Remember those ads in the back of Rolling Stone or any other magazine you read as a teenager?

In our business, we are continually facing a conundrum with the use of sample business plans. While on the one hand they are truly useful as a resource to glean information and advice about the best way to write a successful business plan, they are more and more seen as the silver bullet to get your business up and running quickly and easily. And just like a term paper you buy from an ad out of the back of a magazine won’t get you an A in history, a sample business plan on its own won’t guarantee success in starting your business or raising money.

We have made sample plans available to customers, as we have had so many requests for them, but we have never sold plans individually – only as a learning tool included in our software. This is the way a sample plan should be used – to learn from, not to cut corners. But somewhere along the way, people decided that all they needed to create a successful business plan was to buy someone else’s plan.

In our industry, it’s a difficult position to be in. On the one hand, customers are asking us to sell business plans while on the other, we know it is not the best way to write a successful plan. Using someone else’s plan has more potential to harm a business then actually help it.
The only real way to write a successful plan is to do it yourself – either with the help of software or on your own. Samples can be good examples of how others have done it, but will never substitute creating a unique plan for your unique business.

Stever Robbins over at has a good take on this issue. You can read his article here:,4621,291612,00.html

AvatarNoah Parsons

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. You can follow Noah on Twitter.