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Commonly, business plans are considered only necessary as a means of obtaining financing to start or expand a business. In truth, having a business plan is absolutely essential for any business. The benefit of a business plan is to critically analyze not only your business but to also critically analyze industry opportunities and market realities.

The key to business success on any level is having a realistic plan that takes into account known information and makes educated guesses regarding that which cannot be known with certainty. Compiling the information necessary to prepare a comprehensive business plan also provides the information necessary to navigate the business through good times as well as bad.

Having a thorough business plan does not, however, guarantee success. Sometimes even the best laid plans fail due to unforeseeable reasons. Lacking a business plan, however, practically guarantees failure.

Everyone who knows anything about business plans knows that a business never runs according to plan, so it is crucial to have a game plan in place before spending significant amounts of time, money, and energy. Not having a plan means a complete lack of preparation, which will cause every decision to be made without sufficient consideration or a common end goal in mind. Simply put, a business without a plan is a disaster waiting to happen.

Available on the Internet is a tremendous amount of information about writing a business plan. Software programs can also be purchased to help write the plan. Additionally, there are numerous consultants who can assist businesses develop and write a plan; some consultations are even free, thanks to business development agencies and university programs. Below are some resources that can help demystify the process. The reality, however, is that a significant amount of work is necessary—work that needs to be done by the people starting the business. Once the research has been done, the next step is to write the plan and perhaps work with professionals. There is simply no way to start with the writing process or hire a consultant without having done the necessary background research.

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