Every entrepreneur is familiar with business plans. Business plans help to set the milestones from the moment of launch to turning a profit, growth, and more. Traditional financing requires entrepreneurs to submit business plans as part of the approval process. The more detailed a business plan is, the easier it is to follow. However, the best laid plans can meet with circumstances that require businesses to make big changes to meet their goals. How can businesses overcome these challenges and still adhere to their business plans?
Business Plans Are Not Set in Stone
There is no such thing as a “final draft” for a business plan. The version that investors and lenders see is the most up-to-date version of your business plan, with the unspoken caveat that all information is subject to change. For example, new and small businesses that had business plans in 2019 were using those documents as guidelines to reach major milestones and maintain positive cash flow. Things were looking relatively stable heading into the next year, and suddenly, 2020 happened. There’s a pandemic, social unrest, and lots of uncertainty. Entrepreneurs quickly realized that their business plans did not have contingencies for any of the major changes that came with 2020, and had to make drastic decisions. Fortunately, business plans are not set in stone.
Modifying Your Business Plan
Your business plan should be revisited regularly. Some businesses revise their plans quarterly, while others do it every year or so. Financial forecasts and projections change. Businesses that were once seen as direct competitors can fall by the wayside, get bought out, or completely change their market focus. Internal projects can change the course of your business. External market and societal shifts can cause your business to rethink its strategy. As with the example of the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses had to suddenly rethink their business plans in order to accommodate online sales over in-person commerce. While your business plan is a guide, you are ultimately in charge, so you can revise numbers or entire sections when you need to change course to stay successful.
Rereading and adjusting your business plan will help you to remain agile so you can anticipate changes or make contingencies in case of sudden and unforeseen market shifts.