If you are considering starting a micro-business, home-based business or beginning your life as a freelancer, you’ll quickly be up to your ears in ideas and your own questions. While the need for a plan may seem obvious to some, many small businesses begin their journey without one. Some may assume that a business plan is really only intended for larger, bricks and mortar businesses or bootstrapping startups looking to raise capital. Business plans, however, do more than just legitimize a business to banks or investors.
Flareapps.com small business tip #011Understand Why You Need a Business Plan
A business plan, above all else, clarifies your vision and gives you a roadmap to success. It forces you to explicitly state the who, what, when, where, why and how of business goals. By putting your vision on paper and answering questions that require a detailed response, you take your plan out of your germinating dreams and into the light of day where you may really see it for the first time.
See what Young Entrepreneur Council members answered when asked by Small Business Trends “What is one good reason to write a business plan even if you’re not going for a bank loan or venture capital?” One thing for certain, these successful entrepreneurs agree a plan is needed. Clarity was number one on the list.
Need another opinion? Venture coach and Entrepreneur.com writer, Stever Robbins, agrees that a business plan is much more than a fundraising tool:
It’s a tool for understanding how your business is put together. You can use it to monitor progress, hold yourself accountable and control the business’s fate — Stever Robbins
Read Robbins’ Why You Must Have a Business Plan.
Small Business Planning Resources
You don’t need to create a business plan from scratch. Thankfully, many have walked in your shoes and many business plan templates exist. You can download them and fill in the blanks or try an online business planner.
Here are some free business plan resources:
Flareapps.com small business tip #012View Example Business Plans
Need some ideas for what to include in your business plan? Check out these examples.
- Bplans business plan examples by industry may give you some insight into business planning.
- Myownbusiness.org business plan examples
Download some example business plans in MSWord format. See “Business Plan Samples”. While you are there, check out the non-profit’s free business courses including “Starting a Business”.
Flareapps.com small business tip #013Download Free Business Plan Templates
Use or adapt one these free business plan templates.
- Business plan and financial templates from Score.org
Score knows a thing or two about starting a business. This non-profit helps businesses get started by providing education and mentorship. Not only is Score a great resource for planning templates, the organization has 360 chapters across the U.S.A that matches entrepreneurs with local volunteer mentors.
- The One Page Business Plan
Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, offers The One-Page Business Plan as PDF in addition to other quick guides.
Flareapps.com small business tip #014Create a Free Online Business Plan
If you want to create a business plan and like the idea of an online tool that generates a spiffy plan for you, check out these free online business planners.
- SBA business plan creation tool
Create an account at U.S. Small Business Administration and you get free access to the business planning tool. Access the plan online any time, update and export as PDF. Be aware that the plan is saved for six months after your last login. Make sure you download it just in case.
- Enloop free online business plan creator
The free version of Enloop’s online business plan lets you create one business plan with a 3-year financial forecast. You can export the plan as PDF.
- FormSwift free online business plan creator
This simple application walks you through creating sections of your plan. You have to create a free account to save and export your plan.
Happy planning from Flare accounting!