Why every business needs an Annual Business Plan by Helen White

An annual plan is a summary of where you are, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.  It is an incredibly useful tool that shouldn’t be dismissed as a luxury that only big businesses can afford.  To have an annual plan is as essential for a sole trader as it is for huge corporate’s.

But what is an Annual Business Plan?

Think of it as a map.

Imagine you’re in the middle of a wood with trees all around and you want to get to the other side. If you just start walking how do you know you’re walking in the right direction? There are loads of paths to take but which one is the right one for you?

Without a map you could be going around in circles. Sometimes you’d get it right and sometimes you’d end up circling backwards.  But if you had a map, you’d know how to get through the woods, you’d know which direction to take and find the most effective and efficient way for you.

 Your annual plan is a pathway to reach your ambitions:

  • It identifies your goals and objectives and the tasks that need to be done

  • It enables you to prioritise, to work out what you must do, what you’d like to do and what you should stop doing.

  • It provides focus and clarity to your to-do list

  • Identify elements you need help with

  • Enables you to budget effectively

  • Helps you set your sales targets and

  • Drives your marketing plan, social media strategies etc.

It sounds hard; it sounds boring?  It’s not!

When you’re a small business it’s so easy to find a reason NOT to spend time planning; especially with so many other more pressing things to be done.  Yes, it will take a bit of time to do and will take you away from revenue generating work… But having a good plan is so worth the effort and it’ll will make everything else so much easier once you have one.

And I can assure it’s anything but boring.  Your annual plan is a list of all the amazing things you want to achieve this year, broken down into tangible, realistic tasks that you can put into your calendar.  Having a plan means that everything you do will be focused on the bigger picture of where you want to get to.

What’s in your annual plan?

Your plan is broken down into 3 main areas:

Where you are now and how you got there: The best way to look forward is to start by looking backwards, your plan should include a summary of what you’ve done in the last 12 months. Taking a moment to reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the past year will help motivate you to keep moving forward and makes the tasks in front of you less daunting. 

Where you want to go:

  • One big overarching thing you want to achieve this year

  • 4 quarterly goals, these goals should fit comfortably within the ‘1 big thing’ umbrella

  • 12 objective one for each month, these should build towards your annual goal and in turn your 1 big thing

And how you get there – Your monthly to do list: Each month’s objective is split into the tasks that need to be done to achieve them, that are put against each month in the calendar

When building your business plan you should consider:

  • Who are your target customers?

  • What are your products? Do they need a refresh? Are you launching or developing anything new this year?

  • What’s your sales and marketing strategies? Are these defined, or do you need to build time into your plan to define them?

  • What’s your Financial situation like? Do you have a cashflow or budgets?

  • Any key external factors that are important moments that could influence your work calendar (like an industry conference or change in legislation etc

When to do your plan?

It’s called an annual plan, but really, it’s a 12-month rolling plan, so that means you can do it at any time of year.  For me though, January makes sense. It’s the start of a new year and a fresh start which provides me with inspiration and clarity that helps me structure the year ahead.  But you don’t have to wait to the turn of the year to do this, if it’s already February it doesn’t matter, just make some time and make your plan.

I said this is a rolling plan, you don’t just write your annual plan and then let it gather dust on your shelf until next year!  You use it to drive your weekly to-do lists, you should update it regularly and add to it as things start to unfold and new tasks arrive.

So now’s the time to put your head up, reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go, and then work out how you’re going to get there.

Imagine yourself in 12 months’ time, celebrating your most successful year yet, because you knew what you wanted to achieve and just how to do it!

About Helen in her own words:

“I’m Helen, the founder of Brilliant Together. I’m a proud mumpreneur, an expert at solving business problems and a fabulous listener!

My career in business strategy – working with both big & small businesses – and my experience of setting up Brilliant Together, mean I know how to help you.

I’m here to listen, advise, plan, do, support & to care. I know you need to surround yourself with genuine, skilled experts to help you get where you want to go, without compromising your small people!”

Here’s how you can contact Helen:

Email Us: hello@brillianttogether.co.uk

Telephone: 07747 014147

Website: www.brillianttogether.co.uk