Enhance Your Business Plan with Research and Development
A critical element of business planning, research and development, or R&D, refers to your ability to gain knowledge in order to design, develop and enhance your product, services, technologies, or processes. If your company is a high-tech firm, R&D is number one on the list of capabilities crucial to your long-term success.
Just because your company isn’t technology- or manufacturing-based, however, don’t assume that R&D isn’t a necessary capability. Even a one-person consulting business needs research ability to track the competitive arena, find out about prospective customers, and keep on top of industry and client news.
For example, a business that liquidates households for people who can’t do so on their own hardly seems in need of R&D capability. But, think again. The Internet now plays a starring role in the sale of antiques and collectibles — whether through online auctions or through specialized auction and antique sales sites.
And even if the business owners never go near an online sale, almost certainly they’ll use online resources to find out what people are paying for items like the ones they’re selling.
For other businesses, R&D is the key to enhancing business skills, enlarging product and service portfolios, and staying on top of customer, industry, and competitive research. Ways to improve your R&D skills include
Attending trade shows with research-related sessions
Taking industry-specific courses, in person or online
Joining social media networks of people in your field who share findings, ideas, and advice
Completing certification programs
Updating your computer skills
Keeping up-to-date with trade journals
Joining an industry group
Broadening your awareness of industry, market area, consumer, and industry issues and opportunities
Your business plan should include a section that addresses your R&D capabilities, including the following:
The importance of R&D to your competitive success
A concise description of your current R&D capacity (including description of the expertise of staff and contract sources)
Your agenda for R&D over the next year
Planned R&D expenditures over the next year
Your long-term R&D goals