QuickBooks and White Paper Business Plans - dummies

QuickBooks and White Paper Business Plans

By Stephen L. Nelson

If you have QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, you can choose the Company→Planning & Budgeting→Use Business Plan Tool command to start a wizard that steps you through the process of writing a white paper business plan.

People often write a white paper business plan when they know that they need a strategic plan but don’t really want to make the hard decisions necessary for a strategic plan. The person in this conundrum writes a lengthy white paper business plan to camouflage the absent strategic plan.

You really should write a strategic plan before you write a white paper business plan. A strategic plan, by the way, doesn’t need to be more than a page or two in length. In fact, the hard part of a strategic plan isn’t in the writing, but in the sacrifice: the giving up of certain categories of opportunities, certain markets, and certain tactical approaches that may be comfortable or familiar.

Obviously, you can’t write a good white paper business plan — or at least one that’s based on a sound strategy — until you have a strategic plan in place.

The figure shows the first page of the QuickBooks Business Planner; you can use the wizard to see what it does.

image0.jpg

You can also get detailed information on writing a business plan in both English and Spanish from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

image1.jpg

You’ll find this page easiest to get to (because all you need is the domain name), so you may want to start your exploration of the SBA’s business planning resources here. If you click the Starting & Managing link and then choose Create Your Business Plan in the list of links displayed, you see a page of information that the SBA website offers about writing a business plan.

image2.jpg

It provides links to additional pages of detailed information about the process of writing a business plan, such as a page that provides advice on doing strategic planning and a page that supplies step-by-step instructions for the actual work of writing your plan.

The SBA website changes, predictably, but you should be able to hunt down its links to relevant business planning topics, such as “business plan basics,” “writing the plan,” and “using the plan.”

Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint (which many computer users own because Word and PowerPoint are components of just about every version of Microsoft Office) supply a detailed outline for creating a white paper business plan. (To get to these business plan outlines, choose Office→New and then poke around in the template libraries.)

These business plan templates provide very good starting outlines, so don’t be misled into thinking that something that Microsoft has provided for free to Word or PowerPoint users is in some way inferior to what real businesses use. Microsoft has done an excellent job of showing what information belongs in a white paper business plan.

Most white paper business plans and new venture business plans require a business pro forma financial forecast. Typically, in a hard-copy printed business plan, you include such a forecast as an appendix.

After you create a good, solid strategy and at least a rough white paper business plan, you may also want to create a new venture plan.