Your Step-by-Step Business Planning Cycle Guide


Planning is at the heart of every successful business. Without proper planning, companies risk poor management, potential revenue losses and a high staff turnover. So, it’s essential to appoint a qualified team who are well-versed in long or short-term business planning cycle strategies.

Business planning cycles are transformative, driving organisations to refine and upgrade their plans to the highest level. It’s an invaluable method for setting short-term goals such as cutting costs or maximising efficiency.

This type of planning entails long-term projects like product launches or expansions into new markets; and more strategic efforts that require intricate analysis of environmental factors.

But what is it? Let’s explore its meaning further and how to use it to guide your business forward!



What is a business planning cycle?

The business planning cycle is a series of steps that spell out how to successfully carry out any task to accomplish your objectives. The planning cycle has several steps:

  • Establishing goals
  • Setting the premise
  • Alternative evaluation
  • Resource identification
  • Plan formulation and implementation
  • Plan monitoring

You can reduce risks and business downtime by using a detailed planning cycle. Growing your business doesn’t have to be a complicated ongoing process.

The planning cycle effectively ensures success by providing precise and concise steps that help guide the journey.


Planning tips

Why is the business planning cycle important?

Knowing when to adapt your business plans is essential to success. The business planning cycle helps anticipate future projects and triggers better decision-making. Clarifying where your industry is heading empowers you with the insight needed to stay competitive. This positions your company for continuous progresses through a future planning cycle.

The 4-step business planning process

Developing methods to achieve results through strategic planning can enhance organisational efficiency in the long run. This involves determining the desired destination of the organisation, evaluating its current status, and devising strategies to move forward.

Step 1: Preparation

Crafting a strategic plan for a business planning cycle involves four essential sub-steps:

Define vision and mission statements

Defining what needs to be accomplished during the planning period is the first and most critical step in the planning process. The vision and mission statements outline the organisation’s long-term direction and plan to achieve it. During the next phase, establish specific goals that align with the vision and mission. Whenever possible, goals should be quantifiable.

Develop premises

Predicting future changes is crucial for effective planning. As plans are implemented, circumstances are bound to shift. Therefore, managers must anticipate potential alterations in internal and external factors, including rules and regulations, competition and new technology. These predictions serve as the foundation for identifying alternatives in the planning process.

Evaluate alternatives

Managers need to identify feasible alternatives and evaluate their potential for success. In doing so, they should gather feedback from multiple sources to consider a range of perspectives, which can lead to diverse solutions.

Identify resources

Managers must evaluate the company’s resources, determine what new resources are needed, and identify sources for acquiring those resources. As each alternative requires a distinct set of resources, this step should be completed alongside the previous one.

Advanced planning and scheduling can help businesses allocate resources more effectively by analysing capacity, lead times and other factors. Use this information to optimise production schedules and improve resource use. By using TimeTrack Timesheets to monitor the time spent on various stages of the business cycle planning process, companies gain insight into the time and resources required for each stage. This information can be used to adjust the iterative process to improve efficiency and effectiveness.


TimeTrack Timesheet

Step 2: Plan

Create a comprehensive roadmap that outlines specific initiatives and tasks at various organisational levels to help achieve the desired goal. This action plan effectively maps out task completion sequences and interconnectivity.

By carefully constructing this guide, companies can successfully work towards their future objectives. Review the plan’s impact and decide whether to proceed before investing money and valuable time. If a particular financial plan is producing poor results, abandon it and move on to another. Various techniques can be used to determine the impact of the strategy, depending on the situation.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

  • You can weigh all the costs against the anticipated monetary gains.

Force Field Analysis

  • This will give you a thorough analysis of the arguments for and against your idea on a broad scale.

Matrix Analysis

  • Businesses can analyse and contrast options objectively using the decision matrix analysis and make informed judgements based on facts.

Step 3: Implement

The implementation stage entails carrying out the plan and applying the tactics mentioned in the earlier sections. The following actions often occur during the implementation phase:

Resource allocation

  • The projects and initiatives included in the plan are given different resources, including personnel, cash and equipment.

Task assignment

  • Tasks are delegated to specific people or teams in charge of completing them. To guarantee responsibility and track progress, create clear roles and deadlines.


  • The strategy is implemented following the predetermined budget and timetable. For quicker execution, teams should collaborate to achieve their objectives.


  • Progress is recorded and monitored to ensure the strategy is carried out as intended. The strategy is modified to keep it on course and in line with evolving company requirements.

 Step 4: Review/Revise

Keep your organisation on the path to success by continuously revisiting, assessing and reinventing its plan. Assess performance, review goals and outcomes, and revise when necessary. This will ensure the strategy is up-to-date and tailored to meet specific needs. This adaptive approach allows for progress tracking and the evolution of key objectives, keeping it vibrant in a fast-moving world.


The annual business planning cycle

An annual business plan is a roadmap for a company and its employees. It includes benchmarks that advance the plan through smaller objectives that result in a comprehensive picture of where the company wants to be by the end of the year.

Many people establish goals and objectives for the upcoming year. They reflect on the preceding year and think about what went well and what they want to change.

Then they create a strategy for the objectives they wish to accomplish, such as paying off debt, getting in shape, or learning a new language. Similarly, a firm will utilise an annual business plan to make cuts, boost efficiency, and accomplish particular objectives during the upcoming year.

  1. Stated goals (SMART): An enduring standard of the corporate world, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) assist in idea clarification, effort focus, ensuring that time and resources are used effectively, and upping your chances of success.
  2. Budget and cost controls: An annual plan includes forecasts for the upcoming year. Your estimates will help identify funding requirements, planning for cashflow lulls, and selecting the ideal project timeline. Take note of how wasted project time, lack of resources, meetings, excessive coffee and tea breaks and chit-chat sessions cost your company. All companies should consider time on task when formulating cost controls.
  3. Timelines and checkpoints: Break your broader goals into more manageable chunks with deadlines if you want your business to be where you want it in a year. Measure your success in accomplishing your goals when you set your deadlines.
  4. Clearly outlined expectations and responsibilities: An annual business plan is effective if it has aspirational but attainable goals. For example, if you need to tighten up on employee attendance, you may think about investing in TimeTrack Attendance Tracking tool.
  5. Contingency plans: What happens if your business’s cash flow statement is beset with problems? An emergency cash reserve is a good idea. Good back-up plans include keeping cash on hand or having an available line of credit.
Attendance Tracking Working Hours Model

TimeTrack Attendance Tracking


Every successful organisation has a business plan for success. The business planning cycle is the key to streamlining this process. It allows you to identify potential threats and modify strategies accordingly to reap bigger benefits.

Proper planning minimises business downtime and investment risks, and is ultimately a blueprint for long-term success.