By Rieva Lesonsky
Does your business look and feel as it did when you first opened its doors? Has the business mission or purpose changed? For many small-business owners, their companies no longer resemble the concept they laid out in their initial business plan. The economy, technology, and trends are constantly evolving and if you want your business to survive, you have to adapt along with the marketplace and its fluctuating demands.
Now is the perfect time to pull that obsolete business plan out of your file drawer, dust it off, and take a fresh look. Here are some areas that most likely need updating:
- The Executive Summary. Does your executive summary still describe your business objectives and why your business stands out from your competitors? This is the first (and maybe only) section that potential investors actually read, so the summary needs to be succinct, descriptive, appealing, and (most important) accurate to what your business does today.
- Market Analysis. Has your target market changed since you started your business? If your business survived the recent recession, most likely you had to change markets or your target market had to change its buying patterns. Maybe you’ve expanded your business online and found a new audience overseas. Also, how are you addressing your competition? Describe what gives your business an edge over your competitors. Show the reader that you know your market and you understand where valuable prospects lie.
- Financial Projections. Most likely, your financial projections have gone through major changes since you wrote your business plan. Go over your finances with an expert such as your accountant or tax advisor. Have your working financial needs changed? Are you earning money in areas you hadn’t thought of when you initiated your business plan? Also, if you foresee a surge in profits as the result of new products or services, make sure those projections are reflected in your new business plan.
- Your Team. Like any growing business, your small business has likely had staffing changes since you started out. Maybe you’ve brought on new staff with specialized skills or hired contract workers to handle specific projects. Make sure your business plan explains how each of your support staff adds to the success potential of your business.
Just as your small business grows, adapts, and changes with the times, your business plan is constantly evolving and should be updated to reflect these changes. With an up-to-date business plan in place, you’ll have everything you need should you, for example, apply for financing or bring on a new partner.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.