If you are looking for a small business plan template and some guidelines on how to use it, there are some excellent resources available.
(I posted about this in 2007: thought that after five years it was time for an update.)
The Importance of Business Planning
I’d love to be able to say I had a detailed plan when I started my own business years ago. But I didn’t.
It’s a bit embarrassing to say now but my recollection is that I put more time and energy into buying a computer, printer and so on, and getting my business cards designed and printed, than I did into systematic planning.
But it wasn’t long before I realized that if I wanted to have a successful, sustainable business I needed to do some planning.
And it couldn’t be too hard, could it? After all, before I went into business for myself I’d planned and implemented multi-million dollar projects.
But I soon realized planning a small, home based business was a different process, for which I was not really well-prepared.
I bought books
In those days, before our contemporary ability to find just about anything on the web, my default action when I needed to know something was that I would go and find some books, buy them, study and apply.
So I bought a couple of books on creating business plans.
But not as well as I’d have liked.
What I realize now is that I was looking for a one-size-fits-all solution.
It doesn’t exist.
All our businesses are different in various ways.
We are all different.
And whatever process of business planning we use needs to reflect that.
Guidelines and templates can help
They can help us organize our thoughts and the ambitions and dreams we have for our business.
And help us to get real about what resources we have and need to achieve those ambitions and dreams.
There are some really good templates and related documents available – free
Here are some of the free small business planning resources, including templates, that I’ve found: first four are from government (your tax dollars at work!).
The US Small Business Administration ( SBA )
Canada’s Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations ( CBDC )
Online Business Plan
Australia’s business.gov.au – online business resources from Federal Government
UK’s Business Link – government online resource for businesses
New England Business Service Inc. (NEBS) – commercial enterprise but the template below is free
This is a really straightforward template. But it is very important to note that, in order to save your data for later use, you must copy it and enter it into your own word processing program, or save your online data as an html document. Nothing you write online will be stored for you online for later access: if you fail to copy your data, you will lose it.
Found any other good resources for small business planning? If so, I hope you will share them here (no spam, please).
Image credit: Victor1588, Flickr – CC BY 2.0