Everyone has their “hobbyhorse” and mine is business planning. I have seen businesses succeed and I have seen them fail and while there are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a business, I continually see businesses with business plans manage those factors… and improve their chances of success.
Like the Constitution, a business plan should be a living document. That means, it should always be changing and growing with your business. Your business plan shouldn't lock you into a way of doing things. Instead, your business plan should enable you to take on more opportunities.
A business plan helps you anticipate problems before they arise and build solutions before you even need them. A business plan helps you know your market, better than they know themselves, so you can advertise effectively and sell more products. A business plan helps you understand your industry well — such as the ups and downs that might come with a rising and falling economy — and help you to maintain an even keel.
Business plans are not something that ONLY a new business needs to do. I firmly believe that they should be done by every business and reviewed on a quarterly basis and updated on (at least) an annual basis.
If you're in business and haven't created a business plan yet, let me encourage you to spend the time to make one. You won't regret it and the bottom line is that you'll improve your bottom line!
You can find business plan templates at /businessplan/ to help you get started.