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Stephen L. Nelson is the author of the bestselling book:

Write Your Own Business Plan

Each day, several hundred people scour web sites such as this one, looking for help with a stressful task: writing their first business plan.

That's unfortunate. Writing a business plan doesn't have to be all that difficult. Sure. You need to write the right sort of business plan. And you need to collect the appropriate information for the right sort of plan. Finally, you will need to create a professional financial forecast--something that looks like you're a reasonable person to trust a bunch of money to. But none of this should overwhelm you.

Seriously. If you're beginning the process of starting a new business, you should find the steps required to write and then use a business plan the least of your worries.

Ready to get started? Great!

If you already know what your business plan should look like, jump right to either the How to Write a Business Plan for a Bank page or the How to Write a Business Plan for Investor.

Next, when you're ready to begin your financial forecasting, grab one of the free business plan templates. Or consider purchasing the premium businessplan.xls workbook if you will show your plan to a bank, venture capitalist or angel investor.

Finally, if you're not quite ready to begin writing a plan but do want to continue your research, poke around some of the other pages here. You can read about the special business planning issues that confront small businesses, get some general information about the business planning process, and hear about some related items of interest to entrepreneurs and business (such as our do-it-yourself limited liability company and incorporation kits).