The term “business plan” gets a lot of use, particularly around the planning and start-up phase of a company. It is often viewed as part of the start-up process, used to secure financing, but then gets put in a drawer once the business is operating. To us, the initial business plan is important, but it generally involves a lot of guesswork for a new business. Pricing, start-up costs, equipment, location, budgeting, and cash flow are all important factors, especially for partners and lenders. There can be much learned from revising this plan annually, giving the business owner the opportunity to look backward and then forward. For a busy practicing clinician who is also in charge of operating their business, the annual plan might get pushed aside especially when the clinic is busy and time is viewed as being better spent elsewhere.
We see the annual business plan as a guiding light for your business so in this blog we will review how to effectively write an annual business plan.
What is an annual business plan?
What we call an annual business plan is also referred to as an operational plan. You can use either name, but the key to these are that they look at the next year of business and they contain your company’s business objectives for the year while also considering your financial, physical and human resources.
Try to separate this from a budget. Your budget will be created after the annual plan.
The goal with the annual business plan is to build upon last year and develop a roadmap for the coming year.
Components of an annual business plan
Since you likely aren’t submitting this one to any external parties, look to keep this simple with a Word document using a few columns and rows. Using PowerPoint with bullet points is a great way to separate ideas.
Goals and objectives are the most important part of the plan, and how to meet those goals will be the most challenging part. You need to lay out at least three, but no more than nine business goals for the year. Here are some other components that should go into your plan:
- Executive Summary. Although we want this listed first, this is quite simply a summary of your plan and so should be completed last!
- Performance. This is a review of last year’s performance, which is the perfect starting point to plan to improve in the coming year. This obviously includes financial performance, but try to get outside the financials and into other measurable metrics, like how many new hearing evaluations were completed, how many community events did the business attend, was the physician marketing program effective?
- The Market. If you have never completed a SWOT analysis, here is a good place to introduce one as part of your plan. Analyzing the market you are in would largely complete the Opportunities and Threats portion of the SWOT analysis. This is very relevant for our fast-changing industry!
- Goals. Much like with performance, this will obviously include financial goals (e.g., grow revenue by 15%), but for a small business, we would encourage more thoughtfulness toward other metrics and ideas (e.g., expand availability of educational handouts for clients, family, and physicians OR add new service (I.e., cerumen management) to list of clinic services). Keep the number of goals under 10 to ensure that you have a chance to work on each over the coming year!
- Meeting Goals. Once goals are established, how will you meet them? This will include assigning responsibility to the right people, review of resources, estimating costs, and establishing a way to monitor whether goals are being met. This will likely be the most time-consuming part of your plan!
- Team. We hope that you are checking in more than once per year with your team (and yourself!), but here are a few points which require annual review. Was the team able to meet the needs of the clinic and clients in the previous year? What about next year with the new goals? Are there opportunities for growth / advancement for existing staff? Can you now afford to spend more time working on the business instead of in the business? Align your clinic goals with the compensation of your staff wherever possible so that they are motivated to see the new plan come to life!
Tip for you hearing clinic business plan
- Stick to SMART goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
- Less is more! Equally as unhelpful as not having a plan is having one with too many ideas for a calendar year. This can overwhelm your staff, especially if they are not used to or comfortable with a lot of change. Stick with a few goals that will make the biggest impact.
- Arrange check-in times for you to review your plan (monthly) and for you to check-in with your staff on the new plan objectives (quarterly).
Need a hand with your annual plan? We offer hourly consulting services for independent clinic owners to help take your practice to the next level.
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