Napoleon Hill quote: “Plan your work. Work your plan.” Without a plan you are travelling on a journey with no road signs.

Compare these 3 ways to get a plan organized so that you can do what you love to do and make money too.

1. Liveplan.com is good online tool that leads you through the major sections to develop a good business plan. They give you examples for each section to help you with the wording and messaging of your own plan. When you input your industry code Liveplan syncs to metrics for your industry so you can track your own progress vs. the overall industry. Liveplan also allows you to sync your QuickBooks information into Liveplan. From my view, Liveplan is about a 8 out of 10 rating. This is due to lack of functionality in forecasting and budgeting your financials using the Liveplan financial section. Also, when you download your plan from Liveplan and then perhaps see edits that you want to make, be sure to make changes in Liveplan. Otherwise, your edited download version will be different from the online version.

2. Business Plan in a Day, a book authored by Rhonda Abrams, is a good offline resource that explains what core sections of the plan are needed and why the included content is important. Examples are very detailed and easy to follow. For any plan, usually it takes 24 hours or more to develop plan content. You can spend 24 hours straight, which I would not recommend, or dedicate a long weekend of say 8 hours per day for 3 days to complete at least a first draft of your plan. My rating for Business Plan in a Day is a 7, mainly due to lack of online fillable version of a plan – at least I have not seen it.

3. NitaBlack.com develops a customized business plan using a core 10-section format. We share plan documents online with clients using either Dropbox or Google Drive so that the client always has access to their plan. The financial section is typically developed in a separate spreadsheet and then copied/pasted into the plan. We also spend quite a bit of time on industry analysis by NAICS code using census and other data. My rating for NitaBlack.com Business Plan Development is a 9 out of 10. This is because it is not fully automated online, but a standard process is used to address specific client business plan needs.

Please share pros and cons and recommended resources for developing a workable business plan in the comment section below. Remember that this document is never really “done” unless the business is no longer operating. Always a work in progress, a guide for growth and profitability.

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