It’s a tool for understanding how your business is put together. You can use it to monitor progress, hold yourself accountable and control the business’s fate. And of course, it’s a sales and recruiting tool for courting key employees or future investors.
Writing out your business plan forces you to review everything at once: your value proposition, marketing assumptions, operations plan, financial plan and staffing plan. You’ll end up spotting connections you otherwise would have missed.
The answer might lead you to conclude that forming partnerships, targeting distributors and concentrating on bulk sales to large companies would be your best tactics.
As part of your operational plan, you’ll lay out major marketing and operational milestones. When you’re the founder, the only person holding you accountable to those results on a daily basis is you. So your plan becomes a baseline for monitoring your progress. If your prototype was to be complete by February 1, and it gets done early-on January 10, for example-you can ask yourself why. Was there an unexpected breakthrough? Did someone put in a heroic effort? Or did you just overestimate? What you learn will help you do an even better job next time.
And of course, a well-written plan is great for attracting talent. When a prospect asks to understand your business, you can hand them a plan that gives them an entire overview. Their reactions tell you something about how quickly and thoroughly they can think through your business’s key issues. Plus, the written record of your goals coupled with a track record of delivering against those goals sends a message loud and clear: You understand your business and can deliver the results you promise. Great employees will respond to that message-as will banks and investors the next time you need to raise money.
So viewing your plan as a fund-raising tool is just the beginning of the story. You’ll use the plan for so much more-for managing yourself, for operating the business and for recruiting. Before deciding to skip your planning phase, consider all the implications and what they mean for your future success.