One thing that many entrepreneurs have in common is a dread and distaste for the thought of writing a business plan. I want to change your mind about that and tell you why a good business plan can be one of the best friends your current or future business could possibly have.

One of the most important things that you can know about a business plan is that you most likely will not get any funding for your business without one, whether it’s government grants for business, a bank loan, venture capital, or any other kind of funding. Your business plan will be there to vouch for you like a friend and provide you support through the tough start-up or growth periods. It’s like this: If a funder doesn’t really know who you are or whether you can do what you say you can, it would just be a leap of faith to give their money to you. Obviously, businesses can’t run this way, and even government grant funders are, in essence, running a business. Since the source of government grants is taxpayer money, the grant funders have to show that they are getting the best results for the money they allocate.

A side note to this is that most of the new businesses started today are being launched by women entrepreneurs. Despite this growing trend, some old attitudes might remain about the capability of women to succeed in business. What better way is there to dispel these outdated ideas than by showing solid numbers and compelling facts that show that you’re a good candidate for government grants for women, business loans, and more? A business plan provides proof that you know what you’re doing, where you want to take your business, and how you plan to get there.

But here’s another way a business plan can be your business’s best friend. It can be used as a tool for self-analysis and a way to determine the best way forward. Like a good pal, it will show you the truth and help you decide what’s best. It’s easy to be optimistic about growth prospects and maybe even minimize the expenses and risks you’ll incur. It’s in our nature as entrepreneurs to always be expecting the most favorable outcome. However, getting the more realistic numbers and contingencies down on paper helps to ground our business sense in reality. We can keep aiming for the top, but at the same time, be well prepared for a more modest or slower growth level, and still survive.

One common misconception of a business plan is that you only need to bother with it if you’re just starting out, or if you’re trying to get additional funding for the purpose of growth. In fact, you are better off if you think of it as a living document to be updated and tweaked periodically.

So if you’re shying away from writing a good business plan, just keep in mind that you may be turning your back on one of the best resources for support and help for your business to grow and prosper. It’ll be there for you to assist you with doing the best you can and to help give you a clear idea of the best path forward.