The Power of a Plan

By Sunny Adams, CPA, and A’Shira Nelson, CPA, Crain's

As accountants and business advisors, Apple Growth Partners is committed to the healthy growth of businesses, including tailored support and services for Black and minority business owners. For businesses to grow, owners must remain focused on the company’s vision and goals while developing a thorough business strategy.

Why should business owners invest time in planning?

Crafting a long-term business plan enables a company to outline its vision, mission and goals while staying on track for growth. Think of business planning as a GPS with which to navigate the early stages of growth through maturity. While creating the plan may seem cumbersome at first, the time investment forces business owners to research and fully understand the market, competition and customer base. Business planning helps owners step back and think objectively about the big picture and key elements of the business – establishing milestones, identifying potential weaknesses and discovering previously unstated assumptions. 

Business planning should occur throughout the lifecycle of the company. From start-up to succession, planning is meant to create a clear path and guide for action.

What should the business consider during planning?

As a starting point, business owners should consider:

  • Sales: Accurately forecasting the business’s sales and crafting a sales plan accordingly can help owners avoid unforeseen cash flow issues. A sales plan can also help manage production and staffing needs to forecast financial results.
  • Human capital: By utilizing staffing predictions, companies should create succession plans to ensure a stacked bench of readily available employees, including those in management roles. 
  • Market conditions: It’s important to anticipate and react to consumer trends, the impact of technology on the company’s space, competition analysis, economic conditions and legislative developments. These considerations can be discussed with the business’s advisory partners. 
  • Taxes: Tax planning should occur annually, not only when changes are made to tax laws or government administration. Tax planning should be completed before or at the beginning of the tax year. 

Planning is meant to set a clear path for action but it can also lead to inaction if business owners allow themselves to become bogged down by the details. Remain focused on the most important elements and begin with the company’s goals, as defined by the vision and mission statements. 

The scope of business planning should be shared with a business owner’s trusted third-party associates, including the accounting team. Business advisors can help identify gaps in forecasting and provide financial models for corporate structure and tax preparation. Failure to include an accounting professional in the planning phase could result in unplanned expenses or missed savings opportunities. 

How IMPACT can help minority business owners

In 2020, Apple Growth Partners debuted IMPACT – Increase Minority Professionals’ Awareness and Create Traction for Change – a focused service for Black and minority business owners. AGP’s IMPACT team can help minority business owners develop or review strategic business plans and identify opportunities for financial savings or help prepare for upcoming expenses.