Having a sound business plan is an essential element of success for any new business, because it literally establishes a roadmap for where your company is going over a set period of time. If you haven’t planned out exactly what you hope to accomplish, achieving success will be almost impossible. Your business plan should provide answers to each of the following crucial questions, and it’s those answers which will guide you down the path which ultimately lead to success.

How will you maintain cash flow?

When estimating cash flow for the coming year, or for an even longer period into the future, it’s always best to err on the side of conservatism. That is much more likely to be the case than will an aggressive estimate, and if your business can function on the lower estimated cash flow, it should be even better if there turns out to be a higher level of cash flow than predicted.

What makes your product unique?

Your business plan should identify a product or service which makes you stand out from the crowd, otherwise consumers will not have a reason to buy your product, and they’ll continue to purchase from their current supplier.

How will you make your product inexpensively and quickly?

Not only do you need a unique product, but you must be able to produce it in a cost-effective manner, so you can have a profitable business. It won’t matter how great your product is, if it doesn’t generate profits that will keep you in business.

How can you protect your unique product?

If your unique product really does catch on with the purchasing public, you can bet that a competitor will want to copy the idea in some way. You’ll need to prepare a strategy for protecting your product, so others don’t capitalize on it and leave you out in the cold.

Is there sufficient market for your unique product?

Have you done market research to ensure that there are enough potential buyers of your product to make it viable? Your product might be very distinctive, but if only a few people want it, that won’t sustain your business for long.

How will you appeal to your target audience?

Which marketing and advertising strategies will you use to appeal to your target audience? Your business plan should specify the channels that you’ll use to reach your targeted consumers.