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Monthly Archives: December 2016

7 Free Business Plan Templates for Startups

Bplans.com, known as the authority on business plans, offers a free Word business plan template, complete with instructions and a table of contents. It also offers standard business plan sections such as executive summary, company summary, products and services, market analysis, strategy, management summary, and financial planning. Once you register, you will be able to download the materials and choose from a wide range of businesses in different industries in which to base your plan. Whether your business is online, service-based, or a food establishment, Bplan’s Word business plan templates are comprehensive and are a great option for beginners and new business owners.

Entrepreneur.com provides business tools, with a collection of business plans free in PDF, PowerPoint and Word. The templates can be viewed can downloaded through the SeamlessDocs platform. The site includes a template for a variety of specific business types, a business plan model that outlines the different parts of a business plan, and customizable templates that allow users to add their logos and business information. If you need a guide to writing a business plan, Entrepreneur.com also provides a download for that.

This step-by-step business plan builder, offered by Law Depot, covers structure, product marketing, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), operations, and details specific to your business in their templates. Once the template is complete, you can download and print. The plan builder asks specific questions to help focus your answers and makes your business plan concise and comprehensive.

MOBI, or My Own Business Institute, is part of Santa Clara University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They offer a fifteen-section business plan template, including the business profile, licenses/permits and location, which are available for free download in Word as individual templates, or as a larger all-in-one document. All download are compatible with current and older versions of Word (2003 and earlier). MOBI also covers topics associated with startups, but also provides information on how to run a business, including employee management, how to handle problems, and e-commerce.

Office Depot’s Business Resource Center contains free business plan samplesfor retailers, manufacturers and service providers. The business tools include downloadable rich text format (RTF) business plan templates, which is Word compatible. Excel business plan financials are also available for manufacturers and service providers, while the retailer business plan template is complete with forecasting and financial tables, but this requires Microsoft Word version 6.0 or later.

Catering to businesses owned by women, Oprah.com’s free one-page business plan templates can be used by anyone who wants to start a business. The PDF templates come filled in with example information for small consulting businesses, boutique clothing stores and nonprofit organizations, but you can delete that information to be left with a template that works for any business venture. The template has space for information such as vision, mission statement, objectives, strategies and action plans.

When you create a free business plan with Rocket Lawyer, you get the advantage of an attorney’s advice to make sure your document is legally sound. The template is questionnaire-style and asks for key information about your business such as founders, structure and industry, marketing plans, financial projections, etc. Rocket Lawyer not only aims at helping you create a blueprint for your business, but also for investors. Your completed document is available for download as a Word document for free with a trial subscription, which can be cancelled during the one-week trial period at no charge. The document is $10 on its own without a subscription.

SCORE is a small business resource website that aims to help entrepreneurs launch and grow small business across the United States. Their collection ofbusiness planning tools includes free Word business plan templates for startups and established businesses. They also provide a sales forecasting template, competitive analysis charts to determine your business’ strengths and weaknesses, and financial planning templates such as startup expenses, profit and loss projections, and financial statements. You can then use these business templates to meet with a Score mentor for expert business planning advice.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers an online business plan template and guide to help you build your business plan, step by step. Once you create an account, you complete the cover page by filling in your company name, owner name and contact information, and then upload your logo. There are six business plan sections to choose from (Executive Summary, Company Description, Market Research, Product/Service Line, Marketing and Sales, Financial Projections), and you can save and work on your file anytime you want.

Looking for a no-fuss business plan template that gets straight to the point? The $100 Startup, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller, offers the One-Page Business Plan, a simple form that asks several questions you can quickly answer to get up and running.  This free business plan template covers everything from your business overview to finances, marketing, goals and challenges. Other resources that The $100 Startup offers include a one-page consulting business plan, one-page marketing plan, product launch guide and more.

2 Business Plan to Start Your Business

First things first

Crafting a business plan doesn’t just help you create a blueprint of your business goals and expectations, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on how you’re going to meet those objectives. Before you jump into writing your business plan, there are several things you can do to better create a business plan that best sets your company up for success.

1. Be honest with yourself

According to Hull, entrepreneurs need be realistic when it comes to planning their businesses. This means addressing both opportunities and challenges your business might face, for instance, by identifying the best and worst case scenarios. “If you’ve got a strong idea, let it stand on its merit,” he wrote.

2. Be concise

A business plan should get straight to the point. You should avoid any fillers and get rid of any fluff. “Even if it sounds nice, fluff gets you nowhere and wastes space. Plus, no investors want to read a long business plan,” Hull wrote.

3. Be creative

Just because a business plan shows you’re serious about your business doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. One way to make your business plan more entertaining — and thus grab more attention and be easier to follow — is to add a creative element.

“Whenever possible, and without overdoing it, use visuals in your business plan. Graphs, charts, and images can help bring your concept to life. Plus, it breaks up the text and helps a plan flow better,” Hull wrote.

Simple business plan template

Generally, there are two types of business plans: one-page business plans and comprehensive business plans. If you have a more complex business that needs to hash out market analysis, financials and other strategic details, read ahead for expert advice on how to create a comprehensive business plan.

