According to the late author Earl Nightingale, "success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”

Your business planning process is critical in outlining the necessary financial, operational, and team goals for your company's success. There are a few important components to consider as you plan for your business' future.

Tips to Start Planning Your Business

The best businesses start with a solid foundation and business plan. Writing this plan can seem like a challenging task if you have never completed the process. But by following a few simple steps, it doesn't have to be so daunting.

  • Cater the business plan toward your target market – ask yourself who would benefit the most from your product or service, and then tailor the business plan toward them
  • Evaluate your competitors – assess who your local competition is, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they could impact your business
  • Research your surrounding market – understand how your business fits in with the local market, economic development, and how your strengths and weaknesses fit within this market
  • Think critically about your financial outlook – your cash flow, expenses, and sales forecasts should be documented closely and accurately. Paint a clear picture of where you expect your business to be in the next 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and   5 years.

Re-Evaluating Your Strategy

Your environment is constantly changing, so it is essential to analyze how these dynamic changes can affect your business. You should revisit your goals periodically to determine if they still adhere to the SMART framework (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound).

When you re-evaluate your strategy, are your goals still in line with your vision for the business? Ensure these objectives are steering you and your team in the right direction.

If your goals are measurable, how is your current progress stacking up against your projections? When your results are falling short, it may be time to re-evaluate your approach with customer service, capital investments, or other operational activities.

It would also be best for you to monitor that your strategy and goals are still attainable and realistic. Does the current deadline for these goals make sense? You can always re-evaluate and adjust the timeline to better fit your capabilities.

How Planning Can Bring Success to Your Business

So, why is it worth it to plan for your business? It can provide success in a few ways:

  • Secure funding – many new businesses require operating and startup capital to hit the ground running, and a proof of concept will increase your chances of obtaining this funding from the bank.
  • Financial and operational success – when you outline your business plan, it will ensure you remain focused on the financial and operational goals of the business, like market planning, budgeting, and sales growth.

How Far into the Future You Should Plan For

When you sit down and plan out your business' future, find an ideal balance between short- and long-term goals. You should have short-term, tactical objectives for the next month, three months, and six months.

It is equally important to evaluate the status of your business each year and set annual goals for success. This process allows you to have clear milestones to work toward each year. Depending on the size of your business, you can outline your 3 and 5 year plans at these annual meetings.

Setting Your Goals

As you outline your business goals, keep these essential tips in mind:

  • Assign a measurable quantity to your goals
  • Design your goals as specific as possible
  • Make your goals visible and public to everyone within the business
  • Place a deadline on the goal
  • Reward yourself and your team for accomplishing all goals (large and small)

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About the Author, James Webster

James Webster, founder and Executive Chairman of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.