Keep Your Business Plan Current
The business-planning process is never over. The only constant in business is change. Markets evolve; technologies emerge; customers and preferences change; and your company is bound to change as well. For these reasons, your business plan will always remain a work in progress.
The pace of change varies depending on your industry. If you manufacture high-speed telecom switches, your world is in constant motion. If you run the corner hardware store, change may come more slowly. But no business sector is immune to change at some level or another. And in virtually all businesses, these days, the pace of change has accelerated.
The medical profession is a prime example. For years, a medical practice was one of the most secure (and lucrative) businesses around. Everyone gets sick, after all, and doctors thought they had a well-defined, stable market for their services.
Along came managed care, and the business of doctoring changed dramatically — some would say for the worse. Health reform efforts will create even more change in this industry, as it will for the health insurance industry.
For further proof, consider the family farm. Farmers have always been at the mercy of the weather, but for generations, farming remained a pretty steady and predictable business in all other ways. Enter big agribusiness and new, sophisticated agricultural technologies — the business of farming changed forever from top to bottom. Now, with growing interest in organic produce and local production, small farms are coming back. Who would have thought?
Change isn’t all bad, by any means. It creates opportunities. In fact, it’s likely you wouldn’t be planning to start or expand your company if markets, customers, and competitors weren’t evolving in one way or another. However, change also poses threats — from the arrival of new competitors to the enactment of stringent new regulations — which is a big part of why you need to make business planning an ongoing process.