A detailed business plan offers small businesses an essential tool for starting a new venture or reimagining an existing one. It can be a compass that points towards success by delivering clarity to all facets of the endeavor. It’s also an excellent way to attract investors. A truly comprehensive business plan considers potential setbacks and how to overcome them.
COVID-19, however, has effectively turned many well-conceived plans upside-down. The once-in-a-generation pandemic upended market forecasts and revenue growth projections in a way no one could have predicted. While a savvy entrepreneur routinely revises a business plan to sync with the times, the pandemic raises new challenges and questions. If you plan to launch a new venture or see value in revising an existing plan, here are some crucial issues to consider.
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How is COVID-19 impacting your target market, suppliers, or other aspects of your business?
If you are like many business owners, the words “economic disruption” define your experience. The mandates that forced non-essential businesses to close brick-and-mortar facilities had a domino effect on your supply chains, customers, and revenue streams, among others. According to reports, upwards of 23% of companies were forced to temporarily close during the pandemic’s first wave. With vaccines approved, the worst appears to be behind us. But business as usual has not widely been restored. Many organizations are still struggling with the following:
- Cash flow shortfalls
- Smaller revenue streams
- Difficulty getting goods and products
- Customers unaware your business is open
- Increased uncertainty about the future
These are, perhaps, unforeseen circumstances that have prompted industry leaders to rethink and revise their business plan going forward. Some of the changes thought leaders are making include diversifying supply chains, extending lines of credit, and minimizing risk in the event of another unforeseen disruption.
Can your business thrive during stay-at-home orders or other COVID-19 restrictions?
The pandemic impacted industries in vastly different ways. Some companies were able to pivot and leverage their remote capabilities quickly. Such organizations were already riding the work-from-anywhere trend that grew by more than 90% in the previous five years. And according to a business survey conducted during the early months of the pandemic, 82% of businesses had already decided to maintain a post-pandemic remote workforce. The question entrepreneurs may want to consider is whether your endeavor could succeed if a new strain causes another disruption. The conventional wisdom points to the following:
- Operational Challenges: Outline how you can best overcome renewed government restrictions and disruption.
- Marketing Strategy: Craft a marketing strategy that can attract customers and clients whether the economy is fully or partially open.
- Remain Flexible: It’s crucial not to create a rigid business plan that cannot deftly pivot in the face of adversity.
The conventional wisdom points to having a contingency plan in place. Before the start of the pandemic, it was not uncommon for corporations in severe weather regions along the Gulf of Mexico to have a business plan and a separate contingency plan. The pandemic has taught us that every organization requires a business contingency plan going forward.
How will your business adapt to the post-pandemic world?
Studies indicate that COVID-19 caused the greatest global upheaval of any event since World War II. If history is a qualified teacher, then business professionals may be wise to adopt lessons from the past. Solutions that succeeded in the post-WWII landscape may prove invaluable for planning purposes. These included the following:
- Prioritize People: A robust recovery depends on supporting retraining efforts needed to bolster human capital. For example, educate employees about technology that can improve productivity and help secure revenue in the event of another disruption.
- Understand Trends and Trajectories: The pandemic highlighted which organizations are particularly vulnerable to disruption. A newly-minted business plan should review potential industry growth and take advantage of short-term opportunities.
- Craft An Adaptive Plan: When the pandemic struck, it made sense to fight immediate business battles. Moving forward as herd immunity is achieved calls for agile business plans that can handle adversity and secure steady revenue streams as they come online.
The rollout of coronavirus vaccinations is expected to restore industries to normalcy at some point. But the “new normal” may look quite different than the pre-pandemic business landscape. How you plan and adapt will have a direct and noticeable impact on goal achievement.
Are your business forecasts and predictions realistic?
It’s essential to do the math and accurately forecast where your industry is heading, even if the future appears unpredictable. Investors will be more inclined to work with organizations with a finger on the pulse and hard numbers to support conclusions.
Your forecasts and predictions should not be updated versions of plans conceived before or outside the framework of the pandemic. Envisioning the world as the vaccine rollout unfolds provides a gritty realism that competitors might be unwilling to embrace. Ask yourself some tough questions before forecasting revenue for the next 12 to 24 months and beyond.
- Will your industry boom, bust, or tread water?
- Are there new customers ready to spend with your organization?
- Will potential revenue streams become increasingly competitive as others in your industry ramp up operations?
- Can you take advantage of the remote workforce trend and reduce capital expenses such as office leases?
Some organizations are trying to navigate the waning period of the pandemic or forecast as if 2020 never happened. That could prove to be a strategic error. Wrap your business plan around the reality of what has happened, industry trends you anticipate as we eventually achieve herd immunity, and the revenue your operation can generate in the coming years.If you have questions or face challenges related to the pandemic, check out the information and resources available at the Rocket Lawyer COVID Legal Center, or consult with a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for quick and affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.