Much is made about the need for a concise business plan for the start-up entrepreneur. What was so important to your business at its start-up stages, however, is often ignored or forgotten once your business is established. Large corporations update their business plans on a regular basis because it helps them to stay on track and to communicate their goals to all their employees. Small businesses, unfortunately, rarely keep their business plans up-to-date. In this article, I’m going to discuss why you need to keep your business plan updated. (I’m not planning on doing a how-to article because there are so many resources on this very subject. See this week’s Top 5 List for some business plan tips.)
I want to spend some time talking about what I consider to be two of the most important parts of your business plan–the Mission Statement and the Statement of Goals–and how keeping these updated can help you keep your business running smoothly. Essentially, these 2 statements should guide everything that you do in your business–from how you attract clients to what products or services you are actually selling.
An informal case study—A woman I know runs a sporting goods shop that she inherited from her family. The shop itself is a well-established business in the area with a long history of providing quality products and services. Since inheriting the shop, Renee (not her real name) has had to learn the shop’s operations on her own, and is just now coming to the point where she has passed the learning stages and is well into her planning stages. Knowing where to go was Renee’s biggest problem. She had a lot of ideas floating around in the back of her head, but never took the time to get them down on paper and really think about them as each new–and wonderful–idea came to her. Instead, she spent a lot of time just doing her day-to-day work, and never got the chance to do more than think about what she’d like to do with her business. So she spent a lot of time in a no-growth stage. Business was good, but it could have (and should have) been better.
If you’re like Renee, you’ve probably gotten quite a few great ideas you’d like to implement in your business. (My great ideas always occur to me as I’m driving or doing something equally non-conducive to writing.) But getting your ideas down on paper can really benefit your business because this lets you really think about what your business needs in order to grow.