Your business plan is probably one of the most important documents you will create for your company. It is valuable because it is not just a few pages that you keep in a forgotten binder on a shelf. Rather, it is a dynamic, ever-evolving strategy that will serve as a resource while you build your business. I would advise working with your business plan on a regular basis as you update your one-, five- and 10-year goals and projections.

Whenever you pause to lay out strategy for the upcoming fiscal year, refer to the mission and vision statements you have created and measure your progress. Ask yourself what changes you need to make to achieve your desired revenue or break into a new client market.

In past posts, I have discussed the business plan and its components on a broader level. I want to delve deeper into one of the facets of this document – operational strategies. This portion of the plan will hinge on the strength of your stated values. For every value, write a sentence explaining how you will implement it.

These sentences will comprise your operating principles, which will then serve as guidance not only for you, but also your employees and strategic business partners. They will help your team members devise their own solutions in a variety of situations, instead of waiting for your directions (similar to the theory of commander’s intent, which you can read more about here).

I discussed in-depth operating principles in The Entrepreneurial Journey, noting then that they serve as a structure for you to refer to when you face decisions that contain conflicting motivations and priorities. Is client service one of your values? Then you can act upon that by making it a policy to check in with every client on a biweekly basis. If teamwork is a focal point for your organization, requiring weekly meetings with everyone on the team can help keep them abreast of the issues facing the company while also fostering closer working relationships.

Pay attention to how your business expands and changes over the years. Are you facing new challenges that were not an issue when you first opened your doors? Have your operating principles failed to address recent unique situations? While your values should not be seen as malleable – after all, they are meant to be hard and fast rules – it is certainly acceptable to update operating principles to better equip your team members.