Great businesses start with great business plans. But actually sitting down to write a business plan may be a daunting task for novice entrepreneurs.
Luckily for aspiring business owners, there are a lot of tools available to help you get your ideas down on paper.
Here are a few of the most useful tools for planning your business:
Before you actually sit down to write your business plan, you'll want to do some research on exactly what a business plan is. What's usually included in a business plan? How is it typically organized?
Most business plans follow the same basic format. They include:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Information about organization and management
- Service or product line information
- Marketing and sales strategies
- Funding requests
- Financial projections
For more information on what information to include in these sections, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration's website.
Sample business plans
Some sites offer free sample business plans for those who want to see what their finished plan should look like. Bplans is a great site that categorizes sample plans by industry, so you can easily find examples that are relevant to the business you're hoping to start.
Business plan templates
If you're not sure how to begin writing down your business plan, you should consider using the templates provided by online business planning services. A template will allow you to fill in a pre-organized business plan with your own information.
While using a template isn't ideal for creating the most unique business plans, it can help beginners keep track of their plan and make sure they haven't left out anything important.
Score, a nonprofit association for small businesses, offers a great business plan template that can help you create a thorough and well thought-out plan.
And Enloop, which offers both free and paid business plan writing services, provides useful tools for completing the most difficult parts of your plan, like the financial projections section.
Of course, the more comprehensive your business planning service gets, the more it will cost you. Before spending your money on an online business planning service, do a little research to find out which of these services are worth your time and money. [The Best Online Business Plans]
Business plan software
If the idea of storing your business plan in the cloud doesn't appeal to you, then you might want to consider using business planning software instead of a web-based service.
There are a number of options to choose from when it comes to business planning software, but the best choices include forecasting tools and industry profiles that let you generate accurate financial projections that can help you get the funding you need.
Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or are planning your very first business, a comprehensive software package might be the right tool for you. [Best Business Plan Software]
Editor's note: If you're looking for information to help you with writing your business plan, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free.
Business plan apps
Of course, in today's mobile world, there are also a number of apps that you can use to help you write your business plan on the go.
For $9.99, aspiring CEOs can download Business Plan Premier for iPad and receive a step-by-step tutorial on how to write an effective plan. The app even provides a platform for sharing your plan with investors, giving you integrated access to potential funds.
Elevatr, another iOS app, combines the usefulness of a note taking app with the structure of a business plan. While this app doesn't include as many tools as some of its counterparts, it's free and can help you keep track of all the ideas you have for your business in one place.