How to Update or Write a Business Plan

Small Business Planning Evaluates Business Goals and Performances

The business plan is the first step in developing an entrepreneur’s business idea and a starting place to revisit business goals based on changing market conditions.

Many entrepreneurs falsely believe that a business plan is a start-up activity only. While the business plan is designed to set out and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of business ideas by evaluating market demand and competition, it is also a tool for executives to address an enterprise’s financial, technical and management goals, and conduct business risks analysis as a going concern of the firm.

This past decade has seen two busts and a boom, so if you have not adapted your business model for these fluxes then essentially, you’re doing something wrong.

Business Plan Consulting: From Business Idea, Business Goal, to Business Innovation

Business goals give flight to business ideas. A business idea would be to start a pet clothing line, while a business goal would be to “report annual sales of $2 million within three years for dog raincoat clothing line.” Tangible actions for achieving a business goal based on changed conditions may include: (1) decrease production costs by 20%, (2) increase online sells for pet fashions by 25% by revamping and increasing marketing for business website, and (3) conduct market research to uncover potential export markets for dog clothing line.

Business goals should be distinguished from the daily “to do” list. The to-do list is the individual undertaking of daily activities to keep the business running. While a to-do list system for a business owner is important, many of the items on such a list may be delegable. Business strategies, however, are blueprints defining the business owner’s vision and the enterprise’s long-term and short-term goals to achieve the vision.

The Sample Business Plan: Outlines and Templates

Getting started with writing the business plan is usually the biggest obstacle to surmount for entrepreneurs. There are a growing number of business plan outlines, business plan templates, and business plan software available in the market to make business plan writing easier.

Counselors to America’s Small Business (SCORE) has made an assortment of business plan templates available online. This includes templates for start-up business plans, business plans for established businesses, financial forecasts, balance sheets, cash flow sheets, sales forecasts, competitive analysis, profit and loss statements, and more. Also, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides free online business plan writing courses on how to prepare a business plan (available in English and Spanish) and strategy planning and execution.

Additionally, there are business plan software available online for free, such as PlanWare, or commercially, such as Business Plan Pro. These business plan software programs can be used for both creating a start-up business plan or updating an old business plan.