Business plans are often mistakenly associated only with start-up businesses.
But without an evolving, written business plan, company management can easily find itself overwhelmed and reacting to events, instead of managing proactively.
So if you haven’t updated your business plan since your start-up days, it might be time to consider writing a business plan for growth.
Periodic planning can help sustain growth and profits, and is a practice that’s vital to keeping up with the ever changing business landscape.
Five Key Elements
Here are five key elements to consider when drafting your business plan for growth.
1. Define your goals and priorities. Create a list of long-term goals. Be sure to choose goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed. These goals will guide you as you work through your business plan for growth, and will help focus your efforts on doing what it will take to achieve these goals.
2. Set up a timeline. A timeline with milestones should be established to mark your progress against reaching your goals. Include details in the timeline such as customers you hope to acquire, and additional employees you might need to hire. Elaborate on how these activities will contribute to achieving your goals for growth.
3. Plan for cash. Growth strategies such as geographic or product expansion can initially generate negative cash flow. Increasing revenues doesn't necessarily mean increased profits, because at the outset, the cost to achieve growth can be high. Your financial plan, especially your cash flow projections, will be vital in determining how you’ll sustain your company’s growth—without putting you under.
4. Profile competitors. Have new competitors emerged since you established your company? How have your existing competitors changed in response to your entrance into the market? Be aware of how your competition can affect your goals. Strategies to address competitive forces can include adjustments in:
- Niche markets
5. Track your progress and evaluate the results. To track your progress, establish company and industry benchmarks against which you can measure your performance. Conduct a gap analysis which compares “Where are we today?” with “Where do we want to be?”