A business plan is not a one-time document. Instead, it is a planning process that requires regular review and revision. Like steering a ship, it takes an almost constant application of small adjustments to sail a straight course in business. Is it time to take a look at your old business plan? If you’re not so sure, there are a few signs that can help tell you it’s time.
Maybe your new product didn’t go over with the flying colors that you anticipated. Or you thought your product would be ready to roll out on a certain date, but that day will go by with many others before you are ready. These are signs that you may need to adjust your goals expectations.
However, there are many positive changes that can also lead to plan changes. Maybe your new product is doing so well that it is outpacing your production capabilities. Or you have so many orders that your costs are even less than first estimated. A review of your business plan should include questions like “What do you revise up, and what down?” “What has to be done sooner, or cheaper?” “How does your planning respond to the changed assumptions?”
Have your initial goals changed? Were your goals the right goals? If you were too optimistic or your business was not directed at the proper target, it’s not too late to go back to your plan and revise it. Was the plan too ambitious, not ambitious enough? Or are changes needed due to over- or under-performance or a lack of key elements such as advertising or pricing? Maybe your goals or timeline were off. If you answered yes to any of these, it’s time to revise your business plan.
If it’s been more than a few months since you reviewed your plan, then you probably need to update your planning process. A business plan does you no good unless you keep it alive and use it to manage, change and steer your company. You have the plan, you watch results, and you revise it. Operating without a business plan is like running a train without any track. You are still constantly steering, but without any direction or goals. But strong, professional planning can keep you on track for success.