6 Resources for Writing and Refining Business Plans

A thorough business plan isn’t just vital for any small business seeking to attract outside funding. It also provides a living, breathing expression of the company’s strategy over the short and long term.

Creating a plan that makes sense for your company’s unique business model or focus can be challenging. The Small Business Administration offers a rudimentary resource for entrepreneurs who are just getting started. You should also consider using the SCORE business plans and financial statements template gallery.

But those two sites are mere table stakes: Other web resources go deeper than either the SBA or SCORE. Here are six sites that offer sample business plans or more elaborate ways for your team — and its outside advisers — to collaborate over time.

  1. SamplePlan ($14.95 for read-only versions of many plans; $24.95 for editable versions): As the name suggests, SamplePlan offers sample business plans for every sort of operation imaginable, from an insurance brokerage to a sporting goods store.
  2. Enloop (free for basic edition; $9.95 per month for up to three plans): This site was also founded by the entrepreneur behind SamplePlan. The small-business owner enters information through a series of templates, and then that information is used to create pro forma financial reports. The site offers a score that provides feedback on the plan’s chances of success or failure.
  3. Quipu (Free for two weeks; $19.99 per month after trial): The incQubator dashboard (pictured) is set up as a collaborative resource for sharing and editing business plans with internal and external advisers. It was built using the Google programming interfaces and can be integrated with services such as Concur and QuickBooks.
  4. LivePlan ($19.95 per month after week-long trial): You could call this the grandfather of all business plan software applications, developed by Palo Alto Software (the same company that created the $99 Business Plan Pro desktop application). The site — affiliated with Bplans.com, which offers free sample plans — combines plan templates and ongoing feedback mechanisms for dozens of different company models.
  5. BizPlan (starts at $29, depending on terms): This service was launched by the team behind the Go BIG Network, a startup community.
  6. Jian BizPlanBuilder Pro Online ($149.95 per year for two users; $30 per year for addition users): Jian includes step-by-step wizards for those with no business plan writing experience. Plan can be exported to Microsoft Word or PDF report formats.

What web-based business plan resources did we miss? Please suggest others that your peers might want to evaluate in the Comments section below.

About Heather Clancy

Heather Clancy is an award-winning journalist with a passion for transformative technology, small business and green business issues. Her articles have appeared in AllBusiness.com, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Heather is a regular contributor to CBSi, Forbes & GreenBusiness.com.
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