If you have a killer idea for a start-up, but lack the time, resources and budget to develop a business plan, a business plan-generating app can help you get your plan on paper and, ideally, off the ground.
A number of apps simplify the often tedious, complicated process of crafting a thorough bank- and investor-ready business plan.
You provide the information, they organise it into a plan, and hopefully soon you’ll be in business.
Here’s a look at three apps that can help get your business plan rolling:
This is an all-in-one web app that walks users through every step of creating a traditional business plan.
Here’s how it works: Based on the data you enter into the app, Enloop automatically generates sales, profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheet projections for you, complete with explanatory graphs and other compelling visual elements.
Enloop also provides standard, yet customisable business plan text for each section of your plan, including portions focused on key company information and financial data.
Enloop’s Free & Easy option includes a single custom business plan packaged in a clean, professionally formatted PDF file that you can download, print and share.
More fully featured paid versions range from $9.95 a month to $39.95 a month and allow you to make multiple business plans. Enloop is only web-based and not yet available for mobile devices.
Alex Glassey, who designed this iPad-only app, describes it as “a strategic-planning app that helps entrepreneurs with the thinking and decision-making process.”
StratPad can be a smart choice for people who are writing their first-ever business plan. It is packed with several free how-to tools for beginners, including a 58-page business strategy tutorial, view-on-demand training videos, email-based customer service, and more.
A free basic StratPad edition is available for students. Paid, one-time fee plans range from $9.99 to $54.99. The more you pay, the more advanced business plan options you get.
The easy-to-use app guides users through a series of simple questions and prompts. Your answers are used to develop a summary business plan, complete with revenue projections and full-colour graphs and charts.
3. Business Plan Premier
This $7.99 iPad app does double-duty for users who are eager to have their business plan backed fast.
Not only does Business Plan Premier help you organise and write your business plan at an extremely detailed level, it also enables you to present your finished plan to more than 3 000 high net worth potential investors, who are also members of investment research firm Ben Stein & Accredited Members Inc.
Business Plan Premier leads you through writing your prospective company’s vision and mission statements, product descriptions and marketing plans.
You can also use it to complete competitive and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, outline your management scheme, identify your start-up expenses, define your target market and more depending on your needs.
Your completed business plan is exported as a Microsoft Word document that you can edit, print, email or upload to Dropbox. Business Plan Lite is the free (but much less functional) version of the app.
Sample Business Plans: Still stuck? Click here to view over 100 industry-specific, free sample business plans.
Why Your Business Beliefs Are More Important Than Your Business Plan
Your business plan will change. Your business beliefs should lead you to long-term success.
Do not spend more time working on your business plan than you do actually working on your business. A business plan is important, and you should take the time to make one. Just know that your beliefs about business will have a much greater impact on your success than what you put on paper.
I know this because I’ve coached dozens of entrepreneurs and business owners from the very beginnings of their businesses. I’ve watched some of them grow their businesses all the way to six-, seven- and even eight-figure earnings, even when their initial idea looked shaky on paper.
I’ve watched others struggle for years before giving up, even though their ideas looked foolproof on paper.
The short explanation here is that what you put on paper for a business plan will never match reality. Never. As soon as you start selling to and working with real people, things change. There’s a certain amount of chaos. However, there is a way to harness that chaos and use it to build your empire, which is what I’m here to show you today.
Innovation is moving faster than ever before
In the next five to 10 years, most of the jobs that exist today will be replaced by AI. For entrepreneurs, that means your business operations will be cheaper and more reliable than ever before. However, it also means that your daily operations will look completely different than what they look like today.
Plus, many of these technologies will have unintended consequences. They’re going to create problems that we’ve never had to deal with before (such as high unemployment).
I don’t say any of that to scare you. In fact, I’m extremely optimistic about the future, and you should be, too. My point is that none of us can afford to get stuck on how we do business today.
If your idea of success is to find the next “hack” or “quick fix,” then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Those hacks and quick fixes are going to become outdated almost as soon as they appear.
So, here’s what you need to do instead: Become obsessed with the principles of wealth and success, not just the delivery system. Study the entrepreneurs and the businesses you admire most and look for the principles that guided their decisions.
Focus on principles, not quick hacks
The most successful entrepreneurs on the planet are the ones that put in decades of hard work to build their empires. That means that they kept their businesses growing even in times of massive uncertainty, loss and change. How?
It comes back to their business beliefs, which is another way of saying principles. If your business beliefs are solid, you will quickly find a way to create new solutions when the old systems for doing business break down. For a great example of this, look at Ray Dalio. He’s been listed as one of the 100 wealthiest people in the world, and he even wrote a book called Principles.
