So, you’ve got a great idea for a business and you’re ready to take the road less traveled by becoming an entrepreneur. Congratulations!

While becoming a business owner is exciting, having a road map for your journey is critical. If you need a business loan, often it’s required.

Crafting a business plan can be an arduous task, to be sure, but if developed thoroughly, it can be your most powerful tool. Not only will it clearly define the mission, values and goals of your business, it can help you think through each component of your business, help you secure funding and help you strategize future growth.

In a study conducted by Palo Alto Software, of the almost 2,800 respondents surveyed, 995 indicated that they had completed a business plan. Of those, 64% were able to grow their businesses, compared with 43% of those who didn’t create a plan. Those who had a plan were more likely to obtain funding for their business.

Business plans come in many different formats and can be as short as one page, but the fundamental components of any plan should include:

■ A summary and description of your business

■ A market analysis

■ Financial projections

■ A description of your organization and its management structure

■ A sales strategy

■ The dollar amount required to make your business viable, if you are applying for funding

■ A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis

If you are interested in developing a plan for your startup or expanding business, there are several resources for you to consider.

SCORE is a network of volunteer entrepreneurship experts who provide free, confidential business mentoring in person or remotely via email, phone and video. SCORE mentors meet with their small business clients on an ongoing basis to provide continued advice and support.

The Small Business Development Center of North Central Texas is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration and North Central Texas College and has several satellite offices throughout the area, including one at the Denton Chamber of Commerce. The SBDC has access to a broad range of customizable resources for the development of a business plan.

For woman-owned businesses, Texas Woman’s University’s Center for Women in Business provides free business advisement services including:

■ Building a business plan

■ Startup assistance

■ Financing

■ Marketing

■ Business expansion

■ Buying or selling a business

■ Certification

The CWB’s professional small business adviser can guide you on every aspect of starting and growing your business. Virtual and in-person appointments are available. The CWB also houses a business resource library containing excellent books about creating a business plan. Books are available for loan up to two weeks.

Though researching and writing a business plan may seem daunting, it is essential to the immediate and future success of your business.

Shannon Mantaro is director of Texas Woman’s University’s Center for Women in Business and can be reached at smantaro@twu.edu. For more information regarding the Center for Women in Business, visit https://twu.edu/center-women-business.

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