At Writing It Right For You, we work primarily with small businesses or the marketing departments of larger businesses. We realize that the recommendations of this post may not be relevant to large enterprise operations.
It’s almost the end of the year. It’s the holiday season. You’re busier than usual. We get it, we really do. But before the clock strikes 12 on December 31, you should add one more important task to your end-of-the-year list: revising your business plan: what happened in the previous and what needs to change in the next year.
Your business plan was never meant to be a static, one-time document. Instead your business plan is a road map that you should use continuously to ensure that your business stays on track with your goals and objectives. Ideally, you should review your business plan at least quarterly—especially the marketing plan and financial forecasts. But at the end of the year, it is important to review and revise your entire business plan because things have definitely happened in the current year that will impact what you do in the upcoming year.
Set aside several hours before you close down for the year to do a comprehensive review of your business plan so that by the time the new year rolls around, you will be refocused, have new and/or revised priorities, and success plans and metrics in place.
- Begin with your “wins.” What went well this year? What goals did you meet? What new initiatives actually worked? What a physical and psychological list of all of the positives first, and then you’ll be better able to deal with the inevitable elements that didn’t go so well.
- Revisit your SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Be honest. It’s better to know that not know what challenges you may face in the new year and the tools and processes you already have or need to have in place.
- Revise your cash flow projections month-by-month. Look back at the current year, check with your accountant, gather your figures, and complete an in-depth analysis.
- What were your key marketing initiatives? Do you have an ROI estimate. Which can be changed or replaced?
- Review your pricing structure? Is it time to adjust or even raise your prices? What products or service offerings were the “best sellers” in the past year?
- Is it time to upgrade and update your hardware and software? Technology changes so quickly; during your business plan review, make sure to look at your office setup to make sure that it will meet your needs for the upcoming year.
- Lastly, look at your human resources. Do you have employees or contractors? Are all contracts and payments up to date? Are any changes or adjustments necessary?
By reviewing the current year and preparing for the upcoming year before the end of December, you can really celebrate the holidays knowing that you and your company will be ready for business on the first day of the new year.