Every business needs a business plan and a business plan requires goals, objectives and strategies. Goals are what you hope to accomplish in the upcoming period of time. Goals can be set on a monthly basis, every three months or yearly. Some entrepreneurs set major goals for the year and then monthly goals. Think of goals as the end destination on a trip. If you don’t establish where you’re going you won’t know if you got there. Objectives are the benchmarks along the way and strategies are the road map that will guide you to your goals. It may seem like extra work to formalize your objectives and strategies but it has three huge advantages.

1. Once you’ve finished the tasks for each product you may realize that it’s an impossibility to get everything accomplished in the time frame you’ve assigned. You either have to stretch the time frame, eliminate some of the tasks, or eliminate a revenue stream. The business plan forces you to be realistic.

2. With a business plan you know what you did and if it worked. You can increase the activities that worked and start eliminating the efforts that don’t. For example: if your business is web related, one of your objectives may be increasing traffic to those websites. If backlinks are not increasing your traffic and posting on discussion lists is a major source of traffic, don’t waste time getting backlinks.

3. The business plan keeps you on track. Think of it as a master plan. You know what you have to do every month to achieve your objectives. Focus is critical to achievement. Comparing your plan results to your actual results can increase productivity.

It may help to take your monthly objectives and strategies and keep track of your activities by the week. An old fashioned notebook is good. You can print out a spreadsheet with the strategies, three hole punch it and then jot down notes for the week. You’ll have an easy way to track your progress. At the end of the week update the spreadsheet with your notes.

Once you’ve finished your goals, objectives, and strategies you can incorporate them into a formal business plan. You’ve already established your revenues, you have a good idea of what strategies and tasks need to be accomplished and the expenses that will be necessary.

Know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. A business plan can be your roadmap to success.

Free business plan format. Dee Power is the author of Business Plan Basics on how to write a business plan and several other nonfiction books, as well as the novel, “Over Time” Money, love, and football: All the important things in life. Her other nonfiction books include “The Publishing Primer: A Blueprint for an Author’s Success,” “58 Ways to Find Money for Your Business, “Inside Secrets to Venture Capital” and “Attracting Capital From Angels.”