5 Things That Make A Long-Term Business Plan ReliableSeptember 11, 2017
Most entrepreneurs will have an idea of what they want their business to achieve, but not all will solidify this in a long-term business plan. Long-term strategy and planning can help focus and guide all that your business does, leading to more successful results and allowing you to achieve definitive goals. Although putting ideas to paper can initially take time and force you to conceptualise potentially abstract ideas, practical long-term plans can be invaluable for steering your business’ direction and success. Here are some key tips for creating an effective long-term plan.
Define your vision
Firstly, you will want to set out a short paragraph about your business and your vision. Make sure you consider all defining factors about your company; these can have a big effect on the direction and image of your company. For example: what do you do? What do you want your company to become? What makes your product/service special? Your answers to these questions can help inform strategy and your goals for the future of your business.
Analyse your business
Knowing your business inside out will ensure that you can make well-informed decisions over direction and strategies. A good place to start is to carry out a SWOT analysis. This technique sees you considering the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your individual business. Make sure your analysis stays realistic and is backed by facts and figures.
Knowing where you are doing well and where you can improve is very valuable and can inform business decisions such as where to reinvest profits and where to focus development.
Create long-term objectives
This can be the step that many entrepreneurs struggle with; solidifying abstract ideas of success into tangible goals is not always a quick or easy task. Depending on how fast-moving the sector your business is in, you should look at creating objectives for where you’d like to be in 1, 3 or 5 years time, or all of these increments. The objectives you create will be highly personal but could involve things such as a number of stores, percentage increases in profit, annual turnover, product development, expanding services, increasing market share, online presence or even sales numbers.
Create strategies for achieving objectives
Your long-term objectives are likely to be quite general, with little detail as to how to achieve them. That is fine as this next stage is where you break down each objective into smaller, short-term goals and strategies which will help you accomplish your overarching long-term objective.
It is a good idea to make sure your short-term goals are SMART, that is, they are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. This will help ensure they are well-focused and achievable. Around 3-5 short-term goals/steps for each long-term objective should be sufficient and these can be delegated to the appropriate members of your team for implementation.
Measure and review progress regularly
If you don’t review your goals and objectives regularly then you won’t be able to see whether you are on-track for achieving them or whether modifications are necessary. Particularly if the work towards an objective has been delegated, regular check-ins regarding progress, developments or problems can ensure plans stay relevant and effective. Reviews and time-oriented goals will help to ensure both you and your staff don’t become complacent, encouraging a continued drive for success.
For professional help in creating an effective long-term business plan and manageable, realistic and targeted objectives, speak to the specialists at Murray & Lamb. Our experienced chartered accountants and business advisors can help you with all aspects of business planning, from financial planning to help in navigating business regulations. For accounting services or business planning aid from a leading accountancy firm in the North East, get in touch with the team at Murray & Lamb – we are always happy to help.