The Three Things Your Business Plan Absolutely Must Have

Business columnist Rieva Lesonsky outlines three things you need to consider in order to craft a fresh and effective business plan.

At the end of the year, most people are in dual modes of looking back at how their business did over the past year and looking forward to what can be improved in the New Year. It’s probably time to blow the dust off your old business plan and see what’s missing. Most likely, there’s room for significant improvement. Here are three ideas to craft a fresh and effective business plan for the new year.

  • Make a plan for social media.

If you haven’t fully dived into the social media pool, you not only risk missing out on a crucial marketing tool, you also risk appearing behind-the-times to your customers, to your lenders and to the media who can bring you publicity. Being hip to social networking shows you want to communicate with your customers whenever and wherever. If you’re not an expert in the field, then find someone who is. Take a SCORE webinar on social media or find a workshop in your area. You can find local and online events at SCORE.org.

  • Make a Plan B.

Especially in an uncertain economy, it’s important to have some backup plans and some flexibility in your target market, your product/service focus or both. Describe possible situations that might occur and how you’ll respond.  Make a plan: If the market goes one way, you’ll go this way. If your service becomes obsolete, here’s how you’ll make it current.

  • Include your keen understanding of your market.

What sets you apart from other businesses in your industry? Here’s the place to brag about who you are and why you are an important player in the industry. Whether you’re preparing this business plan to attract new vendors or you’re trying to get financing, it’s important to list all your advantages over your competition. You must take pride in yourself and know more about your product or service than your competitor—and if you don’t, you’d better learn. Attend trade shows, communicate with peers and keep an eye on the market by talking with experts. Make an appointment with someone in your field at SCORE, and you may learn a thing or two.

About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her blog at SmallBizDaily.com. Visit her website SmallBizTrendCast to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.