For other businesses, however, particularly those that just have an idea they want to try out or are not quite ready to delve into the details, a one-page business plan will do the job.

A one-page business plan has everything you need to concisely capture your business and what it will take to run it, all in a single page. The idea is to create a business plan as quickly as possible, so you can spend the rest of your time actually launching your company.

 

Extra Service for Small Business Bank Loan

As small businesses hire more employees, a bank-offered payroll service may simplify bookkeeping for busy small business owners.

“If you don’t quite have the budget for an independent bookkeeper, many financial institutions offer access to payroll software or services to help you get things done,” said Jennifer Martin, small business coach and owner ofZest Business Consulting.

Payroll services are also offered by independent payroll companies. Before signing up for the service through your own financial institution, compare the features of bank-offered programs against those offered by outside companies,advised Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit, an online credit resource for small businesses.

One new feature popping up in banking packages is fraud insurance coverage.

“Fraud insurance is provided by the lending institution to prevent any loss in the business checking account because of fraudulent transactions,” Arora said.

Arora explained that fraud insurance is important for business checking accounts in which more than one person has access to the account, especially when the accounts normally have multiple transactions on a daily basis.

If you’ve been thinking about offering your employees retirement plans such as 401(k) plans or pensions, look beyond your insurance agent to your bank, Martin said. Increasingly, banks are offering retirement-account setup and maintenance as a bonus feature for their business customers. This is an attractive incentive when hiring employees.

“Retirement benefits can be a great way for you to more deeply invest in your staff and may be the difference between a great job applicant choosing you over your competition,” Martin told Business News Daily.

If you plan to offer health insurance to your staff, using your own bank to make deposits into a health savings account for employees simplifies the process.  You may even save a little money by doing this.

“Some employers will save money on their payroll taxes as a result of making deposits directly to an employee HSA account, 401(k) or supplemental insurance program,” Martin said.

Money-saving offers from other companies are valuable bonus features available with some small business banking packages. Martin noted that some banks offer discounts on partner goods and services because of the sheer volume of purchases by bank customers.

Ask your banker for a list of partner companies offering discounts to small business banking customers. Typical partners include hotels, insurance companies, airlines and office-supply stores.

One risk of issuing company credit cards is that staff may use them for nonbusiness expenses. A service that gives small business owners control over staff spending can reduce that risk.

“Busy employers are concerned about how much or what their employees are spending on their corporate credit cards,” Martin said. “One of the newest features added to certain banks’ offerings for small business owners is Visa card payment controls.”

This feature lets small business owners set limits on daily spending, the days and times of transactions, as well as the locations or geographic areas where the cards can be used.

5 Ways to Getting a Small Business Loan

Small business owners looking for capital may want to spend some time preparing for the process.  That’s because, Marc Scheipe, chief financial officer at Sage North America, says preparation can make all the difference in whether a company receives the funding they desire.

Scheipe, a former small business owner himself, says that prepared businesses going through the financing process have a better chance of gaining loan approval. To help businesses in their journey, Scheipe offers the following tips to small business owners.

  • Provide detailed information— Don’t skimp on specifics with banks. Show exactly how you will use the requested funds and how much you need to accomplish your goals.  Lenders appreciate attention to detail and preparedness when it comes to the facts.  For example, if you are looking to purchase a new piece of equipment, provide quotes on the exact costs, how much capital you need to facilitate this purchase and specifically how the new equipment will help grow your business.
  • Be prepared to share your financial information – all of it – Provide your lender with all the financial background on your company, future growth plans, and often your personal financial information.  By offering this information up front, it will allow a bank to gain an understanding of your complete financial situation and it will ultimately reduce the time to finalize your loan package.  The more information you have to illustrate that you’ve run your business well in the past gives banks the confidence they need to invest in you for the future.  The more information you provide, the easier it will be for your loan officer to get your loan approved.  Banks are in business to loan money, so this is a win-win for both sides.
  • The more the merrier– Research and make a list of five potential lenders and start at your first choice.  If approved for a loan, continue to shop the market for the best rate if you have time.  If declined, keep trying!  Too often, mostly due to lack of time, business owners stop at the first or second negative response.  Be prepared to seek a loan from a minimum of five lenders.  And learn from your mistakes.  If one lender turns you down for one reason or another, learn from this feedback and adjust your approach with the next lender.
  • Seek out Small Business Administration assistance— SBA lenders are a great resource for small businesses.  There are counselors who can assist you with the loan process.  Additionally, the more you know about the products that are available for your unique situation, the better your chances are at securing a yes response to your application.  Visitwww.sba.gov, to learn more about SBA loans.
  • Think local— There are all types of lending institutions, but community lenders are often best equipped to appreciate how your company works within the local business environment.  Community lenders’ key insights can range from local market dynamics, to cash flow timing issues, and they frequently understand your ability to achieve success.  It is always important when working with a local lender to highlight your involvement outside of work within the community.  This is a great demonstration of your commitment to the community where you both live and work.