This National Small Business Week, Think Forward

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It’s National Small Business Week again, and we’re celebrating the blood, sweat and tears you put into your company. It takes courage, commitment, and even a little bit of crazy, to be an entrepreneur. And to succeed takes even more.

Whether you’re running a thriving small business, just getting started, or struggling to get by, you’re part of the backbone of the American economy. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses employ roughly half of the people in the United States. You may not have all of the bells and whistles of a multinational corporation, but your small business is cut from the same cloth and has the same entrepreneurial spirit this country was founded on.

It’s not an easy road to take. In fact, only about half of small businesses, according to the SBA, continue to operate past the five year mark. Still, small businesses help cities thrive, drive innovation, and provide opportunities for families across the country. This National Small Business Week, we urge you to focus on the future of your business – let’s move forward.

Moving Your Small Business Forward

In a small business environment, you have to wear many hats. Your responsibilities can range from that of a business strategist to an accountant to a sales representative. With so many things on your plate today, it can be difficult to think about tomorrow. That’s one of the great challenges of being a small business owner (though it’s also one of the rewards).

Finding the time to sit down and think about the future when you’re juggling all of this is hard, but it’s crucial. There’s proof that business planning has a positive impact on business performance. And not just startups, either; even established businesses see improvements after they implement a plan to guide their steps and manage their expectations. Small businesses can rely on their plan to help them overcome obstacles and establish which goals and initiatives they need to prioritize.

Business planning isn’t sexy—but it’s fundamental in setting your business on the path to success.

So this National Small Business Week, take some time to create a plan for your business. If you already have a plan, review and update it (consider doing that regularly).

Not sure where to start? Writing a small business plan might seem like a big undertaking. It can be, but you don’t have to start with a full-blown plan that will impress venture capital investors—unless, of course, you’re pitching VCs. Just start thinking about what you do well and how you can capitalize on it. Make a list and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your company’s goals? Strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What makes your business stand out from competitors?
  • What do your competitors do better than you?
  • How can you catch up to your competitors in that area?
  • What can you do to maintain or improve the profitability of your company in the future?

This last question is key, because the answer could determine the trajectory of your business. You may be able to address some of these areas immediately. Maybe you need to tweak your marketing strategy to draw in a different customer profile or take over part of the supply chain process to increase margins. It might be as simple as financing some of your inventory to conserve working capital.

Now that we’ve jotted some notes down, let’s start writing your full-fledged business plan.

Writing a Business Plan

At face value, writing a business plan can be a bit daunting. If you’re looking to land some venture capital investments, you might need the help of a professional, but most small business owners just need a little help and access to the right resources. The Small Business Administration has its own dedicated page about writing a basic business plan including a Business Plan Tool, which is a huge help for beginners. The SBA provides best practices, gives an overview of what to include, and offers sample business plans as a reference.

At the same time, companies like Bplans.com are completely dedicated to helping small business owners plan for the future.* You can find articles about business planning, templates, and software for creating and sharing a fully featured, branded business plan.

Need more help? Check out these great resources we have found on the web, many are free:

Now, it’s time to put your plan into action. Keep a copy where you can reference it, and when you make business decisions, think about whether or not it supports your plan. Also keep in mind, successful small businesses are flexible. They can adjust their plans and strategies as the market changes and old tactics become obsolete. Just keep moving forward.

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*Shared for informational purposes only or as an example; We do not control or maintain the material nor officially endorse or sponsor the websites.