Creating a business plan

You may have a great idea for a new business, but ideas alone aren't enough. You need a plan. And, if you want to attract the investment dollars that are vital to turning your idea into a reality, you need your plan to be organized, complete, and compelling.

Writing a successful business plan can take months of research and revision — but there are tools available to simplify the process.

First, when writing a business plan, you want to consider what you know, and what you don't know, about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that define your proposed product or service in the current market. What will your business do? Who will the customer be? Who will be your biggest competitors? How will your business make money? From your proposed company's mission statement to its equipment and staff needs, all the details need to be examined and flushed out.

The following free sample business plan and tools can help you create a comprehensive, organized plan that details your business idea and communicates it clearly.

  • Create a business plan (Article)
    Learn key strategies for writing a successful business plan.
  • Business planning checklist (Template)
    Use the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) framework to highlight and assign the research necessary for writing your plan.
  • Five year plan (Template)
    Look ahead to your company's profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow projections.
  • Business plan (Template)
    Use this Word business plan template to create an organized plan that catches investor attention.
  • Balanced scorecard (Template)
    Track and measure your company's objectives against key financial, customer, internal business process, and growth metrics.
Applies to:
Excel 2003, Word 2003