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Most businesses had to pivot during the pandemic to adopt new ways to meet customers' needs and ensure their business continued to thrive. Some of the learning during this time could be applied to your business as you reflect on how to adapt in the post-pandemic environment.

When developing your business plan, it’s key to take a step back and not only evaluate your current environment but also ensure you have the tools and support in place to move forward. These six considerations will assist you as you develop your business plan.

1. Conduct a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. As you think about the year ahead and the current competitive environment, a SWOT analysis can help you understand the unique value your business offers and the risks you may face from competitors in your space. There are different approaches for conducting a SWOT analysis but it doesn’t have to be too formal or complex. Here is an approach for conducting a SWOT analysis of your business.

2. Revisit your business goals

The most successful businesses actively set and adjust their business goals. It’s important to know where you are going and then establish a detailed plan to get there. As you plan how to take your business forward in a post-pandemic environment, now might be a good time to rethink your goals. One approach to consider when developing goals is the SMART model. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Specific goals can help you keep on track to achieving them. You can learn more about SMART goal setting here.

3. Ensure your business can transact with customers both in-person and digitally

It’s never been more important for your business to be online. Even if resources are tight, you can still get started — allocating the time, money and people to do it right will pay off. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get online, turn your website into an e-commerce engine, and drive traffic to both your online and offline locations.

4. Digitize your payments

Customers today expect convenience and speed when transacting with businesses. Offering digital payment methods not only enables you to reach more customers looking to pay with debit or credit, it can also help you get funds into your business faster. Digital payment options may also minimize fraud and make reconciling your accounts faster and easier. Read more about how going cashless can benefit your business.

5. Have a clear picture of your working capital

The ability to manage cash flow is fundamental to your company’s financial health. When you add in a global health crisis — and the fallout that has deeply affected businesses around the world — your command of working capital becomes both critical and considerably more difficult. When it comes to cash flow, you can never over-prepare. Given the uncertain nature of the future, it’s a good idea to map out a few different scenarios. Consider forecasting a best-case scenario, a worst-case, and something in between.

6. Keep in touch with your bank

Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay in touch with your bank. When your business financial specialist understands your business goals and challenges, they’re in a position to help with potentially game-changing ideas and options – whether your business is facing hurdles or opportunities.

Business planning is an evolving process that requires you to revisit your strategy, goals and practices on a regular basis to ensure they are aligned with a changing environment.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.