What's The Plan?

Cool Tools

Websites:

·Bplans.com
(http://www.bplans.com/): Writing a plan for a start-up is different from creating one for an established business, and this site knows it--it's a key resource for start-ups who want to know more about financing.

·CCH Business Owner's Toolkit (http://www.toolkit.cch.com): This Web site features free sample business plans tailored for retail, service and manufacturing businesses, all in downloadable files.

·Lansing, Michigan, Community College Small Business Development Center--Business Plan (http://www.lansing.cc.mi.us/sbdc): A free business plan template.

·Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Organizing a Business Plan (http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~ohioline
/cd-fact/1101.html
): Want a no-nonsense overview of business plans? Head to this site for a terse look at planning for a small business.

·Sample Business Plan/Canada (http://www.sb.gov.bc.ca:80/smallbus/workshop
/sample.html
): Developed by the British Columbia Business Service Centre, this model plan works for most types of businesses. There are some differences between how Canadians and Americans do these things, but this document is useful for any North American.

·SBA-Business Plan Outline (http://http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/planning/basic.html): See a detailed business plan outline, compliments of the SBA. For free, personalized input from SBA staff, find your local office in the White Pages under the "Federal Government" listings, or call (800) 8-ASK-SBA.

·BizPlanIt.com (http://www.bizplanit.com): You've drafted your plan but want pro input before showing it around? Check out consulting firm BizPlanIt.com's "business plan review" service. For $750, you get a section-by-section critique. The same firm will draft your plan from scratch for a jaw-dropping $8,500. The Web site, however, is rich with freebies-advice, links and a newsletter.

Books:

·Business Plans Made Easy (Entrepreneur Media Inc., $19.95) walks you through every aspect of creating a business plan. Real-life examples, sections on tailoring your plan to different audiences and a list of resources are especially helpful. Sold at http://www.entrepreneur.com and at major and online bookstores.

·The One Page Business Plan (One Page Business Plan Co., $19.95) takes 97 pages to tell you how to put your plan on one sheet of paper, but author Jim Horan's received rave reviews from entrepreneurial luminaries such as Paul and Sarah Edwards.

·The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies (Psi Research/Oasis Press, $27.95) Written by Rhonda M. Abrams, this book is a thorough look at how to create your own business plan.

Software:

·BizPlanBuilder (Jian Software, $89.95) Flexible and easy to use, this program has a document creator that leads you through writing your plan. Both Windows and Mac versions are available. Call (800) 346-5426 or visit http://www.jian.com

·Business Plan Pro 4.0 (Palo Alto Software, $89.95) Use this program to write a plan complete with tables and charts. Split-screen interface lets you see what you're working on in half of the screen while viewing instructions in the other. Both Windows and Mac versions are available. Download a free demo from http://www.pasware.comor call (800) 229-7526.


Freelance writer Jacquelyn Lynn writes about business, management and marketing issues. Although half her business plan is still written on Post-it notes, she refers to it at least once a month and updates it twice a year.

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This article was originally published in the March 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: What's The Plan?.

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