Business Planning Checklist

I recently found Xero’s business planning checklist for Accountants and Bookkeepers and thought it was worth sharing with our clients. business planning checklist

This 10-step checklist will help you consider the research and planning needed to start, grow and maintain your business. It will keep you aligned with the key parts of your business. It is worth reviewing annually.


A 10-step business planning checklist for all businesses

Growing and maintaining your business is hard work and taking a step back to look at the opportunities and risk within your business is something that many of us overlook. Use this 10-step business planning checklist as your annual reality check.

  1. Review your cashflow

    If you want to grow your business, start by reviewing your cash flow. Work out how much money comes in and goes out. Use the information to plan the year ahead. Your plan should identify how much cash you need to invest in your company’s growth and what you will use it for. For example, hiring employees or buying equipment.

    See how an accounting dashboard can track cash flow on your phone.

  2. Review your day-to-day processes

    Could you and your staff be more efficient in the way you do things? Do your business practices and policies get in the way sometimes? If yes, it might be time to review your day-to-day processes to identify what you can improve.

    There are apps to improve things like inventory management, CRM, invoicing, point of sale and more.

  3. Prepare your team

    Having a team of committed and skilled employees is an essential part of any business, particularly one that plans on expansion. If you want to grow your business, first take a step back. Ask yourself:

    • Do I have the right team?
    • Do my people have the right skills?
    • What can I do to keep staff and help them feel more committed?
    • Do they feel sufficiently rewarded?
    • Have I planned for staff turnover?

    Think about how you can prepare your team for change and company growth.

  4. Know your market competition

    It’s important to be really clear about your place in the market. Take time to look at your market share. Do the same for your main competition. Who are your competitors today and who will they be tomorrow? Carry out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to work out your direction.

  5. Update the content on your website

    Before you attract a new audience to your website or blog, check the content on your site is up-to-date and works for your target audience.

    • Make sure that your website can easily be found online, using search engine optimisation. Use the Google Keyword Planner tool to check you have the right keywords for Google search. For example, if you are selling women’s tennis shirts, include those words on your web pages.
    • Review your social media strategy. Are you using the right networks and tools to increase engagement and traffic to your site?
    • Finally, ask your customers for feedback on your website. You could get them to check content, hyperlinks and the search tool.
  6. Set up new partnerships

    You can’t do everything alone. Think about whether you need to set up partnerships with other companies. Maybe it’s time to invest in or buy another business. Selling online might work well if you already sell offline. Setting up a franchise may be an option.

  7. Bring in external experts

    It’s always good to get a fresh perspective from a trusted outsider. Ask an expert to review your business operations or your marketing strategy. Get someone skilled and knowledgeable who is comfortable giving honest, constructive feedback you can use to improve your business.

  8. Prepare for an economic crisis

    No one likes to think about a downturn. But we all know they happen. Make sure you’re ready. Review your cash flow and identify the liquid assets you have. Set up an emergency fund (if you don’t have one) for when times are lean.

  9. Review your products and services

    Make sure your products and services hit the mark by carrying out market research. Use the results to improve what you offer and to identify the language your customers use to talk about your products and services. Reuse their language in your company communications.

  10. Update your communications plan

    A well-thought-out communications plan will identify the key messages you want to get across to your customers. It will also identify how you want to communicate. Update your plan to ensure it covers all the bases – from purchase confirmation emails to customers who’ve bought your product online through to invitations to exclusive events for VIP customers.

Research, plan, invest and grow

There’s no easy shortcut when it comes to growing and maintaining your business. As you know, it takes hard work and plenty of research, planning and investment. Use this business planning checklist to grow your business and succeed.

Let us remind you to check this list every year

If you let us know, we’ll send you the business planning checklist every year with a reminder to review these items.