He’s also the founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates, which has a fund called the Pure Alpha fund that only lost money three times in the last 20 years. Keep in mind, that includes the 2008 housing crisis, which was the worst economic downturn in recent history. When most people were suffering financial disaster, Dalio and others like him kept their empires growing.
Again, it goes back to beliefs, aka principles. One of Dalio’s core beliefs was that he could design an investment portfolio that would remain safe and keep growing under any economic season. Through years of researching and testing, he created the All Seasons portfolio and accomplished just that. And he accomplished that because he was looking for the principles that would keep his money growing over the long term instead of get-rich-quick tricks and hacks.
Another great example is Google. Google’s mission statement is “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” That’s not a hack or a get-rich-quick scheme.
That’s a guiding belief in what’s possible. It’s a huge idea that serves the needs of people all over the world. That’s what has allowed Google to create billion-dollar solutions and rewrite how much of the world operates today.
Beliefs can make you mentally strong — or weak
Let’s bring this back down to a personal level. If you believe that you have the creativity, focus and discipline to solve any problem that comes up in your business, then that will come true. On the other hand, if you believe there’s no room left for your ideas, or that you’ll never be able to lead other people toward your vision, that will also come true.
With that in mind, let me offer you a set of beliefs that have helped me succeed in business. These are not beliefs I pulled out of thin air. These are beliefs I’ve seen in action with dozens of other successful entrepreneurs.
I’ve tested them out in my own life and found that they each helped my businesses grow faster. I encourage you to read these aloud to yourself until they become habits in your own thinking.
- Money is attracted to decisiveness, action-taking and speed.
- I can learn whatever new skills I need to succeed and keep my business on the cutting edge.
- I can earn the respect and cooperation of anyone whose help I need.
Now, you might be wondering if I’m preaching some kind of woo-woo, “law of attraction” stuff here. I’m not. If you read those beliefs again carefully, you’ll see that they emphasize taking action. They emphasize going above and beyond what most people are willing to do.
The whole point of this is to prime yourself to want to take these actions even when they are uncomfortable. You will do this because you believe that the rewards will come. No, the rewards will not come immediately. Yes, the reality will be a long and difficult road.
Related: The Power of Dominant Thought
That’s precisely why you need deeply held, empowering beliefs to push you forward even when your plan falls apart. Focus on developing your core beliefs, and you will have the power to overcome any challenge on the path to empire.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Top 9 Business Plan Resources
Want to write a business plan but don’t know where to start? Find the top 10 business plan resources here.
A business plan is essential at every stage of your business. By writing a business plan you are giving potential funders a reason to invest in you and you are giving yourself a reference throughout your business journey.
You should be referring to your business plan at regular intervals to make sure that you are still on the right track or to update it in order to grow your business.
Writing a business plan need not be confusing or difficult because of all the available resources on the web. Entrepreneur lists the top nine business plan resources below to help you get started.
Entrepreneur Magazine SA offers advice on every area of writing a business plan
Entrepreneur Magazine being the ultimate “how to” guide for starting and growing a business offers a helping hand to anyone looking to create a business plan.
This section goes into detail on the format to follow and also offers sample plans for you to use as a template. You can also read through articles offering expert advice and do’s and don’t of business plans.
A creative, visual map for success.
The Right Brain Business Plan offers readers a fun and accessible way to creating their business plan and reaching their financial goals.
This book is ideal for the creative entrepreneur, designer, wellness professional, writer or photographer.
With the use of worksheets and step by step instructions, you will find that the business plan process is easier than you thought.
A visual guide to writing a business plan.
Entrepreneur Magazine has an in-depth business plan template that you can easily download and use as a detailed guideline when writing your business plan.
You can download this template for free and start creating the various sections of your business plan so that in the end you have a detailed business concept that is attractive to potential investors.
Practical advice from business plan experts.
BPlans was founded by Tim Berry, a renowned business planning authority, and their website caters to entrepreneurs and business owners who need sample business plans as well as advice for writing a business plan when starting or growing their companies.
This website offers free as well as paid for services for you to choose from depending on your needs.
Complete guide to business plan contents.
There are 10 elements or sections that need to be included in a business plan and this article from Entrepreneur Magazine goes into detail on each.
Related: Free Sample Business Plans
Their format guide will ensure that your business plan covers everything that it needs to for your own use as well as to present to potential financiers.
A useful handbook for building the ideal business model.
Alexander Osterwalder’s has created a guide to building a detailed business model that any start-up will find useful.
You can purchase the full book if your decide that you would like further information on his process and thinking around business models.
Top advice from finance institutions and entrepreneurial experts.
