Every company should have a business plan and within it a realistic set of goals for success that includes the methods necessary to reach those goals. As your business grows and changes, these goals will likely be redefined, altered, or updated. But regardless of how they shift, your business plan is an essential part of keeping your business focused and on track.

To maximize the effectiveness of your business plan, ask yourself these 5 basic questions when setting your initial objectives:

1. What do I want personally? Consider where you see yourself five, ten or twenty years down the road. If you’re planning to eventually sell the company and retire, you need to have an exit plan. Set a numerical amount you need personally and begin working towards that number.

2. What are my business goals? This is an absolute must. Without quantifiable goals a business can wander aimlessly. Set targets and begin working towards them. Include the amount of sales, number of customers, quantity of locations, headcount, and net profit to be achieved, into this process.

3. What do I sell? In some form, it must be a solution to a need. If an individual does not have a need you can fulfill, well, they will probably not be your customer. Understanding this will help you identify your market and the customers within it.

4. How do I deliver my products or services? In today’s world, delivery of products or services can be handled in a number of ways. With that in mind, it helps you determine how many employees you will need, where you will be located and how you will market your business.

5. How much should I charge for my products or services? The financial side of the business is where the metal meets the road. Most business owners do not charge enough for their products or services thus minimizing their chances of meeting the goals for growing the value of their business. The price must be fair to the business as well as the customer.

The answers to these questions can become quite complicated. Take the time needed to ask all of the relevant questions and then research the answers in full. Utilize all of the tools available to you, whether they are books, a mentor, or a consultant, to help you tease out the snags, clearly articulate your objectives, and develop quantifiable goals for your new endeavor.

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