6 Strategies for Successful Business Planning

6 Strategies for Successful Business Planning

Running a small business is never easy. Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your own company for years, whether you have a few loyal clients or a whole lot, whether your overhead is minimal or substantial, running a successful and profitable business takes a lot of work—rewarding work for sure, but hard work nonetheless.

Luckily, there are some ways to make it easier. While the Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has loads of resources—some we’ll tell you about here—that can help small-business owners, the best step you can take to improve your odds of success is to plan properly. In this article, we’re outlining six strategies you can implement for successful business planning.

1. Start Planning Early

It’s never too early to start planning. Never. Whether you have an idea you want to turn into a business, you have a business ready to launch, or you already have a successful business and are thinking of what to do next, a strategic plan is crucial.

The Oregon SBDC is here to help with your business planning at any stage. From startup to scaling, our advisers have the tools to help you build a solid foundation for your business. Tools like LivePlan simplify business planning, budgeting, forecasting, and performance tracking for our clients.

GrowthWheel is another tool our advisers use that provides a visual toolbox to help business owners make better decisions and take action in their businesses. Both of these tools are offered free of charge exclusively to Oregon SBDC clients.

2. Set Your Goals

Your strategic business plan needs to include more than just ideas. While the vision of a business is an important component, a key factor to success is setting SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Oftentimes a big goal is tied to several smaller goals you need to achieve along the way. For this reason, some business owners set goals by month or quarter, while others set goals for the year. The right timeline to choose depends on you and your business goals.

3. Identify Your Staffing Needs

When people think about goals for businesses, they typically think about financial targets they want to hit, potential physical expansions, new strategies for upcoming product launches, and the like. But another factor that merits consideration and forward planning is your business’s future staffing needs, especially in today’s climate.

If your business goals include expanding your operations, the number of full-time, part-time, and/or contracted workers will likely change. The cost and time it will take to hire for your staffing needs requires planning.

4. Understand Your Financials

Awareness of your business and personal finances is a vital part of successful business planning. Even if you’re “in the black” and seeing profits, understanding your finances is important when making decisions and planning for the future of your business. And this means knowing more than just what’s in your bank account.

Understanding how much money is coming in and going out each month, product costs, the cost to manufacture, the cost of goods sold, labor costs, fixed and variable costs—these are all numbers you need to know so you can make decisions for your business. Your financial indicators are the drivers of your business, and if you don’t understand them, it can be easy to make a costly mistake.

5. Put Together Your Marketing Plan

A marketing plan may sound like the kind of thing that only big businesses with their own massive internal marketing departments need to do. But small, local businesses need a marketing plan, too. And just like any other part of running a business, your marketing requires a carefully thought out and meticulously detailed plan.

From the channels you will use to the creative you want to deploy to your monthly marketing budget—write it down. Building and implementing a successful marketing plan can help your business grow exposure and revenue.

6. Evaluate the Previous Year

When you’re running a small business, there are times when you’ll need to look back in order to move forward. Looking back can be fun, especially if you’ve experienced growth in your business and can count your wins over the year. It can also be hard, if you’ve experienced a challenging year that didn’t live up to your expectations.

How to Get a Business Loan in Oregon

How to Get a Business Loan in Oregon

Oregon is packed with over 320,000 small businesses. Many of these ventures started with a great idea. But to turn a concept into reality, you need money. An Oregon small-business loan can help you get your business off the ground or take an existing one to the next level. Keep reading to learn how you can get lines of credit for the working capital you need to make sure your company is one of the strongest small businesses in the state.

How to Use an Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

If you’re starting or expanding a small business in Oregon, you don’t have to go it alone. Both new and existing business owners can approach an Oregon Small Business Development Center for guidance and resources. Even if all you have is an idea, a Small Business Development Center can help you get everything in place so you’re ready to approach lenders about getting a loan.

An Oregon Small Business Development Center can help you transform your business idea—no matter how well-developed it is—into a solid plan designed to secure the funding you need.

For Existing Businesses

If you’re applying for funding for an existing business and you need your first loan, a Small Business Development Center can help ensure that your plan has the right content and structure. For example, they can make sure it emphasizes your current earnings—and those you will get as a result of the new funding—in a way that’s honest, realistic, and compelling for a lender.

Also, as a seasoned business owner, your organization may have some qualities that can make it more appealing to a lender. An Oregon Small Business Development Center can help you identify attributes that can enhance the appeal of your business.

For New Businesses

A business plan is essential, and many new business ideas may not have one already in place. But don’t worry: SBDCs specialize in helping you formulate thorough plans that can get you the funding you need.
A strong business plan outlines several key elements of your business model, marketing strategy, product or service development, and structure. A plan needs to include the following:

  • A detailed description of products or services, including their strengths, weaknesses, and plans for upgrading or adjusting them
  • Profiles of your target customers
  • Marketing strategies for each kind of customer
  • Sales techniques and tools you will need
  • Product development life cycle plans, including future phases of development for each product or service you provide
  • A plan for how you will spend the money you borrow
  • A financial plan outlining when and how you will repay your funds
  • Your business structure (LLC, corporation, etc.)
  • A detailed outline of each principal’s responsibilities
  • A description of the physical resources, equipment, inventory, and other items needed to support your business
  • Any real estate requirements, such as a shop or office space rental

Once this is accomplished, you can approach a lender with the kind of plan that inspires confidence in your success. Oregon SBDCs have access to LivePlan, an online business plan resource that makes sure your plan is complete and suits your kind of business.

Options for Getting Loans

To get a loan for your business, you have a few different options, including:

  • A Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. While the SBA itself doesn’t lend money, it works with lenders and has standards you have to meet to qualify for the loans its lenders offer.
  • A private lender. A private lender can be anyone from a friend or relative to a venture capitalist. Regardless, you will need to have a business plan in place before approaching any private party about funding.
  • The Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (EDLF) from Business Oregon. This organization provides direct loans for start-ups and small businesses that made less than $1.5 million in the past 12 months or are owned by a severely disabled individual.
  • An Economic Development District entity set up by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA has districts across the country that support the development of economies in those areas. In some cases when a bank can give you only some of the funds you need, the EDD may be able to help you find the rest.

Does the Government Hand Out Business Loans?

The short answer is “Sometimes”—but only to people who have strong business plans that address a pressing need the government has. Generally speaking, unless your business solves a specific problem the government is facing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get a loan from any state, local, or national governmental entity.

With a strong business plan in hand, you have plenty of options for securing a loan to fund your new or existing venture. To locate an Oregon SBDC near you, visit our website.