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.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.