As I come closer and closer to 2012, I need to start planning my future business steps, or what will need my company to do in 2012. I don’t like classical business plans with too many sections from the books. I don’t like business plans difficult to monitor and implement. This is because I have a bad experience with such a business plan that is very unproductive.
My ideal business plan is a plan is a business plan fully implemented, measured and analyzed. This business plan can bring me more knowledge and future improvements for me and my business.
However, the question is what we can do in this period of a year that can make our business plan more effective for the next year? We need to start preparations because time goes on and didn’t wait for us.
Let’s talk about some possible preparations that you can take from today.
1. Sales Projections
Until today, you have a solid amount of data about your sales numbers that you can compare with the planned. Furthermore, these data points can give you some possible trends that you can employ in the projections for the next year. You need to ask the following questions:
- Are the planned sales numbers more or less with the realized this year?
- Why they are more or less? What are the reasons for discrepancies?
- Is there something that can be seen as spikes? Why there are such spikes? What your company was implemented that resulted in such a spike? Are the spikes only for the holidays or they are also in some of the rest days?
- Is there some environmental factors that impact your sales this year? What are they? How you are dealing with them? Are your actions in dealing with them bring results or not?
- Is there some potential environmental factors that can impact your sales next year? What they can be? How you can deal with them? What you need to do to deal with them?
- What are you thinking about the demand for the next year? Can you increase and what you can do to increase the demand of your products and services for the next year?
- How much sales you can expect next year based on your business goals and previously answered questions? Do you need to do something more to meet the expected sales numbers next year?
2. Budget for 2012
Now when you know your sales numbers, and you know what can impact them and what you need to know you can easily start preparing your budget for the next year.
3. Customers Needs
You need to know your customers. That means you need to know what they want, need, desire, dreams, emotions… When we talk about business plan you need this knowledge to implement in your plan. Use the following questions to expand your knowledge about your customers:
- This year what are the questions that they ask you?
- Is there something additional that they need from your company? What is it? Can you implement it?
- Is there some customers who didn’t buy something from your company this year? Why? Can you ask them?
- Is there some customers who rapidly increase their buying from you this year? Why? Do you make something for this? Can you ask them?
You can prepare a simple questionnaire to ask them about their needs, problems, desires, biggest frustrations, dreams… This is the best way to collect information about customers needs.
4. The Biggest Problems from 2011
There are not small businesses without problems. If there are not problems probably there is not a business at all. Your business plan is something that you want to improve your company. Why not take a moment and think about the biggest problems that you experience this year and find possible ways to escape the same problems next year.
5. The Biggest Obstacles from 2011
Except the problems, there are also obstacles that push you back in your business success. What are the biggest obstacles? What you need to do to escape them next year?
6. Marketing Plan
You have your estimated numbers about your budget. You know what you need to do to meet the expected sales numbers next year. Now you need to make a simple marketing plan. Use 5 questions and one table to make your marketing plan:
- What is your target market for the next year? Is it the same as this year? What are the changes on the market?
- What are your marketing objectives for the next year?
- What will be your marketing strategies to meet marketing objectives?
- What will be your marketing tactics (weapons, channels)?
- What will be activities and responsibilities to implement your marketing plan?