The new year always brings plenty of opportunities. For many people, those opportunities are expressed in resolutions – lose weight, join a gym (and then go regularly), take up running or tennis, improve their golf game, eat a better diet (“more healthy”), read more, take more time off to spend with the family, visit places on the bucket list, and more.
For those of us in business, the new year’s expectations are often, but not always, expressed in a business plan. That plan can be a formal written document – even if it’s just handwritten – or it can be a more casual idea of what we want to do that is only partially written down or maybe just kept in our head.
Regardless of how we approach 2019, and whether this is our first year in business on our own or we’ve been at it for a while, we want to plan for success. Otherwise, there would be no point. We have to serve our clientele in an outstanding way, and we have to make enough money doing it that we can remain in business and sustain it – or even grow it if that is our plan.
Putting together a business plan doesn’t have to take days to do, but it should have enough thought put into to drive our actions for the coming year. We want to be careful that we aren’t just copying a plan we found online as an example of how to write a business plan or one that we just dashed off to say that we had one. This is not being graded by anyone – it’s for our own personal use. No one else needs to look at it or have a copy of it. It is by us for us, unless we have partners who participate in the corporate direction.
Our business plan needs to be given the proper amount of thought so that it accurately expresses how we want to conduct our business this year. It is subject to change and revision as the year goes on, so it can be a fluid document. However, at a minimum, it should outline the basic parameters of our business – who we are, who we serve, why we are in business, and what we want to achieve. It should also discuss our sales and marketing plans.
There are many types and styles of business plans – nearly as many as there are people writing them – so our purpose here is not to suggest what it should look like or all of the details it should include but just to reinforce the importance of having one. Again, it can be brief – in a summary or outline form – or it can be quite detailed and several pages in length.
What we need to decide is where we want our business to go this year. Think of our business plan like a GPS. We are at the beginning of our journey, and we want to arrive at our destination at the end of the year. There may be some detours and unexpected congested areas, but we have the ability now to chart our course. This is what planning does.
Just because we had a particular type of business last year does not mean that we have to continue in this direction – unless we found it beneficial and want to build on the progress we have made. We can change the scope of our business or practice and focus on new types of clients if we prefer. We can do general aging in place projects that focus more on universal design or visitability concepts, or we can provide more specific solutions for people with progressive or traumatic needs.
To market our services, once we determine what we want to provide and who we intend to serve – and the general geographic area where we want to work – we have many choices. We can advertise, rely on our websites, use social media, or build relationships with our strategic partners and local referring professionals.
For working with clients with specific needs, referring professionals can quite important because they can direct us to their clients if we have a good working relationship with them and they know the type of work we do. They can be from the medical field (physicians, nurses, discharge planners, rehabilitation specialists, or case managers), from insurance companies, personal injury attornies, public adjusters, home inspectors, or others who are working directly with a client of theirs and then hand that client off to us to continue serving them.
Strategic partners, in addition to helping us deliver a project where their work is essential, are those individuals or companies representing several different fields who find a job that we can do and then bring us into it to work alongside them.
This year can be a great one. More people than ever before are declaring their desire to age in place so there is an upward swing on potential new business. We just need to decide what we are going to provide and then determine how to connect with the people who need our help.