Developing a vision for your company is the first step in laying a solid foundation upon which to build your business. When you have a sound understanding of what you hope to achieve and gain from the enterprise at the outset – and likewise, how you want others to benefit from your services – you will have a strong reference point as your organization matures and faces challenges you would not have anticipated during your startup days.

High-performing businesses also lay out a strategy for how they plan to fulfil and maintain their vision, as I explained in The Entrepreneurial Journey. This component of the business plan should address what you want to accomplish, what resources and skills are currently at your disposal and what roadblocks or opportunities await you in the future.

Next, outline the structure of your organization. How will your employees work together? What roles and functions will they serve in the business? How will you develop and enforce policies that assign authority and accountability among all of your team members?

The systems component of your business plan will need to be regularly reassessed and updated as your company develops and becomes more complex. In the early stages, you may only hire employees as you gradually delegate tasks, but later on, it may be necessary to devise a staffing system. (Search “Hiring” for tips on how to design and fill new positions.) Delegating to technology and creating processes for managing information, knowledge and client relationships will also be necessary.

The final pillar that holds up high-performing organizations consists of the people and the level with which their skills make your service delivery possible. How you apply your own strengths and select employees with capabilities and expertise to fill in the gaps will determine the success of your company.

It is important to note that this is not an a la carte listing of business characteristics. You must properly execute every one of these components to avoid failure. Each piece is woven into the next – they work to enhance and strengthen each other and will provide the context for all other aspects of your business in the future.