Planning for Long-Term Success

Sandy Summers, Assistant Director, LSBDC

Do you remember the relief and joy you felt when your company’s business plan was finally completed? The roadmap, designed to guide you to entrepreneurial success can now be printed, bound and placed neatly on the shelf for all to see. But wait, this is not a school project to be “shelved” and admired. Your business plan should be considered a living document and serve as a blueprint for achieving maximum performance.

The common elements of a business plan help determine whether or not the venture is feasible and how you’re going to achieve success over the next five years and beyond. This is a serious undertaking that is laborious and sometimes frustrating. But it will test assumptions and identify any fatal flaws in your concept before too much is lost. “A Business Plan is like a dry run to see if there is a major problem with your business before losing any money,” says Mike McKeever, author of How to Write a Business Plan. The idea of automatic success in any industry is rare. Your plan should be written with as much knowledge about your property’s operations, market, accounts, guests and brand-driven costs as possible. It should have specific measurable goals and be reviewed on a regular basis. If you do not have a plan in place, you need to get one in place quickly.

When you review your plan, consider how you will measure financial and operating performance against your plan. Are you on track with both revenue and expense projections? Are you measuring your success by department, by accounts and by guest satisfaction scores? Do you have the right team in place? If you are achieving a particular goal, are you sure you know why? If the answer is no to any of these questions, you need to ask, “Why am I not on plan?” Is
there anything that can help you get there, or do you need to reflect on the situation moving forward? Every evaluation of your plan should include revisions that adjust strategies and tactics to better meet goals based on the current situation.

During the course of your company’s existence, the business plan will be used for a variety of purposes such as securing funding or entering into strategic partnerships. No matter the size or stage of evolution of your company, the business plan helps achieve success by keeping the organization on track, making sure certain resources are aligned with goals, and serving as a mechanism of checks and balances.

The longevity and overall health of your business depends on you and your knowledge of key drivers that direct your business. Keep your plan alive and relevant–review and update it at least once a year to adapt to internal and external changes. Don’t leave your plan on the shelf. Plan your work and work your plan!

The Louisiana Small Business Development Center provides assistance and business consulting to entrepreneurs across the state. Visit to find the center in your area

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