Entire industries revolve around business plans. Accounting, consulting and banking spring to mind. But if you're running your own business and you're not looking to get external financial support, do you really need a business plan?
The answer seems to be yes, but not a 'business plan' in the general sense of the word. Last year, this article on smartcompany seemed to indicate that planning was pretty important but needed to be done the right way.
By 'the right way', the researchers concluded that if it was undertaken too soon after the business was formed, or if it took too long to complete, then its value was reduced. So once the business is underway, it's a good idea to produce a business plan fairly quickly, so it remains relevant to business conditions.
What marketing the business is planning is also pretty important. In the words of Milan Kundera, author of The Incredible Lightness of Being (and someone with a viewpoint from outside the world of business) ..
'Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation'
Some - generally larger - businesses start the planning process for the next year around September/October the year before. My guess is that this is pretty unusual for SME's, with planning taking place... maybe around now!
In just the same way that doing a quarterly BAS forces you to review what's going on in your business financially every three months, so it's a good idea to review your main driver of new customers - your marketing - at least annually, if not more often.
And it doesn't have to be a huge opus - a review of what worked and didn't work in the previous 12 months and a review of what strategies should be continued or dropped and which new ones should be tested out, shouldn't take too long. Then write out a short plan based on this assessment, and follow it. And then you can adjust it on the fly as you need to.
This is a Monday Marketing Minute.