Your business isn’t static: It’s a dynamic and growing entity that aims to succeed in an ever-evolving world. For this reason, your small business plan shouldn’t be a static document — it should evolve and grow with your business. Your small business plan should provide strategic direction that helps you make wise decisions about how and when to pivot, grow, seek funding or even eliminate products and services.
If you’re considering permanent changes to your business in response to the pandemic or other challenges or opportunities, be sure to revise your small business plan first. When you go through the three steps outlined here, you’ll develop a clearer picture of where you are, what needs to change in your plan and how to effectively translate that to your business, including planning for new revenue and expenses.
By doing so, you’ll have an actionable plan that uses your experience and data to help your business adapt, grow and succeed.
Why do I need to revise my small business plan?
Your small business plan serves as a guide to help you make better decisions to guide growth, reductions and funding priorities. Given this, there are several reasons why you may need to revise your plan:
- There are significant differences between your startup business plan and the direction that you want to take your business now that you’re up and running — and your plan should reflect those updates.
- You realize that your business must evolve to survive, and you need more than temporary changes to build resilience for long-term success.
- You’ve identified new opportunities — or found areas of your business that you should reduce or eliminate — that significantly change the nature of your business.
Keep in mind that just as you’re contemplating revisions now, you should revisit your plan regularly (at least annually and more often if you’re faced with major decisions), so it remains a useful tool to track your business’s history and future plans.
What steps should I take to revise my small business plan?
This three-step exercise is most effective if you actually highlight and make notes on your existing business plan and financials (printed or online, whichever format you prefer). At some point — approaching a lender for a loan, for example — you’ll need your updated plan, so updating it now will save you a step down the road.
Step 1: Review your current small business plan for lasting challenges
Thoroughly review your mission, vision and overall business plan:
- Highlight challenges that no longer support where you want to take the business or that your target market can no longer support.
- Look at the factors that make up each challenge. Develop a workable solution for individual issues or decide if you need to make an overall business pivot. For example, a challenge may be pandemic-related or it could be based on things you’ve learned from serving your target market and reflect overall changing preferences or interests.
- Determine whether these challenges are temporary or lasting, so you have a better sense of just how significantly your business plan may need to change.
Step 2: Identify opportunities that can be leveraged for future growth and success
Now, go through your small business plan again and highlight opportunities that you can build on. This can be things you’ve learned, services or products you offer or anything else that has consistently done well and that can help you expand your business.
Make notes about how you’ve come to each determination, such as references to sales data that shows ever-increasing sales of certain product lines. As you move forward, you want to ensure that how you spend your funds supports your success. When you can show this through past results, it will make your plan more effective for profitability and growth.
As with the challenges you highlighted in the first step, consider whether these positive changes are shorter-term (such as pandemic-related changes in consumer behaviors that have made certain products or services more desirable) or long-term.
Then, list ways that you can leverage these opportunities, such as:
- Expanding how you reach customers, from online sales, expanded brick-and-mortar locations or pop-up venues to enhanced marketing and outreach opportunities.
- Expanding product lines or services.
- Buying a competitor in your market or industry.
Step 3: Create a budget that shows best, likely and worst-case scenarios if you revise your small business plan and follow that path
Using your business’s existing financials as a guide, create a budget that reflects your business’s projected financial position if you revised your plan and pivoted your business accordingly:
- Be sure to account for new and enhanced revenue streams and show how they add to the bottom line.
- Include new expenses, from rebranding and remarketing your business to adding staff or inventory, expanding locations or purchasing another business.
Move forward with confidence: Pursuit can help
When you revise your small business plan, you’ll gain peace of mind as you optimize opportunities for growth while reducing or eliminating those areas that hold your business back. Another advantage? If you need a loan to bring your revised plan to fruition, you’ll be a step ahead.