Nearly every business owner is aware that operating a business without a plan is similar to riding a motorcycle down a mountain in blindfolded. According to a variety of studies, more that half of businesses don’t have formal plans in place.

Creating a business plan takes time and effort, and it’s important to consider the needs of your target market when writing it (for example when you’re looking for investors then your plan will need more diligence than a business plan you’re using as a roadmap for yourself). A properly-designed business plan will help you avoid common mistakes and take advantage of opportunities. It can also serve as the framework to succeed, even if you do not follow it exactly.

A good business plan begins with a brief introduction to your company, which should include the reason you are starting the business and how it will meet a market need. It should also address any unique intellectual property you have which gives your business an edge. This section should include your mission statement as well as the names of the most important team members and their responsibilities in the company.

The next section will explain the products and services you will offer along with your pricing strategy and the method you will use to deliver these. You should include a complete financial analysis that outlines the startup costs you anticipate and the method you will use to generate revenue, and your projected timeline to profitability.