How to Update Your Business Plan

Meredith Galante, Writer

Have you settled into 2019? By now you’ve set some goals for the year, but have you updated your business plan? Now is the perfect time to reflect on how your business did last year, evaluate whether you met your goals, and take a look ahead.

At least once a year, or when you’re making major changes to your business, it’s a good idea to update your business plan. During this process, you want to reflect on your goals for the year ahead. Updating your business plan helps you strategize, stay relevant in the market, and plan for what needs to be done to achieve your desired results.

If you’re not shifting your overall strategy or making any drastic changes to the business, you don’t need to rewrite your business plan from scratch, but instead update, adapt, and expand it. However, if your business is moving in a different direction, you might need a bigger refresher on how to start your business plan.

Here are the top five things you should do when updating your plan:

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Get feedback

Before getting started, talk to your customers and potential customers. This helps you review and evaluate your business proposition. Look at what your customers are buying most and what problems you’re helping them solve. What your customers want and your value proposition are important parts to emphasize in your plan.

Review performance

Next, look back at last year’s sales results versus your forecast. Now, with that knowledge, create a realistic sales forecast for the upcoming year. Your forecast needs to be backed up with how you’ll achieve those results. Write about how you’ll generate new leads or customers, what your marketing strategy will be, and any events or demos you have planned that will help increase business.

Look at the budget

Then focus on cash flow and whether you need to raise any money. Updating any fixed cost changes, salaries, and any money that will be used to expand is crucial. Creating a financial forecast is key to attracting more funders with your business plan.

Think about staffing

After you have a view of your finances, plan out your staffing for the coming year. Talk with your team to see if there are any key gaps that perhaps a new role could help fill. Or maybe you need more executive-level staff to help manage the team. Regardless, there may be more HR and training costs associated with growth that it’s important to budget for.

Do a competitive review

If any disruptive competition emerged on the market this year, it’s important to include how they are changing the industry you’re in, and what your company is doing to react. Also, do some research on any new competitors that might be entering the market in 2019, and how they plan to grow their business. You also want to add in any new market segmentations that were created this year.

It’s OK if your plan from last year ended up being or feeling “wrong” in hindsight. It’s still important to learn from the goals you set versus what you achieved, and then plan ahead. Setting goals and taking a step back to look at your business’s progress will help you and your team stay on track in 2019.

Meredith is a freelancer writer based in New York City. She’s been writing for Square since 2017 where she’s covered everything from the best software for restaurants to use to maximize profit, minimum wage laws across the country, and tips for entrepreneurs to maximize their impact.