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Writing a Business Plan FAQ

Writing a business plan is a critical step in launching a new business venture. It helps prospective business owners think objectively and critically about the chances of success for their business idea.

good business plan will be an essential communication, management, and planning tool.

  • One objective of a business plan is to attract investment capital, loans, and business partners. An investor or lender will be more likely to provide money to your business when they see that you've put research and thought into the business.
  • As a management tool, the plan can help monitor and evaluate the progress of your business. As they move forward, it serves as a guide to keep the business on the right track.
  • As a planning tool, it can guide you through the different phases of the business lifecycle.

This article answers some of the most common questions prospective entrepreneurs have about how to write a business plan, and whether they even need a business plan.

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Do I Need to Write a Business Plan If I'm Going to Fund the Business Myself?

You don't need to write a plan, but every new business owner will benefit from writing a business plan.

If you were building a home, you would start with a blueprint before you poured even a drop of cement, and you would refer to the blueprint during construction. A business plan is a blueprint for a successful business.

Give the business plan as much time as necessary to ensure you have the proper blueprint. It will be helpful to you even if you intend to provide all the capital for your business.

You can use the business plan as a guide and a goal. If you've done your market research, you can set goals and milestones to reach those goals. If you have a financial plan and solid financial projections, you can set targets to measure your success. These targets provide a roadmap to keep your business on track.

Who Can Help Me With My Business Plan?

FindLaw's Start a Business section offers a variety of resources to help entrepreneurs get started writing their business plans. But there are many people in your area who can also provide you with invaluable advice. A business lawyer can help you understand what a plan is and how to make decisions in ways that prevent future legal obstacles.

You can also call your local U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) office to ask about technical assistance for a startup business, talk to an experienced small business mentor, or schedule an appointment with a business counselor at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Can Someone Write My Business Plan for Me?

Yes, there are consultants and businesses that specialize in writing business plans. Do a google search for such businesses in your state. Be cautious, however, as this is someone who will need to intricately understand your business. Look for someone who has real industry experience, ideally in your type of business. They should also have a business degree. And, of course, good online reviews. Ask to talk to past clients.

Even if you do hire someone to write a business plan for you, it helps if you have begun the writing process. No one knows the details as well as the small business owner themselves. Giving the writer a starting point will help the process go faster.

Is a Business Plan a Legal Document? Am I Making a Legally Binding Promise?

A business plan is NOT a legal document, at least not in the U.S. Obviously, lenders and investors who rely upon your business plan to make a loan or investment decision expect the baseline facts to be truthful. But if you are projecting to break even by a certain time and it doesn't happen, that was a projection, not a promise.

Who Should I Share my Business Plan With?

A business plan is meant to be shared, but obviously, you don't want it used in a way that undermines your budding business. For some readers, like a potential business partner, you may want to ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This prevents them from sharing the information they have seen, allowing you to sue them if they do.

Banks and investors see a lot of business plans. They may not agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Before you send them an entire plan, write or call to determine their interest. 

Can I Use a Business Plan Template or Do I Need to Create My Plan from Scratch?

Templates exist that you can use to fill in the information you want to share in your business plan. You can also use the business plan outline provided on the FindLaw website. The exact details of your plan will be unique to your business so a template is simply an easy way to capture content and remember what you need to include.

Do I Need to Meet With an Attorney Before Writing My Business Plan?

It's up to you. Meeting with a business start-up attorney who is well-versed in the legal issues and challenges affecting small businesses could prove quite valuable. Even if you don't have specific questions, an attorney can review your business plan to make sure it adequately reflects legal realities, such as the costs associated with regulations. Call a business and commercial law attorney in your area to get started.

And if you are ready to get starting forming your business, check out FindLaw's easy-to-use DIY business formation services.

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