It’s never too late to write your business plan

It may be well into the new year, but the truth is that any time is a good time to get started on your business plan.

Guest author

Cathy Love, Nacre Consulting·

Archery target with arrows

Don’t panic if you’ve missed the typical business planning season’s end of financial year or early in the calendar year. The truth is any time is better than no business plan at all. The business confidence you gain from having your future goals and projects defined is empowering and motivating.

Why is it good to plan ahead? It gives you real life information about what went well during the past year. To get yourself started:

1Identify the hits and misses

What was a hit for your clinic in the last 12 to 18 months? What did you or your practitioners do well, and why? What had the greatest impact on you and your practice?

Then you look at the misses. Maybe a business activity didn’t go to plan, or you had a higher team changeover than anticipated. Reflect and note it down.

Business is a wonderful adventure; it’s a roller coaster. Finding time to look back and reflect on your year and then using that information going forward in the coming year is much more powerful that most realise

2Dissect your business

Looking back on your previous year sooner rather than later means you can not only identify the prominent highlights and weaknesses, but you can explore each part of your business in depth.

For example:

  • Your team. Who’s still with you? Who’s new?
  • The services you’re offering. What’s been popular? What’s been profitable?
  • Or, what about your prices? Do they need reviewing?
  • Profit. Have you had a good look into your profit and loss and your balance sheets? Have you had a look at where you’ve been breakeven on some products or possibly running at a loss on others? And yes, don’t forget the billable hours and the sales figures.
  • Software. Review the systems and software you have in place. How have you been using them? Are they enabling you to move towards what I call ‘business background hum’? Do you have a business that largely runs itself with the right amount of your input and your energy? This is truly possible.

This is all good data to pull up, print out, and reflect on so you can understand the impact your business has had on your life, your employees’ lives, and on the lives of the clients that you serve.

More importantly, it also gives you a solid base for business growth going forward.

3Decide what you want from the year ahead

The next step is to get your thoughts in order in terms of what you want the next year to be. Ask yourself:

  • What do you want your business to look like twelve months from now? Where will you be? Will you be bricks and mortar? Will you be mobile?
  • What will your service delivery model look like? What will your products and pricing look like?
  • How do you know they’re going to be good? What measures, planning, and number crunching do you need to know about all of that good stuff? Who’s under the roof? Who’s on your team? Are you growing? Who is it that you need to be bringing into the team? Perhaps importantly, who do you need to be keeping in the team and what do you, as the business boss, have to do to keep that retention in place?

First you need to think about your clients:

  • Who are your ideal customers? What are their worries? What solutions do you bring to their lives?
  • How will they find you?
  • What is the customer experience you intend for your practice to provide?
  • Do you have interesting marketing collateral that your team are trained and confident with presenting?

Now, think about your marketing:

  • What’s your website going to look like?
  • What are your social media profile and posts going to look like?
  • What are you, as a manager and business owner, going to look like on LinkedIn?
  • How are you going to promote yourself locally? With the advent of telehealth, you’ve got to show up nationally nowadays too, so how are you going to show up both online and offline?
  • Are you toying with the idea of blogging or newsletters or maybe even a podcast?

4Know your growth goals

Based on your previous year’s success, you should know what your business will look like in the numbers department. We know it spans across the financial year, so what is your growth goal? 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, 40%?

You need to have a vision of what success looks like for you and your practice. Perhaps you need to throw some love at your budget so you actually know what your targets need to be in order to reach your big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGS) for revenue and profit right out across the next twelve months.

On a different note, maybe your goal is to get your head under the hood of those numbers and finances in the first place. If you’re not there yet, you are not alone. Building financial habits to work with your financial team and business mentors can boost confidence and knowledge so you better understand and can better manipulate and anticipate the numbers associated with your business.

5Book some time in your calendar

The rear-view mirror is a powerful tool— review, reflection, and historical data are critical for your future direction. Book some time with yourself to dig into all the highlights, lowlights, accounting and practice management reports, and more to really understand what went on.

If numbers isn’t your game, step towards it and embrace it. Boosting your financial understanding is critical.

With great data in hand, get bold and hit the planning button. There are lots of ways to build out your business plan and I hope the questions I have posed have got you thinking.

For more insight into business planning for your practice, listen in to Cathy Love’s podcast on ‘How To Get What You Want From the Year Ahead’

Author information

Guest contributor Cathy Love is the founding director of Nacre Consulting where she coaches allied health business owners to run great practices. She's also an Occupational Therapist, Speaker, Author, and Podcaster.

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