The 5 Best Tools to Write a Business Plan

Last Updated on June 22, 2024 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

When you start a business, it’s crucial to set clear, realistic goals and think about how you will achieve them. You also need to research the market and your competition, define your target audience, and create a unique value proposition (UVP). That’s where a business plan comes in.

This document serves as a roadmap to success, making it easier to accomplish your objectives. It can also help you secure funding, uncover new opportunities, and mitigate risks, such as building a product no one wants. Think of it as an action plan for your business.

Generally, it’s best to write a business plan before launching your venture. So without further ado, here’s how to get started.

Why Does Every Business Need a Business Plan?

A business plan is a living document that outlines each stage of starting and running a company. It highlights your mission and values, as well as your goals and the steps needed to accomplish them.

According to CB Insights, 38% of startups fail because they run out of money. More than one-third go out of business because their products don’t sell, and 20% get outcompeted.

With a business plan, you can anticipate and avoid these pitfalls and increase your chances of success. What’s more, companies that plan experience 30% faster growth and better business performance than those without a plan. 

For example, market research—an essential component of business planning—can help you find the right customers and, hence, increase sales. You may also realize there’s no market for your products, in which case you can step back and chase other opportunities.

Every market and business is unique, and what works for one company may not work for another. A sound business plan will give you clarity and a sense of direction, leading to better decision-making.

What to Include in a Business Plan

There are no hard rules on how to write a business plan. This document can be as short as two or three pages or as long as 12-20 pages and will look different from one company to the next.

No matter its length or format, it should cover the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Products and services
  • Unique value proposition
  • Short- and long-term goals
  • Organization and management
  • Market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Sales and marketing strategy
  • Financial projections
  • Funding requirements
  • Appendices (additional data, credit histories, etc.)

The executive summary provides a brief overview of your business, its UVP and goals. The company description goes into detail about these aspects and the problem(s) your product or service can solve.

Moving forward, you’ll focus on each aspect of the business, from its positioning in the market to funding requirements.

However, this format isn’t set in stone. For example, a feasibility business plan will focus on one product or service to assess its validity.

By comparison, internal business plans revolve around organizational alignment. An operational plan, on the other hand, defines the steps you need to take on a weekly or daily basis to accomplish your goals.

Use These Tools to Craft a Compelling Business Plan 

Writing a business plan is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Each idea leads to the next, filling the gaps to bring your vision to life.

The challenge lies in figuring out where each piece fits in. For example, how does the competitive landscape impact your chances of success? And how does it relate to product pricing, marketing, customer demand, or other aspects?

The right tools can help you make sense of all this data and craft a compelling business plan. Here are our favorite picks.

  1. Sweet Process

Use this cloud-based documentation tool to gather all your files in one place, create and share policies, or manage tasks effortlessly. Business planning involves extensive paperwork, making it difficult to keep track of everything. With Sweet Process, you can store, organize, and share business documents effortlessly.

Sweet Process also enables users to edit images, print documents, and collaborate with others in real-time. For example, you can add graphs or product videos to your business plan while gathering data from other team members. You can improve the lettering of these graphs by finding perfect free procreate brushes at Brush Galaxy. Once your company is up and running, you can use Sweet Process to document your policies, workflows, and procedures.

  1. SCORE Business Planning Templates

SCORE offers customizable business plan templates for startups and established companies. Pick one, download it to your computer, and then fill it out with your company’s data. It’s that simple.

Each template contains instructions, real-world examples, and guiding questions. If, say, you’re not sure how to formulate your mission statement, go to that respective section and see the examples provided.

The templates from SCORE also include worksheets, tables, and other helpful tools for planning things out. Plus, they have a user-friendly format and cover just about any aspect you can think of.

  1. Canva

Canva isn’t just for design work. It actually offers quite a few tools for starting and running a business, including SWOT analysis templates.

This acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Companies can conduct a SWOT analysis to identify the factors influencing their success. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, whereas opportunities and threats come from the outside.

With Canva, you can generate SWOT charts, brainstorm ideas, and create engaging graphics. Include this information in your business plan to make it more impactful and visually appealing.

  1. D&B Hoovers

As discussed earlier, any business plan should include a competitive analysis. That means you must gather data on other companies in your industry to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies.

One way to get this information is to use a B2B database. For example, D&B Hoovers provides data on over 500 million companies worldwide, including public, private, and non-profit organizations.

With just a few clicks, you can see a company’s size, number of employees, SEC filings, sales volume, and other figures. This data can help you determine where you stand against your competitors, what they do well, and what you could do better.

  1. LivePlan

LivePlan features over 550 sample business plans and other tools, such as an AI-powered assistant. Users can also get help via live chat or attend webinars for further insights.

The platform is intuitive and easy to use, offering everything you need to write a business plan. Your only job is to bring in data and fill out the templates provided.

Users can choose from two subscription plans at different price points. The premium one includes access to cutting-edge tools for generating “What if” scenarios, making financial forecasts, and setting business milestones.

Write a Business Plan That Drives Results 

Business planning is both an art and a science and often takes months of research. If done right, it can pave your way to success and help you avoid costly mistakes.

For starters, make sure you have access to accurate data. Next, use a business plan template to organize your ideas. Manage your documents with Sweet Process, and turn to a design tool like Canva to create diagrams, graphics, or infographics.

Note that your work doesn’t stop here. Your business plan is a living document, and you’ll need to review and update it as your company grows.

Get Your Free Systemization Checklist

Systemize Checklist
5 Essential Steps To Getting a Task Out of Your Head and Into a System So You Can Scale and Grow Your Business!
Stop being the bottleneck in your company

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *