Just like an actor wouldn’t get on stage without a script, an entrepreneur shouldn’t start a business without a plan. Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned founder, creating a roadmap for the next three to five years is absolutely imperative in order to test the feasibility and further the success of a venture. Without a business plan, it will be extremely difficult to catch the attention of investors or communicate a clear message to any employees or supporters.
If you’re lost on where to start with this essential step of launching a business, there are a number of resources dedicated to helping you write a business plan that won’t let you down.
Note: Business planning software can help you write a professional business plan that will lead you to success.
Best Business Plan Resources
There are several resources that will guide you through the business plan writing process. Continue scrolling or use our jump-ahead links to find the right resource for you.
Additionally, if you've decided you want to use a business plan software, here’s an exclusive 25% off LivePlan promo code offered to our readers.
Best Resources That Will Help You Write a Business Plan
1. How to Start an LLC’s Free Business Plan Generator
As it turns out, you can access brilliant resources that will help you make a killer plan from the comfort of your own home. How to Start an LLC has a free online business plan generator that creates a step-by-step guide tailored to you and your business.
Simply go through each section of the questionnaire, answering the questions about the logistics and goals of your company. If you create an account, you can fill everything in at your own pace and, once completed, download a PDF that you can share with investors, mentors, and more. They’ll certainly prefer that to a jumbled Word Doc.
For a higher-level business plan, you can use LivePlan’s paid service, which works for any business at any stage of development. Again, you’ll have to start by answering a few simple questions about your business. Then, LivePlan will generate a document outlining your pitch and later, with your customization and input, a completed business strategy following the traditional structure of chapters and sections (there is optional pizzaz).
LivePlan sorts out everything from creating a budget forecast to weighing up the competition. If you want the stress taken off your hands and don’t mind paying $11.66 per month for a year’s access to the program, LivePlan is the planning option for you.
3. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA offers an extremely detailed breakdown of how to write a good business plan online for no cost, which is useful for entrepreneurs who want more control over the layout and content of their plans without paying a fee. The SBA website takes you step-by-step through the different requirements for the plan — from the executive summary to the market analysis to the funding request.
There are also different examples of business plans online following the two distinct styles the SBA describes, “Traditional Business Plan” and “Lean Startup Plan,” available as templates or reference materials. If you’re stuck or want in-person advice, you can make a free business counseling appointment online with an SBA expert.
SCORE — in partnership with SBA — also has its own independent online business planning resources. The key offering is a step-by-step business template that entrepreneurs can use to lay the groundwork for their own companies.
As writing a business plan can often be overwhelming and complicated, the template breaks up the task into easy-to-follow sections with prompting questions and fillable worksheets. Once you’ve completed the questions and worksheets, you’ll have a full business plan which you can run by one of SCORE’s mentors by making an appointment online.
Last but not least, Bplans hosts the largest online collection of free sample business plans, totaling over 500. If you’re not content with any of the other styles on this list, you’ll almost certainly find one that suits your fancy among this myriad of options. The plans are broken apart by categories. For example, business plans for Restaurants, Cafes, and Bakeries; Medical and Health Care; Retail and Online Stores; and Services.
To create your plan, select one of the templates (Bplans recommends using one from a similar type of company) and simply use the plan as a guide. Keep in mind the fact that every small business and startup is unique, so you won’t gain much from copying a template word for word.
Bplans also emphasizes the fact that a business plan should be more than just a normal document. “Think about business planning as something you do often, rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business,” reads the website. “It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.”