A business plan is a necessary tool if you want to grow in a sustainable way. Too often it is seen as a required document, put together, before you go to investors or the bank. Unfortunately its real value isn’t recognized. In fact it forms the backbone of your company.
You want to grow: review your business plan
You cannot make well-founded strategic decisions if you do not have a thorough understanding of your market and a down-to-earth view of your financial plan. That’s why it is important to review your business plan at regular intervals.
Does it still meet your goals, your ambition? Has your team changed or expanded? Is your market analysis still correct? Are there new players on the market? Is there an technology that might disrupt your industry? Which trends are influencing buying behavior of your customers? Are you planning to grow, to develop new products, service or are you going to enter a new market segment … all good reasons to re-examine.
A good business plan stand or fall by your market analysis and your situational awareness. Situational awareness is the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status. In other words, it’s knowing what is going on around you.
William Pirraglia, a former financial & management executive once said: “Consider spending twice as much time researching, evaluating and thinking as you spend actually writing the business plan. To write the perfect plan, you must know your company, your product, your competition and the market intimately.”
The better you know the situational awareness, the better you understand the business ecosystem in which you are active.
Some tips to improve your situational awareness:
1. look at your market from different angles;
2. collect information and opinions from key stakeholder about the customer journey.
This phase often yields fresh insights in what drives the market and who are competitors from a customer point of view. As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to know not only your company, but also the context you are in. It’s crucial to know as much as possible about the sector that you’re entering.
To be prepared to run your own race and grow
A market analysis is a great starting point, but it is not sufficient anymore. A static report is often outdated by the time it’s finished. Industries are being disrupted by the speed of light and markets are shifting all the time. Previous competitors can become your partners and customers. New players can enter the market any time and your customer’s need can switch fast.
This research is an ongoing task, that demands a lot of energy, dedication and follow-up. Successful business development requires a strategy that matches your specific business environment. You need a dynamic analysis which keeps you up to date on the market and the players in your industry, you need a clear view on your situational awareness.
You get a dynamic insight on your market if you collect this information in a systematic way. As a result your market will leverage. You will strengthen your position within your market and your business will grow on a sustainable way.
Bonus tip: add an executive summary to your business plan: a one-pager where you show a clear and to-the-point snapshot of your business, built on your situational awareness.