Guidelines to using your business plan

Once you’ve completed your business plan, you're in a position to transform what you've learned into action – looking ahead to a successful and prosperous future in business.

Once you’ve completed your business plan, you're in a position to transform what you've learned into action – looking ahead to a successful and prosperous future in business.

Seize your opportunities and overcome your challenges

Is your business too dependent on a single supplier? Then it may be time to find another.

Has a new customer moved into your neighbourhood? If so, it’s probably time to knock on their door. Take decisive action to seize opportunities and overcome challenges that you've identified.

Below are some guidelines to using your business plan in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Share your plan

Share your business plan with the people you trust – those people who’ll be able to give you sound advice going forward. They may include your banker, accountant, colleagues in your industry, advisors, and your family.

What questions do they have? Do they have suggestions about how you can improve your plan?

Make use of your cash flow projections

Use the findings from your cash flow projections to get cash on hand before you need it. The earlier you address financing needs, the better position you'll be in to achieve your goals.

Cash flow projections are financial statements that forecast when (and how much money) your business would collect and pay out over a specified period of time – usually one year, and they help you to budget money coming in against money going out.

Speak with your banker about financing options. Ask yourself whether you’ll:

  • Put more money into your business.
  • Seek outside investors.
  • Apply for a loan.

Measure your progress

Measure your progress on a monthly basis. Your business plan is really a benchmarking tool - it's a way for you to see whether it’s meeting your expectations.

How is your actual performance comparing to your projected income statements and your cash flow projections? Are you on track to meet your business objectives? Are you staying true to your personal goals?

Communicate

Use your business plan to communicate better with suppliers, advisors, professionals, and your staff. Depending on which of these groups you’re talking to, there are certain sections of your plan you’ll want to share and others that you don’t.

But the better people understand your business, the better they'll be able to work with you.

Don’t forget to review

All effective business plans have two things in common – accurate detail and readability. You may find that you need to alter the detail in your plan if it’s not connecting with people.

Review your business plan at least once a year – and consider revising it whenever significant changes occur:

  • In your personal life.
  • Inside your business.
  • In the marketplace.
  • In the economy.

Discuss any changes on the horizon

Be sure to discuss changes in your plan with your key advisors such as your banker, accountant and lawyer. Their advice could prove crucial before you make any decisions to alter the course of your business plan.

Next steps