Getting Started on Your Business Plan 15

Writing a business plan is not intuitive. Sometimes it is hard to know where to begin. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started:

  • Check out a business plan outline to see what is expected in a business plan
  • Use this free fill-in-the-blank business plan template in the format preferred by the SBA and lenders.
  • See if you have a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Business Resource Center, or SCORE office to get advice. Check our SBDC finder to find an SBDC near you. You might also want to check with your local Chamber of Commerce office for additional local resources.
  • Read helpful articles written by industry experts on how to write a business plan
  • Use business plan software to help guide you through the process of writing a business plan.
  • Browse through over 500 free sample business plans in various industries for you to get inspiration from and use as examples.

As far as beginning, the success of any business plan is within the quality of the information provided. Once you determine the type of business you want to go into, the plan itself is to represent the operation on paper as if it already exists. How much revenue is expected, from where, the marketing plan that prompts the sales, the infrastructure needed to meet the needs of doing business as well as other related actions and costs. Take your time and talk to as many people as possible for information.

Doing your homework up front is like taking on an insurance policy. It increases your chances of succeeding by eliminating the unknowns. In the end there are always other variables.

I would also start by purchasing LivePlan software and going through the tutorials.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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How LivePlan makes your business more successful

LivePlan: Online Business Planning Software

If you're writing a business plan, you're in luck. Online business planning software makes it easier than ever before to put together a business plan for your business.

As you'll see in a moment, LivePlan is more than just business plan software, though. It's a knowledgable guide combined with a professional designer coupled with a financial wizard. It'll help you get over the three most common business hurdles with ease.

Let's take a look at those common hurdles, and see how producing a top-notch business plan sets your business up for success.

Click to continue
  • Management Majors

    Thank you for the excellent resources. These plans are a great place to start when crafting one’s own business plan.

  • yvette

    im planning to open a coffee shop and i dont knows how to make a business plan.can you help me,what i shoul do?i dont have any experience in opening a business?

  • Casi Deatherage

    Hello Yvette,

    Business Plan Pro has everything you need to create a complete business plan. Business Plan Pro Version 11.0 is an easy step by step process, in an SBA-approved document format, complete financial plan, powerful forecasting tools and 500+ sample business plans included.


    Best regards,

    Casi Deatherage
    Palo Alto Software
    Customer Care

  • zama

    We are trying to draw up a busineness plan for a service station, no idea where to start. please advise!

    Zama, is intended to be a resource to help you with general information and guidance. There are several free business plans on our website for you to use as guides in writing your own plan. We also have our software, Business Plan Pro, which will help walk you through, step-by-step, writing your business plan.

    Good luck!

    ‘Chelle Parmele
    Palo Alto Software

  • Kevin D

    I would like to expand my business and would like some help in writing my business plan



    You have a couple of avenues available for assistance in writing your business plan. You can check out your local SBDC or SCORE offices, they’re always happy to help out new businesses. Try a consultant like Master Plans, but these can sometimes be fairly costly. You can also try software like our Business Plan Pro software. All of these resources are going to help you on the track to starting your own business.

    Good luck!

    ‘Chelle Parmele
    Palo Alto Software

  • john

    hiya der!!…i want to start a coffee pub…cud u plz suggest me a business plan??..thanks guys


    We have several sample business plans on the website. It’s possible you won’t find a plan that’s completely tailored for your business venture, and that’s ok! Because you want to use these samples as guides and resources, not templates where you put in your company name and hit print. I suggest looking around the sample plan pages for a plan to look through.

    ‘Chelle Parmele
    Palo Alto Software

  • frank eminovski

    Hi I am starting a security and investigations company i would like a sample of a business plan thanks frank


    Hi Frank,

    You can find examples of all types of business plans on the website. While you might not find a plan that matches your particular plan exactly, you’ll find the basic structure and examples of several different areas of business that should be helpful to you writing your business plan.

    You could also look into our business planning software, Business Plan Pro. It would walk you through writing your own business plan, step by step.

    The important thing to remember is that even if you found a plan exactly like the business you plan to start, it still wouldn’t be a plan of YOUR business. Every business is different and your best course of action is writing the business plan yourself so you make sure YOUR information about YOUR business is there.

    I hope this was helpful to you.

    ‘Chelle Parmele
    Palo Alto Software

  • lynn grace

    I am trying to start my own catering business from my home and require funding which I believe will require a business plan. Currently unemployed and on an extremely limited budget, can you provide any suggestions for start up supportive services?

    Thank you for your time and consideration to my question.
    Lynn Grace

  • roan mae

    Hi. We would like to franchise a small business…but we need to have a business plan to present to the bank to borrow money. My question is, should the owner of the franchise provide us the business plan? And should the financial plan be included to the paper work?

    Good questions Roan. There are a couple of answers to what you’ve asked.
    1. The current owner of the franchise should supply you with documentation. Financial information is going to be key in your decision to purchasing the business. If they have a business plan, you should ask them to provide you a copy of it. If they don’t want to show you how the business is doing financially, then that’s a problem.
    2. Should they write your business plan? No. You should write it. You’re taking over and will more than likely have your own ideas and plans on how to go forward. These ideas and plans will be independent from the current owners and should be solely your own.
    3. Anytime a business is changing hands or you are looking for funding, you need to include financials. A bank or lending firm won’t give you money based on your claims that it will be successful. They need to see the numbers.

  • benjamin

    am so glad to have found this website for it has given me a guide on my coursework and on my community based organization i can say i can nw write a business plan due to yo help. long live

  • stano

    I think this is the last article you’ll ever read on how to get started with your business plan. Congratulations Tim for writing this informative post.

  • Michael

    ahmm..can I get a sample of a businessplan .bcoz one of our requirements in school is the passing of our own business plans..

  • mahesh

    i am start a software company so guide me

    • Tim Berry

      Mahesh, you just asked “guide me” … click around this site, it’s all about starting a business. Browse, click, read. :)

  • Jake Weatherly

    Business Plan Pro will work perfectly for you to develop your own plan for your specific business, and it includes all 500 sample business plans as a source for inspiration.

    Start by opening the sample plan you choose in Business Plan Pro, and then use the built-in wizard to step through the planning process. The wizard provides instructions for every step, and Business Plan Pro even puts your plan together for you when it is time to print.

    Hope that helps!

    Jake Weatherly
    Director of Customer Experience
    Palo Alto Software