Understanding where your business has been (your past), is currently positioned (today), and is headed is critical information for planning.

We think business planning is like a road trip. To make it to your final destination you have to know where you are, where you are headed, and where you’ve been.

There are other expert sources you can find for measuring and monitoring financial performance.

For certain, you should be examining your performance vs. previous years and compared to your budget. You should be comparing how you’re operating versus your competition. And, broader, compared to your overall industry.

Beyond Financials

Think beyond sales, traffic, transactions, margin, and profit.

Other measures of your store’s health include…

Reputation – What’s your reputation in the community? Quality product? High or low price? Do people think you take care of your employees?

Satisfaction Scores & Reviews – What are your customer service scores? What are people saying in your online reviews?

Credibility – Are you considered a credible source of what you offer? Some would question the authenticity of the food at a Chinese restaurant if it wasn’t run by Chinese chefs and operators. The same applies to high-end stereo stores not run by audiophiles.

Capability & Capacity

Capability – Do you have the skills, tools or knowledge needed to get where you want to go?

Capacity – Do you have the people power or investment required to do what you want and need to do?

These are two critical questions that can make or break your success. Understanding that you want or need to launch a new product or implement a new service policy is important, but more important is the ability to successfully implement that want or need.

You will not get anywhere if you launch a sailboat before the mast and sails have been attached.

Include updates and upgrades to your capability and capacity when you plan – these will be the engine to power your efforts.

Know Your Neighborhood

Your business is not just what takes place within your doors, but around and outside your location as well. It is important to know the context (of your neighborhood, city, and region) where you operate.

What are the local needs, concerns, events? What is the local business district planning? What is the town council thinking about?

Use our Trade Area Assessment tool to help you know your neighborhood.

Without a strong understanding of where you are, where you want to go, and your capabilities, you will not set yourself up for greatest success.

Trade Area Assessment Tool

Download the Trade Area Assessment, a fully editable Word doc with questions – and spaces for your answers – to best understand your trade area and neighborhood.