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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.netA strategic business plan isn’t something you put together, put on a shelf and forget about.  As your business grows, it often makes sense to revisit and review your strategic plan, both to make sure you’re still on track and to make sure the plan you created is still relevant to your company today. There are several benefits to reviewing your strategic plan, as well as times when it makes sense to adjust the plan to better fit your company’s needs or the business environment around it.

When to Review Your Strategic Plan

There are usually three times when it makes sense to check in with your company’s strategic plan. The first instance is to run an annual, semi-annual or quarterly review. Evaluating your plan at the end of the year or quarter lets you directly see where you met your goals and where you didn’t. It also allows you to make any adjustments to predictions you made in the plan, using actual revenue and expense figures.

Another instance when it makes sense to review your company’s strategic plan is when you’re experiencing a period of growth. Perhaps you’re about to launch a new product line or introduce a new service. Maybe your company is planning on opening a new branch or office space. Checking in with your strategic plan means you can adjust it to accommodate the growth in your company or the changes your company is experiencing.

Finally, the third instance when it makes sense to review your company’s plan is when there is an upheaval or change in the economy or market, particularly a change that affects your company. Perhaps a new product came out that makes the products your company offers obsolete. There could be a downturn in the market or a major catastrophe, like the housing crisis, that has a major impact on your company’s ability to grow.

How to Know If You Need to Make Changes

Any major change within or around your company is usually a sign that it is time to adjust your plan. For example, if you bring on a new executive or if you’ve recently elected new members to your company’s board, you may revise the plan to accommodate those changes.

Another sign that you need to adjust your company’s plan is if you’ve pivoted away from your initial goals or mission. Perhaps when you wrote the plan, you were expecting one product to be the “star” product of your company. But it turns out that the item you expected to be less popular is actually the more popular of the two. You might adjust your plan to focus more on the second plan and less on the initial product.

In some cases, you may need to change the plan because issues have cropped up that you didn’t anticipate. An issue with a supply chain might make it difficult for your company to achieve a certain goal within the timeframe you originally expected, for example. In another example, the funding environment around your company  might have changed. Perhaps you wrote the plan in the midst of a recession, when there wasn’t that much debt financing to be found. It might be that there are more lending opportunities today or that your company is in a better position to receive loans from lenders.

The Benefits of Reviewing Your Strategic Plan

There are several benefits to reviewing your strategic plan. For one thing, doing so keeps your company on track or lets you know if a change in direction is worthwhile. It might turn out that the goals you set when you wrote the plan were too lofty and not in line with reality. In that case, you can adjust them so that they are achievable. It might also be the case that you didn’t aim high enough when you wrote your plan and mapped out the moves your company will take over the next few years. If you are exceeding expectations, going back and reviewing your plan can allow you to see how you can adapt it to best suit your company’s needs today.

When’s the last time you took a look at your company’s strategic plan? If it’s been a while, contact New Direction Capital for a review and assessment of your plan today.

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5 Resolutions to Help Grow Your BusinessAs the new year gets underway, it’s hard not to think about ways you can improve. While plenty of people make personal resolutions to lose weight, save more money or pay off debt, it’s not unheard of for companies to make resolutions, too. If your goal is to grow your business in 2016, here are a few resolutions that can help you achieve that growth.

Resolve to Put Together a Strategic Plan

Ideally, your company will have a concrete plan for growth already in place. If not, 2016 is the perfect time for putting one together. If you don’t have a plan or strategy, there is no way to know how to take the next step or even what those next steps should be. With a strategic plan, you not only lay out your company’s plans for the future, you also put together a roadmap for how it will achieve those plans. Your company’s strategic plan allows you to prioritize any goals for your business as well as correct any areas that have been an issue. With a plan in place, your business will stay on course and able to avoid any distractions or disruptions that will prevent its growth.

Develop More Personal Relationships with Customers

Running a successful business is about more than just making the sale. It’s also about establishing long-term relationships with your customers. Tailored marketing is the wave of the future, especially as email and social media marketing become more and more commonplace. It’s not just about making sure the mailing software you use puts a customer’s first name in the message anymore. It’s also about making sure the messages you send clients and customers are actually messages they want or need to receive. Look back on the products or services specific customers have purchased from you in the past, then tailor any new messages to them based on that information.

