I have had very good success using Jian software, and Business Planner Pro software. I have reviewed and adapted business plan templates from the Small Business Association at both the state and federal level. I consider the business plan to be one of the most important aspects of starting your own business. I have just completed my own 10th consecutive year of profitability and would like to share the following insight with you.
After you get done crashing all the numbers, making all your projections, and compiling the facts and statistics into a spreadsheet I believe you are left with a fundamental truth about business plans.
The most important purpose of your business plan is to prepare you to survive on your worst day in the market.
I want you to think about your business plan is your most important insurance policy against disaster. On good days at your business, you have customers, positive cash flow and a prospect for an unlimited future. But on your worst day, you might be starving at a loss of customers, indebtedness, in a lawsuit against you that threatens to take away all of your most valuable possessions. It's on that day that your good business plan is prepared to protect you and allow you to continue to reach for your vision.
Most of the literature you see on the web and in popular business books describe the glory and excitment of being a small business owner. And in truth it is an opportunity for you to realize your life long dream of financial independence and working for yourself. Very few of these books in my opinion do a good enough job to equip you to handle the harsh realities of life in the business world. It remains a fact that 90% of businesses fail in their first five years and the reason for that is an insufficient level of detail in the area of disaster prevention.
You would be well served to take the time to identify everything that you and some trusted advisors think could possibly go wrong, and develop some redundant contingency plans for addressing these issues. This would be a good place for you to solicit the advice of naysayers and people who believe it just can not be done. Take advantage of their pessimism and their willingness to find things wrong with your plan. If you can come up with answers for their insights and you stand a far better chance of surviving your first five years in business.
Best wishes to you and keep an eye out for the wolves!