Getting a yearly physical at the doctor’s office. Getting a semi-annual check-up at the dentist's office. Getting your car serviced when it hits a certain mileage. These are life tasks we are accustomed to doing in order to maintain the overall health of ourselves and our possessions while keeping everything running smoothly.
Similarly, entrepreneurs need to complete certain tasks to maintain the overall health of their business. One of those tedious but critical tasks is creating a business plan — a strategic tool for entrepreneurs to map out their short-term and long-term objectives. Often this formal business plan is shared with stakeholders, employees, and investors. A more informal business plan could simply consist of your upcoming goals and how you intend to reach them.
On December 17, 2018, we asked our Twitter audience about how far in advance they make business plans as an entrepreneur. Below are the results:
Of our respondents, 43 percent voted that they plan their business annually, while 36 percent said they plan quarterly and 21 percent voted that they plan monthly.
There is no right answer to how far in advance you should plan your business. Some businesses demand more preparation and time invested on the front end, while others require less. Sometimes there are specific goals you or your investors are trying to meet, but other times you can reach your own goals with less structure in place.
In any case, we recommend doing your research before you start crafting your business plans. There are plenty of insightful resources that discuss business planning. For example, The 12 Week Year offers advice on how to get more done in 12 weeks than in 12 months — which may be useful if you're looking for big growth in a shorter timespan.
Here are some of Incfile's blog posts discussing various topics relevant to business planning that may be a great resource for you:
Whether you are planning monthly or annually, make sure your business plan is thoughtful, detailed and action-oriented. Consider your goals for 10 minutes from now as well as 10 years from now. You can use a comprehensive business plan as a source of wisdom and guidance to ensure you stay the course you crafted for your business.
Want to cast your vote in our next poll? Be sure to follow Incfile’s Twitter page to stay up to date on all things Incfile, as well as share your experiences as a small business owner.
Lisa Crocco is a marketer for an international food manufacturer by day and a freelance writer/marketer for startups and small businesses by night. She's written for outlets like USA Today College, Career Contessa, CloudPeeps and Fairygodboss.