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Monday, February 4, 2013

How Often Should You Edit Your Small Business Plan?

A business plan is a living document, thus it should be visited weekly, not only to make edits but also to ensure you are taking the daily steps needed to reach the goals stated in your business plan.

I advise spending 30-40 minutes a week ON your business, not just IN your business. This includes spending 5-10 minutes a day reviewing your business plan, determining what steps you need to take to reach each goal, and planning out your week.

Goals must not only be written out, but also reviewed on a regular basis.

The need for a dynamic business plan is mandatory in today's rapidly-changing, unpredictable and competitive business environment. Staying current with the business plan is necessary as the business environment evolves regularly.

The frequency of business plan updates is dependent on the maturity of the business. The initial business plan should be reviewed and updated whenever there is a change in business idea, marketing strategy, solutions etc.

As the business matures and becomes stable, there are certain updates which can be captured in phases. Financials, market and industry statistics, and factual information can be modified once a quarter. Specific chapters and sections that need updates (e.g. product info, customer base etc.) can be modified once every six months. It is advisable to conduct a major review of the whole plan at least once a year.

An up-to-date and comprehensive business plan provides a great roadmap for running a successful business.

Your business plan is your battle plan for your business. Like all battle plans they change every time you meet with the enemy. Dwight D Eisenhower said "Plans are nothing, planning is everything".

Military planning is focussed on high level objectives. Business planning is the same. Your business plan sets out the long medium and short term financial and business objectives for the journey, not the detailed route plan, as it is impossible to take into account the vast number of variables and changing circumstances that you will encounter along the way.

Unless your ultimate objective, your vision and your value proposition change there is no need to update the master plan. The master plan is supported by marketing, sales, financial and product development plans which will need regular updating and validation against the master plan.

My business mantra is "How does what I'm doing or planning help me achieve the final number in my master plan". I find this far more valuable than updating plans which may be out of date in two hours time.

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