When you’re running a business, you’re only as good as your planning. It’s true that your ability to react quickly to changes, to challenges and to opportunities is important, and success and failure could hinge on your fast and inventive reactions, but it’s also true that these split second changes in fortune are rare, and the day to day wise and considered running of your business will stand you in better stead.

Today we’re looking at some of the key ingredients that go into good planning for your business, so you can face the future with confidence.

Market Research

You need as complete as possible an understanding of the market you’re selling to if you’re going to make plans for your future. If you don’t strive to gain this understanding, your plans are little more than guesses, and you’re liable to find some unwelcome surprises in store for the future.

Working with a market research firm to get you the consumer intelligence you need to understand the people you’re selling to is one of the worthwhile investments you can make as a business owner: the only valuable decision making is informed decision making, and for informed decisions you need…information.

Targets and Metrics

As well as understanding what the market’s going to do next with market research, you need to know just what your own business is capable of.

You need to make sure you’re baking in processes from the beginning to measure output, capacity, inventory and whatever other key variables there are for your business: online retail is going to have a very different profile to a hairdressers, and both will be qualitatively different again from a marketing agency, so make sure you you’re sticking with the specifics of your business. Measure what matters, so you know before you commit to something that you can be certain of delivering it.

Unless you make this part of your business’ philosophy from the start you’re going to have a difficult time getting an accurate picture of just what you’re capable of. It can be difficult culturally to switch from lax reporting practices to comprehensive ones, as people are not used to it, and what is in reality a reasonable position can look and feel intrusive. Instead, make sure everyone’s comfortable with your reporting needs from early on, and data gathering won’t be jarring, it’ll be a barely remarked on fact of life!