Starting a small business requires extensive planning and research. But just because things are up and running doesn’t mean your days as a strategist are done. In fact, they are just beginning.

Planning is an ongoing necessity because the environment in which your small business operates continually changes. New opportunities and challenges will arise that are different than those assessed during the startup stage. Your initial financial projections may be literally and figuratively on the money — or trending in a different and unexpected direction.

L-A SCORE chapter chairman and counselor Jack Tetreault advises the following planning tips to keep your small business on track for long-term growth:

• Revisit your business plan. Your business plan shouldn’t become a “trophy” of your startup success. Refer to it every quarter or every six months to match estimates with current realities. Update your plan as needed with new or modified contingencies, and adjust time frames for key milestones such as expansions or new product and service lines.

• Watch your industry. With today’s interconnected global economy, you must stay current with world and community events. Watch for shifts in demand, study your sales records and communicate with customers, suppliers and colleagues.

• Develop relationships. Perhaps a more cost-effective option than additional investment to create growth might be in building partnerships with other businesses in your field — or using specialty consultants — to help stretch your capabilities.

• Invest in your staff. Because a growing business will demand more of your time, identify employees who can take on both routine and management responsibilities. They will relish the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and you will be free to focus on more important issues.

To learn more about starting and operating your small business, contact SCORE, a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential counseling and training workshops. In the Lewiston-Auburn area, call L-A SCORE at 782-3708 for additional information and an appointment; in Rumford-Mexico call 364-3123; in Oxford Hills call 743-0499. You may also contact SCORE at www.SCOREMaine.org.


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