Renowned experts such as Martin Feinstein of Enablis, Allon Raiz of Raizcorp, Keet van Zyl of HBD Venture Capital and Andre Deiderichs of Old Mutual all give their opinions and top tips for writing a business plan by taking into account the do’s and don’t s and what potential investors will be looking out for.
Related: Free Business Plan Template Download
If you are working on a marketing plan for your company, MPlans can assist.
Because writing a marketing plan is just as important as your business plan, it’s important to take the time to understand the various elements.
MPlans offers a range of free marketing plans that you can use as a template to create yours. They also have marketing software that you can purchase if you want to create a totally unique plan.
Tim Berry is the owner of Palo Alto Software, a co-founder of Borland International, and a well known expert in business planning.
Entrepreneur Magazine’s website gives you free access to his articles and advice so that you have all the knowledge you need when writing or modifying your business plan.
Related: 21 Free Sample Business Plans
Business Plan Examples To Get You Going
It’s time to get specific and personalise your business plan.
The last thing an entrepreneur needs is unwanted expenses, which is why it’s so important to cover all your bases right at the beginning.
Now that you have the basics of your business plan down, it’s time to take it up a notch. Every industry is different, which means your plan needs to be too.
When you write your business plan and develop your model, you need to start thinking about the extras you’ll need to get your dream business up and running. This can be anything from the premises and equipment to the specific staff that you’ll need to hire.
Industry Specific Business Plan Examples
Investors want details so including the right information in your business plan could mean the difference between a yes and a no. Below are some basics that you might want to include when writing your business plan.
1. Coffee Shop Business Plan
One of the most important success factors in launching a profitable coffee shop will be your chosen location. It’s vital that you attract high traffic and that your customers will find your shop to be convenient and appealing.
Next, decide who your target market is and if the area that you will be running your store in has the right people present.
Finally, how will your store operate? Refer to number of employees, the hours they will work and where you’ll be sourcing your beans and equipment.
Here’s a sample of a coffee shop business plan.
2. Event Planning Business Plan
Events can be quite a broad category so dedicate a place in your plan to provide insights into your specific products and services as well as how you will run through an event from start to finish.
You must decide whether you will be targeting individuals (planning weddings, baby showers and private parties) or corporate clients (for instance focusing on product launches, team building, etc).
Depending on the type of events you’ll be organising you’ll need to take equipment and supplies into consideration and incorporate it into your start-up expenses. If you’re able to obtain deposits from clients upfront, an events business can be relatively inexpensive to get up off the ground.
Here’s a sample of an events planning business plan.
- Steps for Starting an Events Business.
- A Wedding Made in Heaven: How Aleit Swanepoel Started His Events Planning Business With No Funding.
3. General Freight Trucking Business Plan
Help your trucking business plan stand out by including information on the market you are entering into and how you aim to be different to your competitors.
Next you can go a little deeper into detail about your services and how you will operate, you might want to mention if this will be an owner-operated business or if you will be employing drivers.
Since you need trucks to generate profits, this should naturally be included in your plan. Do you already have trucks? And if not, how much funding will you require to build your fleet?
Here’s an example of a trucking business plan.
4. Catering Business Plan
Food and cooking might be your passion but you’ll have to specialise in a specific type of catering to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Talk about the type of food you will be supplying as well as the market you’ll be targeting (Private consumers, corporate sector or weddings).
Explain where you’ll be working from, how much space you will need and if you already have a licence to supply meals, if you don’t you can apply at your local city council.
Your equipment will be one of the most important aspects of your business so if you still need to purchase it include it in your start-up expenses list.
View a sample catering business plan here.
- Rules and Regulations for Starting a Catering Business at Home.
- Catering Associations and Organisation in South Africa.
5. Internet Café Business Plan
In order for an internet café to be profitable and to instil confidence in investors, you’ll need to be in the right spot, which means loads of foot traffic. Explain why the location you have chosen would be a good fit and what your rental costs will be.
Next, decide who your internet service provider will be and what it’s going to cost you to provide internet access to your customers, this will also be helpful when you create your price lists.
Where will you be buying your computers, accessories and furniture from and how much will this set you back? This is one business where insurance is very important so don’t leave it too late.
You can view a sample internet café business plan here.
6. Real Estate Business Plan
Starting a real estate business doesn’t require as much equipment; inventory and assets as other start-ups but you will need a few basics to get you going such as a cellphone, computer and a car. If these are items that you still need to purchase then include them in your expenses list.
Make sure that your marketing plan is well thought out and detailed as this is going to be essential for bringing in new business. What makes you different from your competition, how will you bring this across in your marketing messages and what mediums will you use.
Your market is another aspect that you’ll want to think about as there are many different types of home buyers. (First time buyers, rentals, high-end homes and businesses looking for office space)
You can view a real estate business plan example here.
