There's a popular myth in small businesses that you only need to check your business plan once a year, or at most twice a year. I happen to disagree with this popular myth and think that it's actually a much better idea to review your business plan every three months, regardless of whether you've been running your business for a year or ten years.
The reason this is a good idea is that while a once a year review is good for getting a big picture perspective of how your business is changing, an examination of your business every three months is an even better idea, because it allows you to get very detailed oriented, as well as determine whether or not you are reaching your goals. Additionally, it allows you to change or adjust your business plan as needed for ongoing events, changes in business direction, or other pursuits that may occur during the course of the year.
A once a year examination can be good for reflecting back on how the business has changed, what you've learned in the last year, and to revisit both mistakes and triumphs that you can use to grow your business. It can also be used to set the overall tone for the new year. Creating vision board with goals for the next year can help you establish an overall big picture look at how you want your business to grow, as well as what you will do to make it grow.
However, making the time to examine your business plan every three months provides you another opportunity to look at your business plan from a detail-oriented perspective. The focus isn't on looking at the business as a whole, but instead looking at specific areas of the business where you want to improve what you are doing. For example, when I do my three months check, I look at specific areas of the business that I've worked on for the last three months, and determine if I've been successful in meeting my goals. If I have, then I look at areas of my business where I may need to improve that area of business. For this three months, I've been focusing on improving my ability to close my sales and also read how my prospects respond to my sales pitch. The prior three months focused on improving my media presence, by writing articles and doing public speaking at events. At the next three month checkmark, I'll focus on another area of my business which needs improvement.
By focusing in on the details of what I need to improve and what I already have accomplished, I'm able to spot areas of weakness in my business plan long before they develop to a point where they can really hurt my success. Instead, I can be proactive with my business, developing strategies that allow me to address areas I want to improve on, while also keeping myself realistic by developing an action plan that specifically addresses my goals.
Instead of looking at your business just once a year, trying taking a detail oriented examination of it once every three months, so that you can look at what you are currently doing well and adjust for what isn't working as well. You'll find that such an approach allows you to successfully meet your business challenges as they occur, while planning for how you can improve your business next. You'll also avoid feeling stressed or overwhelmed, because you'll be maintaining a detailed focus on your business and your strengths and weaknesses, and taking actions to keep your business successful.