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Starting a business is a dream for millions of people. The right amount of drive and passion for what you do will help any new venture get to its feet. Unfortunately, that’s not always enough to keep things moving forward. A successful business needs a plan, and the best time to write a business plan is during formation.

Everything from data metrics to personality-driven summaries of your goals will be at home in an effective business plan. These are a few of the most important documents to include and considerations to take as get started.

Make your plan work for you

The beauty of a business plan is that it can take many forms depending on what you want to accomplish. There isn’t a default set of documents you have to include, but a few things you may want handy are:

  • Market analysis, how will your business fit into the markets you’re targeting?
  • Management structure, will there be a hierarchy among your staff?
  • Company and service description, a clear explanation of who you are and what you offer.
  • 3 to 5-year budget, how much will your venture cost during its initial years?
  • Finance projections, how do you expect cash flow to go?

Depending on what elements you pursue, your business plan could be designed to entice investors, be an effective mission statement to keep you and your staff on track or a driving force for yourself.

A strategy will empower your marketing

Virtually all business plans will include a sound marketing plan. Marketing plans will not only show investors that you are serious about your venture, but also provide you with a road map of objectives to pursue. Your marketing objectives may include:

  • Introduce a new product
  • Expand to a new market
  • Incorporate a new form of advertisement
  • Refine a product based on metrics

Each objective is likely to have its own set of milestones and goals on its way to completion. Be specific when you plan; doing the research and leg work now can make achieving your goals easier later.

Show the spirit within your company

A business plan doesn’t have to be entirely technical documents and spreadsheets. Adding a company profile can give insight into the heart and soul of your business. Explaining your history, values and problem-solving strategies could be an effective hook to customers, investors and future partners.

Victory often lies in preparation. Coming to the table with a strong business plan can be one of the best ways to make sure that a new venture hits the ground running and sticks around for the long haul.