Writing a business plan is key to the success of any business, especially if funding is needed. This is a guide to the best online business plan resources.
A good business plan can qualify a company for a bank loan or other funding. It can also help to keep the company on the right track to maximize revenue. The business plan needs to be concise, well thought out, organized, and convincing. There are many free and reliable sites which offer free business plan samples without having to register before leaving the home page. Here this author’s favorite few:
Sample Business Plans
Entrepreneur Magazine offers steps to creating a business plan, and over 100 sample business plans on its website. They all start with an Executive Summary, followed by a Company Summary section, a Services or Products section, then a Market Analysis Summary, a Strategy and Implementation Summary, a Management Summary, a Financial Plan section, and finally an Appendix.
Business Plan Templates
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), a free business planning and advisory organization, offers 3 business planning templates in Word or PDF: a business plan for a start-up business, a business plan for an established business, or business planning tools for a non-profit organization. They also invite the business plan author to take advantage of their free expert business planning advice.
The SCORE template includes the following sections: Table of Contents, Executive Summary, General Company Description, Products and Services, Marketing Plan, Operational Plan, Management and Organization, Personal Financial Statement, Start-up Expenses and Capitalization, Financial Plan, and Appendices.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers an excellent outline of a business plan, a free online workshop for preparing a business plan, and a page dedicated to the basics of writing a comprehensive business plan. They also provide a free multi-step template which helps any small business fill in their business plan section by section, and when finalized, the author can download an editable, formatted copy. The SBA-recommended business plan sections are: Cover Sheet, Statement of Purpose, Table of Contents, The Business, Financial Data, and Supporting Documents.
Business Plan Uses
The SBA also provides tips for how a business can best use its business plan.
Writing a business plan is not as difficult as it might sound. With all the free advice available on the internet, the hardest part is deciding which free business plan sample(s) to follow. Many businesses choose to combine the best and most appropriate elements from each of the samples. Best of luck on completing the plan and moving forward with it!