If your business plan has been collecting dust since you launched, it's likely time to refresh. Updating your business plan on a regular basis is critical for any business to stay relevant and be successful in the future.
Elements of a business plan change in as little as a year—for example, sales targets, competitors and cash flow. A plan should be a continually evolving roadmap to where your want your business to be in the coming months and years.
Here are some common business-planning pitfalls.
Doing It Alone
It's hard to be impartial when it comes to your own business. So involve employees, experts and other small business owners who may have an interest in the process. They can help you generate new ideas for the future.
Too Much Information
Keep it short and simple. Present your business ideas clearly and stick to the facts: incorporate market studies, benchmark reports and sales projections. Let these facts persuade your investors or lenders that your business will make a profit.
The Wrong Details for the Wrong Audience
You don't want too much information, but you need to include the numbers and facts that back up your ideas.
If you want lenders or investors to take your business plan seriously, make sure the format is appropriate for your audience and look into different templates and sample business plans. Canada Business Ontario has free templates and sample business plans for a variety of industries and a business planning video to help get you started. They also offer secondary market research and demographic information to get you started. Call the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888 or visit www.canadabusiness.ca.
Filing It Away
A business plan can give you an objective picture of the viability of new projects. But it can only do this if you keep it up to date and refer to it regularly. Create a semi-annual or annual schedule to keep it fresh and current.
Continuous business planning helps identify opportunities, competition and changing industry trends. Your business plan will not only sell your idea to potential investors or lenders, it will also keep your business goals on track.
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