Do you have a 2019 IT business plan?
Can you believe that it’s almost 2019? As we finish up the last quarter of 2018, most business owners take the chance to review how the year went for their businesses.
Some businesses will be capping the year on a high note. And some will be scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. Regardless of what category you fall into, I challenge you, Mr. and Ms. Business Owner, to look further ahead and determine what you want to accomplish in 2019 and beyond.
A successful 2019 starts with a solid business plan. When developing your strategy, I want to encourage you to think about your technology.
Every business needs technology.
Even if your company does something old school, like manufacturing pizza boxes, you’ll rely on technology to handle most routine business operations – from maintaining records and processing orders to staying in contact with suppliers and customers.
Since technology is so central to running a business today, you need to plan: What technology will you use? How will you assimilate it into your current workflow?
So, how do you write an IT business plan?
You can start here. Today, I’m going to share with you 5 technology-based business plan secrets:
1. Perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis for your small business.
Take a moment to think about your business strengths and make a list of your top ones. They might be related to customer service, pricing, quality, etc.
Then, repeat the process but for your business’s weakness. A weakness might be low client acquisition, an inefficient distribution network, or low overall company productivity.
Now, it’s time to think about your business’s opportunities in 2019. Look at your target market and think of ways that your business could serve it. These opportunities might include new partnerships, joining a chamber of commerce, or attending a trade show.
Lastly, make a list of threats against your business. These might come from your competition or from external sources such as natural disasters or overseas hackers. For example, let’s say you manufacture cups for the Mid-Atlantic region, and a competitor opens a new headquarters in your region. That competitor is now an economic threat.
2. Align a technology strategy with your SWOT analysis.
It is impossible to move forward if your technology is two steps behind you. Based on a thorough review of your SWOT analysis, you will be able to identify your business goals for the coming year. The next step is to develop a technology strategy that will help you accomplish these goals.
For example, at the beginning of your business journey, you probably wore many hats, including handling accounting tasks. But after a couple years of business, you wanted to improve the efficiency of your accounting process. So you decided to include in your business plan a goal of implementing more efficient accounting software and an employee.
A technology strategy can also be more external-facing if your business plan is more customer-focused.
For example, you may need to acquire the needed equipment and services to get on par with your competitors. If you run a restaurant, and all your competitors have online reservation options, you might want to acquire that technology yourself to attract more customers.
3. Conduct a technology inventory for your small business.
It’s hard to make an IT business plan if you don’t know what you currently have.
Make a list of all the technology components that your small business currently uses. Then, make note of whether you own or lease the item. Also, make sure you list how old the item is and whether or not it is under warranty.
4. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis.
Before you make a purchasing decision for 2019, you should conduct a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) on technology-based equipment and services. The goal of a CBA is to determine the payback or break-even point of any investment over a period of time.
To run a CBA on your technology, draft a list of all the technology, and list the upfront and operation annual costs of each tech item. This should be pretty easy to execute if you have already completed secret number 2.
Next, assign a realistic cost estimate to figure out the annual beneficial value. Some tech-based equipment, like servers, may take longer to reach a payback.
The point of CBA is to see if any technology is causing you pain points. For example, it may be more expensive to keep an old server alive than it is to just buy a new one.
5. Don’t just plan for 2019.
Plan for 2020, not just 2019. Long-term thinking is the key to achieving enormous results. If your vision is too small and your goals too short-term, you won’t tap into the extraordinary power of long-term thinking.
Most people don’t have long-term goals. They’re entirely focused on the present, or perhaps the short-term, future.
Some of the best fuel for long-term success is your mind’s limitless drive to move forward. So, don’t plan for just 2019, plan for 2020, 2030, 2040.
What will your business look like then? What will you have accomplished?
If you feel like your 2019 IT business plan is still unreachable, it’s time to ask for help.