A well-crafted business plan is more than a one-time product. It's your chance to step back, examine and organize your thinking about the business, and make sure you're charting a successful course for the future. By keeping the plan up-to-date going forward, you can revisit all the issues and decide whether or not you're on track. And the plan is more than just a big-picture exercise. It's a plan, and treating it as such will help chart your future course. Your plan includes headcount numbers, expenses, sales growth and so on. Revisit those forecasts. Are you deviating from your expectations? If so, you can act now, rather than being blindsided by a sudden cash crunch. With advance warning, you can start cutting expenses, looking for better marketing tactics, revamping your sales strategy or exploring ways to make your cash last. A current plan can also be a good training tool. You can give copies to new employees to help them understand how the company is put together and what expectations you have regarding its growth. Keep the plan current, and you'll get the most from it by turning it into a document that helps run--rather than simply sell--your business.

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