No two companies share the exact same business plan, but there are some key details you absolutely need to include. With the right approach, you’ll end up with a plan that can keep you on track during the early days of your start-up through the growth phase and beyond.

Here are five things to include:

  • Business overview: This is an overview of the basics, with a focus on the legal structure, location and type of business. It’s one of the easiest sections to complete, as you’re likely to have all the required information to get started.
  • Management team: If you’re the only person in the business, at least for now, it shouldn’t take too long to complete this section. It should include your name and a brief summary of your experience and responsibilities. Conversely, if you have several owners or members of your management team, this section is much more detailed.
  • Market analysis: Include all data related to the market you’re joining, with a focus on your target customer. When available, include charts and graphs to break down the current state of the market.
  • Competitor analysis: This goes hand in hand with a market analysis, as you should have a clear idea of your primary competitors, including how long they’ve been in business and their market share. The more information you collect on your competitors, the better off you’ll be as you grow your business.
  • Sales and marketing plan: This is one of the most detailed sections of your business plan, as it’s critical to have a strategy for marketing your products and/or services and closing sales. For example, this is a good time to settle on pricing and a marketing/advertising budget. The details you include here will help avoid confusion and questions later.

Many company founders make the mistake of hitting the ground running without creating a business plan. You may get away with this at first, but it will eventually slow you down while also costing you time and money.

By creating a comprehensive business plan up front, you’ll feel better about your ability to maintain stability at all stages in the future.