Planning for your new business and writing a business plan will likely take longer than is expected.  This is not to discourage a new entrepreneur from moving forward.  Review a business plan tailored to the type of business you expect to open is the place to start.  You will get ideas on the areas of research needed to accumulate the facts and figures to complete the business plan.

There are a variety of places to look for a suitable template or outline.  Go to for free templates to get started.  You can also Google business plan and include the type of business you will open.  There is plenty of free material available.

In Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Library is a wonderful place to start.  The Carnegie Library – Downtown and Business, at 612 Smithfield Street, has a business department in the lower level with business librarians who can give excellent guidance.

The Carnegie Library in Squirrel Hill at the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues is home to the Namm Business Center.  This is also an excellent place to get information with helpful librarians to assist you.

There is a series of books containing sample business plans for nearly every kind of business you can imagine.  Entrepreneur Magazine also has a series, “How To Start A …”.  These will serve as a template or guide to writing your plan.  You will also find many books with general and specific information.

What you will determine as you review the business plan format is what will be needed to complete the various sections.  Some sections will take longer and require more research.  For instance, you may get demographics by contacting the local chamber of commerce, economic development agency or government office in which the business will be located.  Financial expectations and trends might come from a national trade association for the industry. Discussions with others in a similar business can be helpful.

Gather up the paperwork you will need to include for the last section of your business plan such as:

  • The last 3 years of your personal tax returns,
  • Copy of rental agreement,
  • Blueprints for needed remodeling,
  • Pictures or manuals for necessary purchased or leased equipment, and
  • Other materials that help to define your business and those who will be involved in running it.

A good plan will WOW your banker or other financial backers. Remember, it’s not like a high school term paper that you want to look long and complicated. Say it once; keep it tight and well organized.

About the Author(s)

Pittsburgh SCORE Mentor