• Business planning and strategy

Your Business Check Up: Annual Business Plan Review

Have you done a business check up lately? Make time to review your progress and plan for success in the coming year.

The business plan and goal setting that you completed as part of the application process will be a critical tool as you begin to build your business. This enables you to gauge your progress and to take corrective action when things don’t go according to plan.

As you approach the end of your first year in the program, we recommend a comprehensive business plan review. Be prepared to invest between one and five hours in your review and planning. At the end of the review you will have refocused, prioritized and planned for success in the coming year.

We have captured some best practice thinking around business reviews below:

  • Don’t be too concerned about getting it perfect – your plan may need to be revised over time to account for changing conditions. It’s better to have a completed plan with a few flaws than no plan at all.
  • Identify anticipated obstacles and how you expect to overcome these challenges. Be prepared – foresight can save you time, money and headaches.
  • Include a monthly one-year cash flow projection – this is the easiest way to measure your actual progress.
  • Be realistic, not optimistic when estimating sales and costs. Determine a worst case scenario and how it might impact your business.
  • Focus primarily on the next year – long term projections serve to provide direction but are rarely accurate.

Prior to writing or revising your business plan for the upcoming year, remember to spend an adequate amount of time reflecting on the progress you made on the previous year’s plan.

Finally, engage your mentor to improve the quality of your plan. Invite him or her to ask challenging questions and suggest specific ways to enhance the plan.

Business Plan Review Template

Use the template to support your business plan review and planning process. Simply make notes on progress to previous goals and identify your focus for the upcoming year.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis can help you understand how your business is positioned in relation to the market and your competitors, and thus provides verification of strategic/competitive analysis.

By carefully evaluating your business before creating next year’s business plan, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors. Create an overview of your business today by thinking through the questions to complete the chart below.

Internal FactorsWhat advantages does your company have?

What do you do better than anyone else?

What do people in your market see as your strengths?
What could you improve?

What should you avoid?

What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?

Are your competitors doing any better than you?
External FactorsWhere are the good opportunities facing you?

What are the interesting trends you are aware of?

Are social patterns changing in your favour?

Can new technologies or markets be exploited?

What obstacles do you face?

What is your competition doing?

Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?

Could any of your weaknesses put your business at risk?

Evaluate Business Plan Components

Use the following evaluation criteria to further assess the key areas of your business plan and ongoing development.

Remember: Simply make notes on progress to previous goals and identify your focus for the upcoming year.

Market Review
What have your key marketing initiatives been? Sales
How does this compare to your original marketing plan?Pricing
What are the key considerations for the business as you create next year’s marketing plan?Advertising and Promotion
What are the risks identified? And what contingencies have been advised?Competition
Operational Review
What are your key operational accomplishments during the past year? Product Quality
What areas for improvement still exist?Premises and equipment (technology)
How can your operational priorities contribute best to the success of the business next year?Human Resources

Risk Management
Management Review
Are the right people in the right roles? Knowledge, Skills, Abilities
What incentives have been introduced to drive the business (commitment)?Advisors
What gaps in the team need to be addressed?People Engagement