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Getting to the Next Level They say success is a journey, not a destination. Either way, you'll need a map.

Many first-time entrepreneurs wonder if they really need a business plan. In fact, you may not. If you're running a kitchen-table business with no rent, employees or inventory, then you probably don't need to predict how much revenue your business is going to generate next year or how much it's going to cost you to generate sales. If, on the other hand, you have something more ambitious in mind--opening a restaurant, launching a fashion line, starting an internet company or expanding your current operations--then you're going to have to put some serious money behind the idea. And whether that capital is coming from you, your family or an investor, you're going to need a road map to show you how you're going to get to your destination and how much time and money it's going to take. That road map is your business plan.

Here are some business plan resources that can help you create a road map to take your company to the next level of growth and profitability:

  • Axxess Business Centers can help you create a comprehensive business plan to get you where you want to go. Once your plan is finished, Axxess can help you identify investors and negotiate the terms of your deal.
  • Business Plan Pro from Palo Alto Software is the leader in business planning software for startups and small businesses. The company offers a wealth of business planning advice plus 60 free sample business plans for companies ranging from auto repair shops to sports bars. You can download Business Plan Prowith 500-plus sample plans for only $99.95.
  • Visit Entrepreneur.com for road-tested tips and advice on everything from writing the executive summary and crunching the numbers to finding consultants and books to help you (entrepreneur.com/businessplan).

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