I frequently get questions about business plan templates. Here’s a part of a recent email I received. 

“I want to write a business plan. The option that appeals to me most is using a template. It seems to me that this is a good way of not reinventing the wheel. What is your opinion on using a business plan template?

So here is my reply.

Hi Jerry, before I can answer that question properly I need more information. But to save time, here is a pre-prepared response that I have on file.

Business Plan Templates – good choice or bad?

The first thing you need to get clear on is purpose. In other words, why do you want to create a business plan, what do you want the plan to achieve?

To help answer this question, you need to get clear on what type of business plan you need to create.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of business plans.
Type One: The first is the kind that you might take to a bank or potential investor. Its purpose is to persuade someone to lend you money or invest in your business.
Type Two: The second is essentially an internal plan. It’s a business success blueprint or business direction roadmap. Its purpose is to effectively convert ideas and goals into good decisions and smart action steps. If it’s a good plan, you will always be clear on what you need to do next; on your pathway to success.
If you would like more information of this topic, see my previous blob post at

http://thebusinessplanblog.com/writing-a-business-plan-avoid-this-frustrating-mistake/

TYPE ONE:
Now if your need is for Type One, and you have really got your business act together, then a business plan template could be a good tool to prompt you for the right information. If your not sure what “getting your business act together” means, checkout the link above.

But there may be a better way for you!

Consider this. If you know who or whom you are going to approach for finance, do some quick research. See if you can find out – what is their criteria for lending money or providing a grant.

If you know this information, your business plan or financing application can be better targeted than a generic business plan template.
TYPE TWO:
If the purpose of your business plan is to get your business operation organized and positioned for success, a business plan template may be a bad idea.

Here’s why.

The success or otherwise of your business will be greatly impacted by three major factors.

The first is your vision or passion. What you seek to achieve and why it’s important. Developing clarity is this are is vital. Particularly in this challenging new economy. This should be goal number one of your business planning process.

The second is your ability to put in placed the processes and systems that can turn your vision into practical reality. Designing these systems and processes should be the number two priority of your business plan.

The third and vital factor that you must come to grip with is what I call “The Making-It-Happen plan. Time and time again, business plans are created only to die on the shelf. To succeed, you must be a leader and take charge. The Making-It-Happen process needs to be a daily priority for you, the business leader.

Now I think you will find that a business plan template would be a poor substitute for some common sense and effort on your part.

This blog is totally dedicated to enabling people like you to be able to plan for business success. Take a look at some of my other post for topics that can help you achieve your business goals.

Andrew Smith
The Business Plan Guy