Every entrepreneur has a burning desire to get started, but that’s only the first step. Once your start-up is open for business, you need customers. Once you have a few customers on the books, you start to face challenges; often challenges you hadn’t planned for.

As in nature, it’s a case of adapt or die. So you adapt, and prove to yourself that you can survive.

But can you move beyond survival mode and earn a good income? Many start-ups plateau at this point, never managing to provide a reliable income and long-term career prospects for their founders. With careful planning, you can avoid being one of them.

Here are 4 things to include in your business plan to ensure your start-up thrives.

  1. Plan for growth

    Some entrepreneurs are excellent at starting a business but lack the management skills to handle its growth. The growth of a business presents all sorts of challenges and you need to know how you’ll deal with them before they occur.

    Address this in your business plan by clearly articulating your growth milestones, and what you’ll do to support that growth. What structures will you put in place? Will you recruit a team to exploit growth opportunities as they arise? How? Plan for growth before it happens and you’ll be better prepared to make the most of it.

  2. Nail your unique sales proposition

    Establishing a business is a success in itself. A single-service outlet such as a coffee shop can be a great family business but to grow it needs a unique sales proposition.

    What makes your coffee shop different when there’s one on nearly every corner? Think Starbucks or Gloria Jeans. Each has built an image of service and dependability, while selling an experience – not just a cup of coffee.

  3. Make your business scalable

    So you have a unique selling proposition and a growth plan. Now the killer question: who wants to invest in your business? What about venture capitalists or franchising opportunities?

    As part of your planning process, discuss what KPIs need to be met before either of these becomes an option. It’s vital everyone involved is on the same page about how you’ll manage these growth opportunities.

  4. Have an exit plan

    Getting into a start-up is easy. Getting out, however, is not. It might feel awkward or tacky to discuss your exit strategy in the start-up phase. However, there are two crucial points where discord is sure to raise its head: when there is no money and when there is a lot.

    What KPIs need to be met for the start-up to continue, and what thresholds are in place for selling off or shutting down should the project stall? Discuss all possibilities so that if one of them occurs, there’s no ambiguity.

The difference between a business surviving and thriving is often hidden in plain sight, in the business plan. Commit to revising yours regularly. It could be your key to survival – and success.