As a rule of thumb, business plans should be compiled in the quarter before they’re needed.
In my last blog, I explained why you DO need a business plan (you can refer back to it here). Now you’re convinced, the next question is when to start? In fact, business planning should be an ongoing affair to sustain a healthy growth.
Implemented at the start of the business year, the plan should be continually monitored, adjusted and finally reviewed at year end (by which time, the following year’s plan should be ready to go). Large businesses have regular management meetings, small businesses should be doing the same. It’s the only way to stay on track.
To effectively plan for the coming year, you should be working on your plan 3 months ahead of when it’s needed. So for those businesses that run on a calendar year of January to December, that’s now.
For businesses running on April to March, January is the time to get plans together.
While compiling a business plan doesn’t need to be daunting, it’s wise to gather some support. Sole traders can enlist some trusted friends or associates to help brain storm the coming year. Or of course, if you have a mentor, get them involved!
My previous blog details the stages you need to execute in order to finalise your plan.
In addition to your overall annual budget/plan it’s prudent to include a marketing calendar, detailing all the events that impact on the business throughout the year. This will aid planning for those crucial times when peak sales will be reached.
Wholesalers supplying retailers will need to have their Christmas offerings sewn up by June at the latest, ready for sales to commence in September. The hospitality industry will similarly need their Christmas plans in place by September and so planning for this should start at least three months ahead of this.
Find out more about how the marketing calendar works in my recent blog here.
Planning for the quiet times
Don’t forget to plan for the slower months too. If the new year presents a period of quiet then have your marketing activity in place ahead of this to drive revenue and avoid a drastic dip. My blog, Diversification: 3 ideas to increase sales can help with this.
If you’d like help to implement any of my advice, why not contact me to arrange a Free Business Review? This is a genuinely free 2 hour session whereby I’ll come into the business and spend two hours giving you advice to make positive changes. Click here to arrange yours now.