Giving your customers more ways to get in touch with your company can also help you build deeper relationships with them. Instead of a phone-based customer service line, which requires customers to move though a number a menus or push a lot of buttons before they reach a human, consider also offering customer service chat on your website, which allows a customer to communicate with someone from your company quickly and easily.

Help Your Employees Be Their Best

Hiring the right employees from the start is key to your business’ ongoing growth and development. Keeping those employees happy is also key to your company’s success. This new year, resolve to offer more employee perks or growth programs. They don’t have to be expensive programs. For example, committing to stocking the company break room with healthier snacks or encouraging people to actually take the day off when they are sick can have a positive effect on morale and increase productivity.

Streamline Company Communications

Email might not be going anywhere anytime soon, but it can be a very inefficient way to communicate with your team. Just think of all the reply-all emails you’ve received that simply say things such as “Ok” or “Thanks, will do!” They clutter up your inbox and can keep you from seeing the emails that are actually relevant. If communication is flagging at your company and keeping it from reaching the next stage of growth, it might be time to try something new, such as Slack or Facebook at Work.

Reassess Your Equipment

Is your company’s equipment still meeting your needs? If the copier breaks down on a regular basis or people’s laptops no longer connect to the Internet as quickly as they once did, it might be time to invest in new equipment. It’s difficult to move to the next phase of growth if your company’s gear keeps breaking down.

Making new year’s resolutions is the easy part. It’s sticking to them that’s a challenge. If you’ve got plenty of resolutions, but need help accomplishing them, the team at New Direction Capital is there for you. Our virtual chief financial officer services can help your company achieve the next phase of growth. Contact us today for more details.

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Apply Highest and Best Use Concept to Running Your Business

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In some cases, terms that are commonly used in one industry, such as real estate, can also apply to other industries and fields, with a small amount of tweaking. One such term is “highest and best use.” Commonly used in real estate to determine how to use land, applying the concept of highest and best use to your business can also help it to grow or to help it develop a strategic plan.

What is Highest and Best Use?

In real estate, highest and best use is a principle used when a parcel of land is being zoned and/or appraised. The value of land is closely tied to how an owner uses it. For example, if the owner of a plot of land in the business district of a big city decides to build an office tower on the land, that is generally a better use of it than if the owner decided to build a shopping center on the land. Setting up a farm on a plot of land in a rural area is generally a better use of that land than creating a parking lot, especially if the area is sparsely populated.

The location of the land isn’t the only factor that comes into play when determining highest and best use. Competition and timing also play a part, as does the physical limits of the land itself, legal barriers and and finances. If a lot of other companies are constructing office buildings in the same area, at the same time, deciding to build your own office tower might not be the highest or best use of that land.

How it Can Help Your Business

The principle of highest and best use doesn’t have to be restricted to the area of real estate. You can also apply a similar concept when making decisions for your company. The principle works when deciding how to spend your time, whether to make a hire or to outsource a certain role or task, or whether to keep a product or discontinue it.

Let’s look at the principle of highest and best use when it comes to your time, either as the CEO, president or owner of your business. You want to find ways to spend your time that create the greatest return on investment for your company and that help your company become as valuable as possible. But, if you are spending your days making sure that your employees are completing their assignments or tasks, you’re most likely not making the highest and best use of your time as a CEO. Instead, it might be in your company’s best interest for you to spend your time laying the groundwork for the business’ next step or figuring out how to move the company forward.

Deciding to hire a new employee or to outsource certain tasks to a virtual CFO can help you make the highest and best use of your time as the CEO. But, the principle also comes into play when deciding to outsource or hire someone.

Outsourcing certain roles lets your current employees make the best use of their time, especially if the position you are outsourcing involves tasks or assignments that only need to be performed sporadically. Instead of having your administrative assistant try to solve any IT problems that arise, outsourcing those tasks to a vendor can be the best solution for all involved. The same is true when it comes to your company’s financial records. If you have been handling them, hiring a part-time bookkeeper or working with a virtual CFO allows you to make the highest and best use of your time and energy, and the highest and best use of that person’s talent and time.

The team at New Direction Capital wants to help your business grow and succeed. To learn more about what you can do to make the highest and best use of your company and of your time, give us a call today.

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