As the new calendar year approaches, it is wise to take the time to review your business plan and make the changes necessary for a successful season ahead. Just as important is to decide now how you will evaluate your goals and objectives to gauge results. This is how to begin and begin again, when the need arises.
Your business plan, and it can be as simple as outlining your goals for the year, or as sophisticated as a full-scale business outline, should be a “fluid living document” that changes as your operation does. If you experience variances in any phase of your business throughout the year, the plan may need to be adjusted to reflect the new systems. If you decide to add retail outlets, attend another farmers’ market, open a new business segment, sell to a new supplier or alter harvesting, packaging or transportation, your goals and objectives need to change as well. Remember that your business plan should be the guiding path for how your operation will function daily, as well as in the long-term.
If you make changes to your business plan, also plan to evaluate these adaptations to determine how well it is working. Without having a way to examine the outcome, it is more difficult to understand if the change should be considered a minor deviation from your entire plan, or a more permanent change that requires serious financial and operational alterations.
Evaluating changes begins with two main questions: How did this affect my operation as it stands today? In the long term, how will my business be altered?
Your current business plan with its goals and objectives projects how successful your operation can be given your current operating procedures and sales expectations. If you made changes during the year, how did they relate back to your budget, labor issues, transportation and overall financial picture? Were you forced to borrow more capital, hire more employees, purchase new equipment or change your marketing efforts? If so, how did they balance out compared to your plans for the season?Did you make your projected financial goal, or did sales lag in selected areas?
Looking to another season ahead, and even toward a long-term view, what overall changes to your business would you need to consider in the future? Again, how would your expectations for success balance off against your planned objectives?
While these are indeed questions you will work through with your business counselors, partners and lenders, the planning needs to begin with you and how you sought to structure your business from the beginning: What was the vision and how would you achieve success?
Evaluating how to begin and begin again does not have to a complicated procedure as often outlined in business manuals. It does, however, require the time to review your plans and see where and how changes have occurred and what they have done to alter your business operation. As these plans unfold, you will need to make the appropriate changes with consultation to be sure, but first determine the very elemental issues affecting your business. Ask yourself, how well did my plans work out and did I make the profit I anticipated?
Your business is unique and stems from the first vision you had of how to bring it to operational status. By planning how to evaluate your success at various points throughout the year, or as changes occur, you become ready to move forward confidently and protect your investment. In today’s competitive environment, evaluating your operation and being willing to adjust your business plan to adapt to changes along the way, are important components for which to prepare.
The above information is presented for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.