Article written by Graham Fitzpatrick, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre.

If you have completed your business plan for the new financial year, I have a couple of questions for you. What is the goal of your business for the next 12 months and what is your course of action to achieve this goal?

If you do not have a clear answer to both of these questions, then you may need to revisit your business plans. A business plan should not be a one-off thing you do each year that is done because as business owner, there is an expectation to do so. It should not be something that you do at the start of financial year that is not looked at again until you do the next plan because you read something that said every business should have a business plan. It is an important guide or road map for your business success for the next 12 months.

A good business plan should clearly describe the business you are in and what you are selling. It should show how you are going to make money. It Identifies key resources, activities and personnel that are essential to achieving your goals. While taking into account the needs of your target audience, the size of your marketplace and what your competitors are doing or not doing.

A key feature of your business plan is your SWOT analysis. This is where you look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your business plan based on the objective of goal that you have set. A good SWOT analysis is a perfect tool to test the viability of your products or service. If you have a long list of weaknesses or threats, then maybe your idea is not a viable as you first thought.

As a marketer, I like to look at the Weaknesses and Threats that are identified in the SWOT analysis and find ways to turn them into Strengths and Opportunities. Sometimes your competitors will have similar Weaknesses, so by tweaking something, or doing things a little different, it could become an important edge in capturing market share.

Once you have completed your plan you should have it open when you regularly look at your financial performance to make sure you are on track and tweak your business plan as you go to achieve success.