Prepare the Final Draft of Your Business Plan
When you have a working draft of your business plan, look at the document as a whole to make sure that all the pieces fit together. For example, your company overview should reflect your mission statement, your assessment of the business environment should be in sync with your business strategy, and your company strategy should support goals and objectives.
If your plan is a team effort, devote extra effort to a review of the overall document. Sometimes the right hand doesn’t know exactly what the left hand is doing, even when you have a solid outline for everyone to work from. The best way to catch inconsistencies or omissions is to have all the members of your planning team read your draft plan in its entirety.
Ask for feedback about your business plan
After the draft makes its way to a more polished version, enlist the help of people who haven’t been involved along the way. Outside readers will see the document with fresh eyes and are more likely to catch discrepancies or places where the language isn’t crystal clear.
As you enlist help for this review, invite people who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is — even if that means giving you a thumbs down on parts of your plan. Be clear that the plan is a working draft and that you welcome any and all comments, positive or negative.
But also ask your critics to provide constructive help. If something isn’t working in the plan, ask them to tell you why and to suggest ways to fix the problem.
Don’t panic if your reviewers come back with all sorts of suggestions or constructive criticism. This just means that they’re doing exactly what you asked by helping you identify problems and fix them now — before your plan hits the desk of a banker, investor, or business partner. A little criticism won’t hurt; it will make your business plan much more effective.
Schedule a business plan review and revision now
It’s hardly news to you now that a strong business plan — and an ongoing business planning process — is the key to success. Before you dot the last i and cross the last t of your written plan, put another kind of plan in place: a timetable for when you will begin the process of reviewing and revising your plan.
Our suggestion is to reevaluate your plan once a year. If your business hits a rough patch, however, or if it’s growing very fast, you may need to revisit your plan more often. This is especially true if your business is technology- or web-based. In these cases, remember that you don’t have to undertake the entire process. You can focus in on the relevant sections of the plan — marketing, for example — and leave the rest in place.