A business plan serves as the blueprint for how you will operate your business. While you need to have a business plan to seek investors or get a loan for your company, the plan is actually for your benefit. It provides a step-by-step guide as you start a new business or grow your current company. It provides direction for every decision you make going forward.

Writing down your business plan helps you clarify your thoughts and organize the steps you need to take to be successful in your business. There are a number of pieces that all have to come together to make your business profitable.

A business plan ensures that you won’t skip any important steps that could derail your efforts down the line. Be specific (even if the plan is for your eyes only).

Use measurable milestones, accountable responsibilities and trackable performance expectations, for starters. When your plan is clearly spelled out in writing, it helps you see the big picture and identify potential problems before you make blunders.

Your plan should include things like what you plan to offer to the market, how you plan to deliver it, what the costs are, how much you plan to charge, what you plan to make in profit on each sale and what your fixed costs such as rent and utilities are going to be.

After your business plan is developed, referring to it periodically can help you maintain a long-range view as you make daily decisions. The plan makes it easier to follow each business development step in order so you don’t miss any important elements along the way.

A well-written plan provides you with a starting point and outlines a timetable that drives your activities, keeps you grounded, focuses on your target market, and strategically aligns with your main business tactics as you track your progress.