It’s all too easy to make the mistake of writing your business plan as a spreadsheet or to use a spreadsheet template in your business plan writing. To the untrained eye, the spreadsheet approach to business plan writing looks less professional than other methods, but there are several advantages to using spreadsheets in your plans.
The first advantage of spreadsheet templates is the reduction in errors made when typing out your entire plan on paper. With the spreadsheet system, each entry is based on a cell. This is how the formulas for keywords, figures, and dollar amounts are created. The spreadsheet software is easy to learn, and you won’t have to learn any advanced coding languages to add, delete, or change a single cell in your business plan.
However, this does not mean that the spreadsheet is the best option for your specific business plans. There are two major reasons why you might choose a spreadsheet. You might not be able to use the spreadsheet software easily, or you might simply prefer the layout of the spreadsheet, not realizing that you can include a cover sheet to the spreadsheet.
A cover sheet is added to a business plan template to make it easy to insert your contact information in the back. In most cases, the templates will include a cover sheet with an introductory text box that gives the name of the company, your name, and your website address.
After this box is filled in, all you have to do is type in the keywords, dollar amounts, and other figures that you need to enter into the cells for that section of the plan. You can also change the colors, headers, and other elements that you want in the data cells by adding a few lines of code.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the basic spreadsheet, there are some excellent Excel and other programs that offer a spreadsheet template or a web-based business plan template. These will enable you to create a business plan in minutes, without learning anything new. They are more complex, however, because they take into account formatting issues, including numbers, colors, and fonts.
While spreadsheet templates might be the ideal choice for most businesses, they can’t be used for your business plan if you are trying to make a profit. The reason is that the cell formatting and other things needed to have a spreadsheet template work are not included in the free version of these templates. It costs money to have these special elements included in the templates.
Once you have this data ready for your business plan, you will probably be surprised at the impact it has on your business. Consider how much time you could be saving by sticking to your business plan and not having to worry about reading the rules and regulations that need to be followed by each state you are considering investing in. And, after you have your business plan, you can count on using the spreadsheet templates to create additional business plans.