Writing a business plan is a necessary part of starting a business, yet many small business owners struggle with the process. Not only can it be time-consuming and stressful to conduct the necessary research and gather the required materials, but it can also be difficult to know exactly what format your business plan should be in and what information it should include.
To help you streamline the process, here are 14 tools you can use to get started with your business plan.
This set of online tools walks you through each section of a traditional business plan in a step-by-step format.
- SBA's Build Your Business Plan Tool - The SBA's Business Plan Tool is a step-by-step guide that allows you to save your progress and come back to it for up to six months.
- Enloop - With this tool, you add in your information, and Enloop automatically writes your plan based on your details.
- LivePlan - LivePlan is an online service that simplifies the business planning process while providing assistance with budgeting, forecasting, and performance tracking.
- RocketLawyer - Business owners can create a customized, printable business plan with RocketLawyer by following an online step-by-step interview process.
- StratPad - StratPad's step-by-step approach and cloud-based business planning software help small business owners create a plan in less than a day.
Business Plan Tutorials
These five business planning how-to documents will help you get your business plan started.
- How to Write a Simple Business Plan - An easy 8-step business plan tutorial that results in a streamlined and brief business plan that you can use as-is or as a starting point for a more traditional business plan.
- SBA's Video Business Planning Tutorial - This series of video tutorials includes nine videos that are about 2-10 minutes each. You can pick and choose where to start or run through them in the original order.
- Entrepreneur's Elements of a Business Plan - An in-depth review of the seven essential sections of a business plan: what you should include, what you shouldn't include, how to work the numbers and additional resources you can turn to for help.
- Comprehensive Business Plan Outline - A business plan outline that walks you through each section of a basic business plan, including an overview of what should be included, examples and tips for writing each section of your business plan effectively.
- Shopify's Ultimate Guide to Business Plans - This comprehensive 9-chapter business plan guide covers every important aspect of writing a business plan.
Business Plan Templates
If you prefer more of a "fill-in-the-blank" format to get your business plan started, one of these templates may be exactly what you need.
- SCORE Business Planning Templates - A collection of business planning templates that are for both new and established businesses.
- BPlans' Business Plan Template - A downloadable template that gives you a clear idea of what a traditional business plan should look like. (Free sign-up is required to download.)
- The $100 Startup One-Page Business Plan - Download and fill in the blanks with this one-page business plan template.
- Office Depot's Business Plan Templates - These templates include the most important elements of a business plan that demonstrate how the nature of a business and the target audience for the plan impact the content.
Keep in mind that the best business plans are those that are updated and regularly used as a way to keep your business on track. Whichever tool you use, make it a goal to create a plan that you can use as an action document and can grow with your business over time.