In the last week or so, as we entered the new year, there’s been a big spike in sales of my Business Planning Made Really Simple ebook, just as there was at this time last year. I guess that’s because people thinking about the year ahead feel that it’s the right time to write or revise their business plan, and they’re looking for a little inspiration and support.
That’s fine, and I’m grateful for the sales. But I hope that their enthusiasm for business planning doesn’t wane as the year gets older. Because a business plan should be thought of as your friend, and one you should stay in touch with.
So if you’re writing your business plan now, try doing these things to build good habits in your business planning.
1. Schedule Your Reviews
Let’s be honest, no matter how hard you try, your plan will not anticipate every obstacle and opportunity you’ll encounter. It will need to be adjusted. And you’ll discover that you didn’t plan some things thoroughly enough, or got some ideas plain wrong. But you’ll only make those adjustments if you review your progress against your plan. So schedule, right now, when you’re going to do those reviews. Give yourself time to think. How often? Well, that depends on the nature of your business. Quarterly reviews seem to fit many businesses.
2. Gather Your Group
If you’ve followed my advice, you’ll have tested the ideas in your business plan by discussing them with people you trust. Now is the time to secure their involvement in your ongoing business planning. Ask them to be prepared to spend some time helping with your reviews of progress against the plan. With that expectation set now, they’ll come into those reviews better prepared and be able to give you the support you’ll need.
3. Stay Critical
I’ve seen people so overwhelmed by the effort of writing their business plan that they feel they have to defend its contents, come what may. But if circumstances have changed, or the ideas in the plan are just plain wrong, you need to be able to say so, and change the plan. You’ll feel better about doing that if you allow yourself, from the outset, to be a critic of your own plan, looking for the holes in it.
4. Plan the Replan
In a while, your plan will be out of date, no matter how good it is today. For your business to continue to be successful, you’ll need to spend time rethinking and enhancing your plan. Plan now for when you’ll do that. If you don’t, you’ll not squeeze enough time out of your schedule to plan properly when everything around you is going frantically well. And that’s just as dangerous as not planning when things are going badly.
What good habits have you developed in your business planning? Let me know in the comments.