I love New Year’s Day. On this day almost anything seems possible. Closing the books on 2011, it is time to plan for the year ahead.  And just like every year for the last ten years, I am putting the finishing touches on my business plan. While not as formal as the plans I wrote in the early years of the business, I still spent time reviewing goals and tactics. I focused on mapping out some of the big changes we need to make in the months to come if we want to hit our year-end sales goals.

As I reviewed my plan I spent some time researching what other business consultants were suggesting.  Here are a few of the more interesting things I found:

  • Crowdspring shared a new twist on the 3R’s.  The author shared his thoughts on research, refinement and writing (well, it is an R if you spell it phonetically).  He suggests that your plan is a living document you should return to over and over again throughout the year. The form itself is not so important, but the continuous process of refining your plan will help create a stronger, more sustainable business.
  • Tim Berry suggests five questions you should ask in your business plan.  I liked his approach, again less formal, but certainly thought provoking:
    • Is my price right?
    • Can I afford to hire?
    • Am I implementing my strategy?
    • Can I afford to relocate?
    • Am I stunting my growth?
  • The Myth of the Business Plan – Kate Lister suggests that companies need to business plan (verb) but they don’t necessarily need a business plan ( noun).  Her emphasis, like many of the other authors I have been reading is focused on the act of planning, without worrying about the final format of the document.

In the early days of my business I used this small business plan outline.  It served me well, laying a foundation I could build on each year. But after 10 years, I am opting for a much more informal process. Just a handful of strategies and key metrics everyone on my team can see every day. There are few secrets at Roundpeg.  Maybe that is my biggest suggestion for the year to come. No matter what form your business plan takes, be sure to share your goals with the people who can help you achieve them and hold you accountable to stay on track.