is it time for a new business plan

Is It Time For A New Business Plan?

When I first started my business, I spent some time putting together a business plan. I laid out targets for growth and timescales to hit those targets. Within a couple of months that plan was unrecognisable with reality so it was time to revaluate and replan.

Sometimes it’s obvious when you need to re-think your business plan, brand new businesses for example often change so quickly that you know you need to update your goals in order to have a better handle on how your business is performing.

So what clues should you be looking out for and what can you do about it?

Are Your Sales Dropping?

If you find that sales of previously popular products and services are falling, it could be a sign that there is a disconnection between what you are providing and what your audience wants.

There could be several reasons this has happened.

Firstly, you might be marketing to the wrong people. Back when you first came up with your business plan you might have had a clear idea of who your ideal audience was and how you were going to reach them. Sometimes after an initial rush of success you can lose track of what you need to do and that’s where the disconnection happens. The message you’re putting out might not be reaching your target audience any more. Study your analytics and see what is happening now that wasn’t happening before – it could be the first step to you getting back on track.

Another reason could be because you’re product isn’t quite what your ideal audience needs it to be. On the surface, it might seem like you have the perfect solution to a problem, but once customers start using that solution it might not be exactly right. To identify if this is the problem, make sure you get feedback from everyone who buys from you. Find out what they like or didn’t like, if they would recommend you and if not, why not? You can then use all this information to improve your product to make sure it does meet all the requirements that your customers need.

Are Sales Staying Flat?

Just because you’re not losing numbers you can’t feel complacent. A business that stays flat is not in good shape either, so you need to come up with a new business plan to help you start to grow again.

Things to consider might be to add a new product line to entice more people in. You may also want to think about raising your prices to increase margins, widen your focus to an additional niche, or conversely do you want to narrow your services and brand yourself as an expert?

If you’re sales are staying flat, you know that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with what you offer, but you might need to up your marketing activity in order to get more people to notice you. Work out how many leads it takes you to make a sale, and from there you’ll know if it’s worth you buying leads, hiring another sales person or coming up with something to make your offer a little sweeter in order to convert people at a better rate.

Are You Doing Far Better Than You’d Planned?

This is the dream for many business owners, so congratulations! However growing a business very quickly can bring with it its own share of problems. You may need to reassess your business model to make sure that you can cope with the additional fulfilment, customer service and administration that extra customers bring with them. Likewise, you need to ensure that you don’t get so bogged down with closing orders that you forget to carry on building up your future pipeline.

Is your business model easy to replicate? If so, could you consider setting up a franchise model that you can sell on to other entrepreneurs.
If that is a step too far, then what about hiring staff? Do you go for administrative staff, sales people or a business partner? Can your existing premises support extra staff and extra customers, or will you need to relocate? Do you need to invest in further marketing, or perhaps if you feel overwhelmed you could sell leads on to a similar business.

What ever stage you are at in business you can never get too complacent and rest on your laurels. There is always something else to consider, always something to plan for and always another way to reach out to more customers!

So what are you waiting for? Dig out your business plan now and see if it’s still leading you on the right course.