TDmonthly Magazine!
September 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 9


Retailing Tips: Revising Your Business Plan

Record Specific Goals and Share Your Strategy

“My original plan was to be open on a kiosk for one holiday season in 2003. Six years later, my store is 4000 square feet.” Angel Stahl, Angel’s Toy Barn
A business plan is a living document, meant to be revised periodically. It is your one-, three- and five-year plan, which, at any given time, should reflect your plans for the next few years. One of the benefits of being a small business owner is that you have the flexibility to change with the times, the economy, customers’ needs, or your own desires.

“We can change quickly, as opposed to a big-box store,” Paula Bolte, owner of Imaginations Toy & Furniture Co. in Blacksburg, Va., told TDmonthly.

Before I opened my retail store, I had a plan I used to secure financing and a lease, but it said we would be located in an old building in a historic district. When we leased space in a modern shopping center, both our sales and expenses blew my original business plan out of the water, and the situation needed to be re-evaluated.

Angel Stahl, owner of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., related a similar experience: “My original plan was to be open on a kiosk for one holiday season in 2003. Six years later, my store is 4000 square feet. The plan went out the window after the first month of planning.”

So why plan at all? Several business owners told TDmonthly they did not have a written business plan — that they were the business plan. But a written plan is wise, as it helps focus your ideas and communicate them to others.

For a business already in operation, a business plan doesn’t need to be much more than a list of goals and steps to achieve them. It’s easy to say or visualize a growth in sales of 10 percent or 20 percent next year, but how to you know the moves you make are going to make that happen?

Here are some “to dos” for either easily updating your existing business plan, or creating one for the first time.

1. Update recent financials. At minimum, insert a chart or list of your monthly sales and expenses for at least the last year. If you had a prediction for that period of time, how did it compare?

2. Update your SWOT. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You can find more information about it in almost any book on business plans. It can be as simple as a list that helps guide you in deciding what your upcoming goals should be. For example, in my last business plan, I listed “empty space next door” as an opportunity. Putting it on the list was the start of a road map to seeing whether or not the business could take advantage of that opportunity. An example of a threat was the new competing store that was about to open.

3. Will you make major changes? If you have a plan to increase your store space, for example, write down the why and how. Why does this make sense? How will it be financed? What are the financial projections once it’s done?

4. What are your goals? Think about your goals for the next year, three years and five years, using actual numbers. For example, don’t say, “increase sales;” instead, say “increase sales by 10 percent.” Also, look at your SWOT list and see if there’s anything there that can be turned into a goal.

5. List the steps to achieve each goal. What are you going to do to get a 10-percent increase in sales? More marketing? Adding a new line of product or service? Or training your employees in sales techniques?

6. Share with your staff. Unless you are the only employee in your business, you may need to rely on others to make your plan a reality. Make sure anyone involved in helping you achieve your business goals is aware of your updated business plan. Your store manager or your whole staff may be involved if you need to train them in new products or services.

Good luck!

Adeena MignognaWriter's Bio: Adeena Mignogna is an entrepreneur and writer who specializes in writing about small business, particularly retail. She started her own retail business in 2002 and operated it for more than five years. Now, she helps others through ups and downs in their business ventures. Adeena is the author of "Cute Little Store: Between the entrepreneurial dream and business reality" and the soon-to-be-released "Cute Little Store 2: What ever happened to that cute little store?" Read more articles by this author


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