necessary, such as a business loan. Don’t be vague!
Try Something New
A good business plan should incorporate the details of your business’s organizational structure, service or product line, and marketing plan, not just a company description. Often, if you are updating your business plan, these first two items are difficult to change. Many times, they do not even need to in order to improve your business plan.
However, marketing often needs to be updated in order to remain relevant and achieve the business growth you want. Small businesses often push this to the side and focus their attention and budget on other parts of the business plan, but this is a mistake. Marketing is crucial to growing your leads, and if you are not incorporating it into your business plan, you are missing out.
Updating your marketing plan means taking successful marketing ideas from your old plan and building on them. Consider investing in new areas of marketing. This may mean participating on a new social media site or joining more tradeshows and events.
Do not just copy the marketing plans of others; your marketing strategy must be customized to your unique business to be fully effective. But, don’t let the difficulty of updating your plan dissuade you. By simply maintaining the status quo, you are missing out on new customers.
However, if customizing and building a unique marketing plan for your business seems out of reach, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At MJI Marketing, we can work with you to create a unique marketing plan designed to grow your business at any stage.
Some Reasons Why Your Business Plan May Be Failing
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. In fact, it states that only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. I’m sure these stats have changed since COVID-19 but it still is alarming that many businesses are failing and never changing things up, even when they are failing.
Here are some top reasons why some businesses are failing.
- Not analyzing the market – Just because you think the world needs this new product or service in a certain area doesn’t necessarily mean others feel the same. Personally, I have asked many new clients this question, and they have said, “oh, yes,” but when I find out how they did their market research, I soon realize it was not accurately completed. It was vetted or swayed by the owner. Market research should be completed by a professional.
- Horrible Business Plan – Even if a business plan is put together many fail to stick with it or check out their income statement for things to be clearly understood. Look for strengths and weaknesses in a business plan. This takes financial planning for long-term results. Many new businesses or established businesses will make quick changes from observations. This could hurt the business when it could just be a fluke or something that is out of their control.
- Not Enough Financing – Many new businesses do not have the capital to achieve the growth needed and they fizzle out when the money runs out. When you create the business plan include a marketing budget. Knowing that it takes time to develop a business and introduce a service or product to the market should be understood. Patience is needed to create the desire in consumers and that takes money.
- Here is another important aspect, location! – Whether it be online or the physical location, it matters. I have see companies try to grow in a bad part of town or in an area that at one time generated a lot of foot traffic and then later the big box stores moved out.
- Having a strong online presence is just as important as your foot traffic. Having a strong online website helps others to quickly share and invite others to check you out.
- Making sure you reach the right people is just as important as growing your audience. If your audience is already there and established, make sure they know enough about your product or service. Be the leader in your field.
- Too rigid – Once you have completed your online presence, planned and gained a good customer base, don’t start getting too comfortable thinking everything is good. Continue to monitor the market and see what shifts may need to be made to maintain business growth.
- Include SEO in your plan and remain on the top in the search results. Just look to some previously successful companies to realize things can change very quickly. Look at Blockbuster for example.
Your Personal Business Plan and Mission Statement
Your business plan is an important tool to help your business grow, but it should never get in the way of your growth, mission statement or adaptability. If it is ineffective or just needs to be updated, don’t be afraid to change it or even start from scratch. The only thing that should be set in stone is your commitment to success!
Just because the rate of failure is high doesn’t mean you have to fail. You can avoid the pitfalls by researching, planning, remaining flexible, and continuing to look for ways to achieve success. Interested in some help? Reach out to me today by using our MJI Marketing contact page.