Should I write a business plan?

You may think of a business plan as a tool to attract investors and raise capital. However, once you put the ideas you have down on paper-chiefly your business goals and how you intend to achieve them-you will be able to see the many parts of your new venture all at once. You will likely find intersections of interest that have more potential than you had imagined as well as some dead ends that may cause you to back up and go in a different direction.

Holding yourself accountable

Any new venture requires considerable thought and planning. You will want to lay out certain milestones in your business plan that you can use to monitor progress. You should set out your mission statement or value proposition, your operations, financial and staffing plans and your marketing assumptions. If you are the founder of the business, and especially if you wear all the hats, your business plan will be your guide. If you are only accountable to yourself, you can use it to show where you had a sales breakthrough or where certain results did not measure up to projections. A business plan will help you persevere and improve, and your business enterprise is sure to be the better for it.

Attracting talent

Another good reason to have a well-constructed business plan is that you can use it to attract your target employees or even independent contractors. When you are asked about your company, you can produce your business plan, using it as an overview of the operation. Once prospective new hires have read and digested the information, you can see how well they have been able to think through key points.

Getting on the same page

You may have put together a founding team, and your business plan is a tool to ensure you are all working in concert with one another. You want to be sure everyone understands the objectives for the company and can work together to achieve them. Your business plan will serve as a roadmap that everyone will be expected to follow.

Help with company structure

If you are going to work on your own, at least for a while until your business gets rolling, you may have no trouble setting it up because the rules for a sole proprietor are easy to understand and follow. In this case, your business plan may be no more than one or two pages. However, if you are considering forming a corporation or partnership, it would be wise to seek the help of an experienced business attorney who can help you with complex legal and tax requirements and offer advice on the development of a more comprehensive business plan.

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