- Find Out How to Conduct a Competitor Analysis With this Example.
- How to Become a Registered Estate Agent.
7. Car Wash Business Plan
Running a car wash requires attention to detail and tends to be quite fast paced so pay attention to your operations plan by explaining how you will run things on a daily basis and who will be helping you.
There are a number of car wash options available for you to choose from and each of them requires slightly different machinery and supplies.
If you would prefer not to have a standard car wash then you can choose to go the mobile route, remember to include the cost of your equipment in your expenses list.
Investors will want to know where you plan to setup shop as this type of business needs a prime location, so include these details in your business plan. When you put your financials together remember to include staff wages in order to provide investors with accurate projections.
You can view a sample car wash business plan here.
8. Travel Agency Business Plan
A travel agency is a business you can start at home or in a shopping centre depending on how big your team is and the funds that you have available to you.
Since travelling involves many different elements it would be best to decide what you would like to specialise in. Will you be planning local or international holidays and how much of the holiday would you be willing to arrange?
You could offer holiday packages, flights, car rentals, cruises and/or accommodation bookings so include your service offering in your business plan.
Being able to source travel discounts and specials will require you to partner with bigger brand and including these in your business plan might give your start-up more weight in the eyes of investors.
Look at who your competitors are as well as the customers you want to target to decide what your differentiating factor will be and how you can better serve the needs of your market. Marketing and branding in the form of a website and brochures is essential for this type of business so include these expenses in your plan.
You can view a travel agency business plan here.
- 7 Ways Your Business Card Can Be Your Best Marketing Tool.
- (Video) Tips for Becoming a Travel Agent from Home.
9. Hair and Beauty Salon Business Plan
In the hair and beauty sector, location and service will determine your success so ensure that you have the ideal spot picked out. The store that you decide on should have a high amount of foot traffic as this is a marketing tactic all on its own, especially if you have great branding.
Decide what you will be specialising in, you can decide to just concentrate on hair, offer beauty treatments and massages or you could decide on a hair, nails and makeup offering. Deciding on your specialisation will in turn allow you to add the required equipment and supplies to your expenses list.
Once you research the competitors in your area you can set your pricing and find a way to differentiate yourself from them. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of pricing, it could be your exceptional service or the extras that you offer your customers during their visit.
View the sample hair and beauty business plan here.
10. Agriculture Business Plan
A farming business requires a strategy. When you write your business plan gather as much information as possible so that you can explain where you would fit into the market in terms of supply and demand. Your next biggest consideration is going to be the land you will use for farming.
Provide a map and details on the land you have secured so that there is an idea of the layout. No matter what type of farming you decide to pursue it will require you to buy equipment, livestock, watering systems and/or fixed improvements so include these in your start-up expense list.
Familiarise yourself with government legislation surrounding your particular channel of agriculture as this will have an impact on the how you fund and structure your business to comply with regulations. Risk management and insurance must also be factored into your planning.
- How to Put Your Farming Business Plan Together.
- Steps for Starting a Farming Business.
- How to Start a Poultry Farm.
11. Bakery Business Plan
A bakery is a business that can be started at home depending on what your offering will be. If baking cakes and smaller goods is not what you want to do then you will need to start by finding the right size store.
If you won’t be a wholesale bakery and will be targeting everyday consumers then finding a store in a busy location is very important. Wherever you decide to setup, add these details to your business plan and include the costs thereof.
Larger bakeries need industrial equipment, which can be quite costly so include these expenses so that investors know how your funds will be spent. Next, concentrate on your operations plan as well as your staff requirements.
How will the bakery run on a daily basis, what hours will your employees work and how much will you be paying them. If you are going the smaller, home-based route you might want to give some extra thought to your marketing strategy and how you will stand out from larger competitors in your field.
You can view an example of a bakery business plan here.
- Steps for Starting a Bakery.
- Bakery Associations, Equipment and Supplier Listings.
- Bread Euphoria Café Success Story.
12. Construction Business Plan
Starting a construction company usually requires quite a large amount of capital so the finances in your business plan need to be clear and detailed. Whether your start-up is going to be small or if you are aiming for the big leagues you are going to require a lot of man power as well as large machinery and equipment.
Get your costing together for the above so that you can provide investors with accurate projections. Indicate how involved you are going to be in the various stages of the construction process. Are you going to be assisting from the design stage upwards or will you just be involved in the actual construction process.
Thoroughly research your market as well as your competitors in order to give investors a clear idea of where you stand and the growth that can be expected.
You can view a construction business plan sample here.
Need More Business Plan Examples?
If you didn’t find the sample business plan that you needed in the above list you can find a more comprehensive list here.
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