You may dread pulling out your business plan to give it a fresh look. But if you take just a bit of time to keep it up to date, you'll be able to step back from the day-to-day and make sure you're still on the right path. And if it appears you're not, you can adjust your course instead of burying your head in the sand.
For a coffee shop that has grown and evolved, it’s almost unheard of for an original business plan to remain 100-percent relevant. But when you keep your plan current, it will help clarify your business direction and ensure that key employees are working from the same set of ideas.
An up-to-date business plan reminds you of your goals around marketing, strategy and operations. Have the sales you projected materialized? Is your value proposition resonating with your audience? Have you correctly estimated your competitors? Looking at your plan with fresh eyes will help you revisit any issues and decide whether or not you're on track.
Your business plan should include the following forecasts:
· Industry Analysis
· Marketing Plan
· Operations Plan (staff numbers, expenses)
· Financial analysis and sales growth
If you’re not meeting the goals outlined in your business plan, the above forecasts will bring the hard facts to light and allow you to act before it's too late. If sales in January are 10 percent less than expected, you can immediately reevaluate February and March and decide whether you need to start cutting expenses, try new marketing tactics, revamp your menu (maybe even prices), or explore ways to stretch your cash.
Revisiting a plan gives you this advance warning. You'll never know if the world is unfolding differently without a plan to help you measure reality.
But don't be afraid to change your business objectives when necessary. New opportunities, new problems, new people (staff or customers) are all good reasons to revisit your business plan—not just rapidly rising or declining sales.
The most important reasons for revisiting and revising your coffee business plan:
1. Expanding your operation or services
When business is good, it can be tempting to expand it in new directions. But be sure to consider the risk factors—such as market needs and operational costs. Crunch the numbers and assess whether expansion is viable, and how long it will take you to recoup your investment.
2. Buying an existing business
Buying another business will immediately grow your business, but you’ll need to be as sure as possible of the return on investment. Sellers may be going under, or inflating the value of their business to maximize the sale. Conduct a full audit of the business and create solid projections for how it will benefit your bottom line.
3. Shifting your business focus
Want to expand your hours and menu offerings? Branch out into catering? If you do, your target market will shift as well—along with your marketing strategy. Describing your target market in your business plan can help you accurately recognize and address prospective customers.
Measuring Success. A business plan is meant to help you realize professional and financial success. It can be used as a motivational tool to help you identify that success. And when success is achieved, you should revise your plan to help you reach new goals.
It can be helpful to schedule a quarterly date to review your business plan (or at least do it once or twice a year). The process can only help you find areas of weakness and opportunity—and thus help you succeed. Keeping your business plan current turns it into a document that helps run—rather than simply sell—your business.