then transformed into performance

I was asked recently what the purpose of business plans even though they received all their funding from family members and friends. To me, it seemed that they were thinking of business planning as a way to raise funds. Business plans are much more than just a way to raise funds. They can also be used as a guide for how to develop your business. You can use it as a tool to track progress, hold yourself responsible and determine the fate of your business. It's also a great recruitment and sales tool that could be used to court important employees or potential shareholders.

 Your business plan requires you to examine everything at once: your value proposition and marketing theories, your operations plan and financial plans, your the staffing plan, as well as your marketing theories. You'll see connections that you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. For example If your marketing plan predicts 10,000 customers by year two and your staffing plan includes two salespeople, it forces you to ask how two salespeople can generate 10,000 customers? Your best strategy might be to create partnerships, focus on distributors, and focus on big-scale sales to big businesses.

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 As part of your operation plan, you will define the most important operational and marketing milestones. You are the founder and the only one responsible for ensuring that you achieve those goals every day. Therefore, your plan becomes a baseline for monitoring your progress. Then you can inquire as to why your prototype was not completed by February 1st. Did you experience an unanticipated breakthrough? Did someone put in a massive effort? Did you underestimate? These lessons will help you do a better next job.

 Plan isn't only a tool for learning after-the-fact, it's also a way to plan to the future. When you make a plan, "We expect 100 customers at the end of the year one,"" it's not just a passive prediction-you don't just sit and wait for customers to show up. This becomes the objective for your sales team. It outlines targets in all areas that include the areas of sales and expenses, positions for hiring and financial objectives. After the plan is laid out, the targets are then transformed into performance goals.

 A well-written plan will attract the best talent. If you're approached by a potential customer to describe your company, you can give a thorough outline. How they respond will reveal a lot about how fast and thorough they are able to think through the company's most important problems. An outline of your goals, coupled with a proven track record of meeting those goals sends a strong message: You know your business is capable of delivering the results you have promised. Great employees will respond to that message-as will banks and investors when you next require funding.

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 The plan you create isn't just a tool for fund-raising. You will use your plan for everything: managing your own business, managing yourself and recruiting. Don't put off planning. Think about the implications and the significance for the future of your business.