Is there a free software available to help my clients create a professional business plan?
I would like to able to recommend a free software to my clients who need to create a professional business plan. Is there a free version you can recommend?
Check the SBA and score websites.
Even as a business coach, I utilize Business Plan Pro and free online formats. The key to a good business plan is to have an outline of the various points in the document, which is not rocket science, does not vary much from one type of business to another, and can be found for free. The key is how well the various elements are addressed -- not any type of fancy pre-written document or format.
My last theoretical point is that I distinguish between a business plan and a strategic plan. A business plan is for external eyes (e.g. for potential capital providers, etc.) and a strategic plan is more of an internal document, intended to be used by the business owner or leader, and the key constituents of the business; I sometimes call this the road map, particularly for business owners who struggle with having too much to do. Only with a well thought-out strategic plan (business road map) will one determine what the right things to do are and when to do them. The format I use there comes from the original Verne Harnish "One Page Strategic Plan" concept.
I never recommend using a software solution to write a business plan. Your plan is for you and is for your unique situation. Using Business Plan Pro or similar software makes it their solution not yours. In any case, you need to write it yourself.
Get help writing it. As Rosanna said, the US SBA is a great resource. SCORE will help of free up to a pint. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is generally an academic institution and will give you an academic solution, which is not always the best.If you are a veteran there are free resources to walk you through the process. The Veterans Business Resource Center (VBOC) for your area is one. My center (www.nevbrc.org) is another. All are free of charge.
There are 2 non-profit organizations in NH that have free tools and advice and training for small business people. Following are links:
SCORE has templates and webcasts as well as individual coaching. The other has educational material and sample outlines of business plans.
My first business plan was done using the SCORE template.
Yes, there are free versions on the web for virtually anything you need to create in regards to business, contracts, plans, accounting, etc...
For a first draft using these free versions are well worth it. As the business grows and a team of executives are hired and assembled a more professional look and feel may be desired but then again that will also depend on the skill set and talent of the team you hire around you.
Some very good free version for business plans I like are these two. Both are free and customization and easy to use.
I'm not familiar with free business plan software. Although I'm sure it's out there. I am familiar with business plan templates in PDF and MS Word compatible editors. Some Suggestions:
1. Write a one-page business plan with your companies mission, objectives, and approach.
(Use a business planner app for the following.)
2. Writing out the necessary steps to build the actual business.
3. Calculate the cost of services, licenses, certification and registration, setting up shop, etc.
4. Consider the cost of a marketing plan including website, memberships, article syndication and PR.
5. Detail the business process from the time you open the shop to closing. Consider the daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly process, as well as seasonal processes.
6. Now create a more concise and detailed day-to-day business process.
7. Now create a more detailed business plan.
8. Create your financials and executive summary
To help you with the business plan and building process you should consider investing in a Business Planner. That said, try the less expensive business planner web app such as Fimark's Winning Business Plans at http://businessplans.fimark.net/business_plan_organizer.html. It includes many of the resources needed to plan and build a business from the ground up including access to a complete business plan archive.
They can do a search for a business plan that will be similar to their type of business and examples will pop up. I wouldn't recommend using it in its entirety because loan officers can tell that those plans are from the internet, it's gives a notion that no effort was really put in it. I would just use the section titles of what is included in a business plan, I come up with its own content.
Definitely not, Davinder! At least not in the traditional sense!
If template BPs are used for investment propositions, the funders quickly recognise the template rather than see the underlying plan.
On the other hand, if the BP is to produce an operational plan to manage the business, it's much more complicated than a simple template can be expected to provide.
For large and small businesses I prefer to encourage my clients to think visually and work with a mind map, I've used a software version since 1993. This gives the opportunity to amend, correct, modify any number of times & export, when ready, into a preformatted document.
I also recommend clients to do their financial planning on a strict cashflow basis. I have a software tool that I developed for this, but it is potentially very complicated and complex for a client to play with, so I just get them to build and verify their assumptions (boy, can that be a nightmare!) & then I do the modelling. I finish the model by getting a reliable firm of Accountants to test it & produce the P&L & Balance Sheet for each period, converting the cashflow on correct Accounting accruals basis.
Feel free to email me if you want a pdf of the mind map outline and perhaps a simplified cashflow model to look at.
bill propertydevelopment funds com
Check out StratPad at www.stratpad.com. StratPad is a cloud-based business plan business plan application, meaning that you don't need to download any software to your computer. The free version will allow anyone to create a single business plan. The software is very easy to use, and is focused on getting users to think about their business strategy, what makes their product or service unique, and how they will defend their uniqueness against competitors. The application is supported with a slew of short, easy to understand videos (most under 5 minutes) that help to explain various business concepts, such as strategy, cash flow, financial statements, etc.
There are templates and explanations through the Small Business Administration. Every major city and county has a Small Business office to help. They're often associated with one of the community colleges.