Many a business plan has been started during the birth of a social enterprise and completed, only to be subsequently forgotten and left to gather digital dust on a hard drive.
And, when you think about it, that’s a fair amount of time wasted really, isn’t it?
Business plans should be living, breathing documents; they’re never finished.
In this blog post, we’re going to offer five pieces of advice for updating your plan to ensure it remains current, relevant and capable of fostering growth.
1. Make everything subject to question
As noted, your business plan must be seen as a living document – you can change, add and remove elements whenever you like.
The values and goals your social enterprise holds dear and which probably inspired the plan in the first place should probably remain intact (unless there have been seismic changes to account for), but everything else should be subject to question.
Continually revisit the plan and ask if you got it right the first time; you may not have done.
2. Be ultra honest with yourself
The most successful social entrepreneurs are ultra honest with themselves.
This is how you need to approach revisions to your business plan. The original ideas and strategies you had may have been conceived when you were feeling very different.
How do you feel now?
A groundbreaking idea back then might sound lukewarm now. Put pride to one side in such instances and be honest. Can you improve upon the idea or should it be removed entirely?
3. Respond to the market
Industries never stand still. Some change every day.
When you spot changes in your market that are likely to impact the way your social enterprise operates, it’s important you revisit the original plan and adjust your approach.
Ignore this step and you’ll be in danger of quickly falling behind the competition.
4. Ditch jargon and business speak
This is a common error when first creating a business plan.
Because it feels so official and business-like (because, well, it is a business plan…) you may have fallen into the trap of leaning on business speak and jargon to outline your plans for the social enterprise.
Have another read of the document. Does it flow naturally or sound like an introduction from a contestant on The Apprentice? If it’s the latter, rewrite the sections that need to be humanised.
5. Remove the focus on funding
If your social enterprise needed an injection of capital to get off the ground, you will have understandably written the business plan so that it resonates with investors.
Now, you’ve got that investment and things are going well, so why not revisit the document and turn the elements that were clearly designed to attract funding into plans that reflect where your social enterprise is now.
For many social entrepreneurs, the mere mention of the phrase ‘business plan’ will draw long sighs and rolled eyes, but it remains one of the most important documents you have in your locker.
Just don’t discard it once you feel it’s done its job, because that job never ends.