Create a Profit Plan for Your Small Business

A profit plan is an essential tool for any entrepreneur or small business owner striving for financial success. It serves as a road map to guide your business towards profitability by outlining what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it.

This guide will walk you through the basic steps of creating a profit plan for your small business, giving you the tools and strategies to secure your financial future. Remember, your accountant is an incredibly important resource for your business and can provide invaluable help with this.

Why Profit Planning Matters

A profit plan is more than just a fancy spreadsheet. It’s a dynamic document that serves several crucial purposes:

  • Sets Financial Goals: Having clear profit targets keeps you focused and motivated.
  • Breaks down your goals into measurable targets: Set monthly or quarterly revenue targets and profit margins. If you miss a target you know to improve for the next one.
  • Consider both short-term and long-term goals: To allow you to pinpoint and fine tune your business’s financial health.
  • Identifies Strengths and Weaknesses: By really looking at your income and expenses, you can pinpoint areas for improvement.
  • Tracks Progress: Regularly monitoring your plan allows you to adjust course as needed and to spot trends as they appear.

A profit plan lets you see where you are now and work out where you want to be next.

Steps to Creating a Profit Plan

Building a solid profit plan involves a few key steps:

  1. Assess Your Current Financial Situation:
    • Gather your income statements and expense reports.
    • Calculate your current profit margin (revenue minus expenses divided by revenue).
    • Identify and prioritise the various sources of revenue for your business. For example: of the four revenue streams your business has – maybe one of them is costing almost as much as the profit it brings in.
    • Identify your biggest expense categories.
  2. Estimate Future Profits:
    • Consider historical sales data and market trends.
    • Factor in seasonal fluctuations and potential marketing campaigns.
    • Be realistic but optimistic in your projections.
    • Use this information to set a realistic target.
  3. Forecast Revenue and Expenses:
    • Forecast your sales for a specific period (e.g., quarter, year).
    • Evaluate your current and past revenue streams and expense categories to understand where your business stands financially. In other words – where are your profits coming from?
    • List all anticipated expenses, including fixed costs (rent, salaries) and variable costs (inventory, marketing). As well as “one off” expenses.
    • Use industry benchmarks to guide your expense estimates and to identify areas where you can reduce costs without sacrificing quality or efficiency.. In other words – are you paying more than you need to or paying for things your competitors don’t bother with?
  4. Set Financial Goals:
    • Determine your desired profit margin. This is not an estimate of your expected future profits – but what profits you want to aim for. Again, be realistic but optimistic.
    • Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for profitability.
    • Remember that profitability depends on maximising income coming in while minimising costs going out. (Keeping in mind that “you have to spend money to make money”).
  5. Set Pricing Strategies:
    • Evaluate your pricing strategy to ensure it aligns with your profit goals and market demand.
    • Consider factors such as competitor pricing, value proposition, and customer willingness to pay.
    • Experiment with pricing models, discounts, or bundling strategies to maximise revenue while maintaining profitability.
  1. Create Strategies to Achieve Goals:
    • Identify ways to increase revenue (e.g., new products, marketing initiatives).
    • Explore cost-cutting measures (e.g., renegotiate supplier contracts, streamline operations).
    • Based on your financial goals and analysis, develop real strategies to increase revenue and optimise expenses.
    • Plan around what you can do – not what you want.
  2. Monitor and Adapt:
    • Regularly track your progress against your plan.
    • The whole point of having a profit plan is to allow you to see what works and what doesn’t as quickly as possible and then act on those insights.
    • Regularly monitor your progress against the strategies you adopt and adjust your plan as needed to stay on track. Be prepared to adjust your strategies based on real-time data.

Additional Tips for Profit Planning Success

  • Use Financial Planning Software: Consider spreadsheet programs or accounting software to automate calculations and create visuals. Pie charts and graphs really do help you to visualise what is going on.
  • Develop Different Scenarios: Plan for optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely outcomes to be prepared for any situation.
  • Seek Professional Help: Even if you are comfortable with financial planning, consult an accountant or financial adviser.

By following these steps and continuously refining your approach, your profit plan will become a powerful tool for steering your small business towards long-term financial success. Remember, a profit plan is not set in stone – it’s a dynamic tool that should evolve with your business and the external business environment. Stay agile, stay focused, and watch your business thrive!

If you would like some advice on all of this, please call us on 1300 268 800