You write your business plan, you print it out, and guess what?! It’s obsolete.
Your company’s plan was obsolete the minute it came off the printer. While this sounds dire and discouraging, it is not.
Why Maintain Your Business Plan?
Everyone maintains their car with oil changes and tire rotations, everyone updates their Facebook pages and websites, but what about your business plan? Most people, after writing their plan, file it away and forget about it. That’s a mistake. Like all other aspects of your business, it is crucial you maintain and update your plan regularly for at least two reasons.
- If you need a loan or want venture capital, the first thing any lender or investor wants to see is your business plan. Not the plan you used five years ago when you started your business, they want your current business plan.
- Maintaining your plan is a structured method of evaluating your business and seeing where you have been and where you are going. The process of maintaining your business plan is invaluable.
For your business plan to effectively work for you, you need to maintain it - work it. Therefore, rather than be discouraged, I say be encouraged and continually update and maintain your plan. When the time comes and you need it, it's too late.
If you are in a rut or are looking for ways to stimulate your company or business model, I recommend reading REWORK. REWORK is a quick and easy read that dispels conventional business myths and gives you the inside on what you instinticively know wastes company time - your time. I read it and it changed the way I look at business practices and how I spend my “working” time. Again, this is a great read that will motivate you no matter what business you're in.
Maintaining is Not Rewriting.
While it may seem like a daunting task to continually maintain and update your business plan – relax – that does not have to be the case. Rather, think about needing your plan but you don’t know where it is, and you have not looked at it, much less thought about it, in years.
That situation is daunting and you must avoid it at all costs because it is a waste of your time, money, and resources.
Effectively maintain your business plan and avoid headaches by periodically reviewing your plan every four months. That means three times a year you are at least looking at your plan and assessing progress, noting changes, and evaluating marketing and product strategies. There is no need to formally rewrite your plan, but it is essential that you make notes, outline ideas, brainstorm possible changes, and keep these notes with your business plan. The key is you are actively engaging your business plan and developing it. Then, when it comes time to ask for money or for funding for a new project, and you need your plan, you are ready to meaningfully rewrite your business plan with real insight, solid data, and detailed results. The end product will be a professional, thought-out document reflecting a growing and dynamic company, instead of a document comprised of worn out platitudes and generic puffery.
- Find your business plan.
- Print it out.
Even if you don’t read it at this point, you have taken two important steps towards maintaining your business plan.