Almost every business owner knows that running a business without a plan is like riding a bike up a cliff blindfolded. However, according to numerous studies more than half all businesses do not have a formal plan in place.

It takes time and effort to create an effective business plan. It is important to think about the needs of your intended audience when drafting the plan (for example, you will require more discipline if you are looking for investors versus those who only wish to use it as a guide for yourself). While no one plan can predict the future, a well-written plan can help you avoid common pitfalls and allows you to seize opportunities, and provides a basis for success, even if you do not follow it exactly.

A great business plan should begin with a brief description of your business’s history and the reasons why you’re launching this venture and how it will fulfill the market’s needs. It should also address any special intellectual property you own that gives your company an edge. This section can include your mission statement as well as the names of the most important team members as well as their roles in the company.

The next section will explain the services and products you are planning to offer, your pricing strategy, and how you intend to deliver these. Include a comprehensive financial report that details your startup costs and revenue generation strategies and the timeframe you plan to achieve the growth of your business.