If you’re a business owner, you probably find yourself caught up in day-to-day operations, just trying to stay ahead of everything on your to-do list. But another major item on that list should be planning. Your business needs to be supported by a variety of plans. Do you have the following in place?
A Business Plan
You should start out with an overall business plan for your company if you don’t already have one. If you do have one in place, make sure it is up to date. Your business plan is your foundational document. It should lay out your company’s purpose, products or services, major roles and tasks, marketing overview, budget and future goals. Revisit your business plan frequently to see if your company is operating as expected or if you need to make changes.
A Sales Plan
Your business should also have a current sales plan. This will guide your inventory management, your sales techniques, your pricing and other important elements involving your products and/or services. It will help you set goals and identify your target markets, too.
A Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is another required element for your company. It will help you determine how you’ll reach out to your customers. You should include items like marketing channels and techniques, target audiences, scheduling and promotions. Your marketing plan will probably need to change frequently as you respond to changing circumstances, new products or services and expanding audiences, so update it regularly.
A Customer Relations Plan
You will also need to have a plan that details your customer relations outside of marketing. This should include a strategy for handling customer complaints and product returns but also ideas about how to show your appreciation for your customers. You might outline special celebrations throughout the year or develop a customer loyalty program that offers discounts or prizes for returning customers.
An Employee Plan
On the other side of the spectrum, you should have a plan in place that presents a full range of employee procedures. These might include hiring, reviews and dismissals, promotions, payment schedules, benefits and anything else that will make your relations with your employees smoother. Make sure your employees have access to all of this information in an employee handbook so that they know where to look when they have questions.
A Financial Plan
Every business needs a financial plan. This includes your budget, of course, but it should also get into your plans for financial growth, investment, savings and debt reduction. Be as detailed as you possibly can with this plan, for the continuing existence and development of your business depends on a solid financial foundation.
A Technology Plan
Technology is a major part of business these days, and you should plan for it. Lay out your current technology first, and then think about possible upgrades. Your plan should cover everything from your website to your computer network. Determine the kinds of software you want to start using over time and the upgrades you would like to make. Don’t neglect to research open source software options, too, for these could save you quite a bit of money over time.
A Disaster Plan
Everyone hopes that the worst won’t happen, but in reality, it could, so you need to have a disaster plan to be prepared for it. Your plan might be arranged by categories so that you know exactly what to do in case of various calamities. Have a plan for fire, flood, storm damage, violence and any other potential disaster you can think of. Make sure that every employee has a copy of this plan and knows how to respond if such events do occur.
A Future Plan
Finally, a future plan should lay out your short-term and long-term goals in a general sort of way. It can refer to other plans, but it may help to see your goals in one place so that you can focus on meeting them.
All of this planning will take time and effort, but it will be worth it to have your company better organized.