Planning 101

Build Your Business Plan

Creating a business plan is one of the most important steps you will take because the plan serves as your road map for the early years of your business. The business plan generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to reach its yearly milestones, including revenue projections. A well thought out plan also helps you to step back and think objectively about the key elements of your business venture and informs your decision-making on a regular basis.

SBA's Business Plan Tool provides you with a step-by-step guide to help you get started. All of your information entered into this tool can only be viewed by accessing your account using the password you have specified. Not only can you save your plan as a PDF file, but you can also update it at any time, making this a living plan to which you can often refer. 

During the step-by-step process, this tool will update the status of your business plan. Once you save your information and move to a new section in the business plan, a checkmark will appear in the numbered section menu at the top of the screen denoting when each section is complete.

Get started now by following this link and logging in or registering for a new account. Accounts are free of charge.

Market Research

Market research blends consumer behavior and economic trends to confirm and improve your business idea. It’s crucial to understand your consumer base from the outset. Market research lets you reduce risks even while your business is still just a gleam in your eye. Here is a link to tools available to help you with your research.

Calculate Your Start-Up Costs

How much money will it take to start your small business? Calculate the startup costs for your small business so you can request funding, attract investors, and estimate when you’ll turn a profit. The SBA has a variety of resources on their website to help you with this process.

Here is a PDF worksheet to help you get started. This worksheet is set up for a fictional business, Joe's Pizza Place. Change expense categories or add new ones to fit your business. Enter one-time and monthly expenses in the appropriate columns. Your estimations should go into the Budget column, and the exact amount spent should go into the Actual column. Total funds required is the total estimated amount you need to start your company.

Financial Statements

Wondering what goes into the various financial statements needed for your business plan? Here are Excel templates to help with your income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheets. 

Income Statement Template

Cash Flow Statement Template

Balance Sheet Template

Learn On Your Own

Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota

This is a comprehensive guide produced by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. It covers an extensive list of issues that need to be considered when starting your business. 

A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota 2018

Starting a Business Topics

Starting a business in Minnesota is not a single decision but a series of them, each one an important step on the road to a successful launch. Here Minnesota DEED will help you tackle the most common questions in the order you're most likely to need answers. This page also includes additional guidebooks and resources available to help your business be as successful as possible.

Small Business Administration Learning Center

The SBA Learning Center provides dozens of webinars related to every phase of owning and operating a business.

Find a Consultant

The Economic Alliance

We provide one-on-one business consultation, as well as group classes that we advertise throughout the year. If you'd like more information or would like to schedule an initial meeting, contact Katie Heppner at or (218) 837-5950. 

Small Business Development Center

The mission of the North Central Region Small Business Development Center is to improve economic growth in Minnesota by providing assistance to small businesses in order to increase the number of new business start-ups, expand existing small businesses, and reduce the number of small business failures .They offer services for every stage of your business, from pre-venture to start-up, to well established. The SBDC 

The SBDC offers confidential one-on-one consulting at no cost to qualified individuals or business owners. We can help you identify, understand and overcome the challenges of running a successful business. We provide relevant, realistic and sound advice you can trust in such areas as:

• Access to capital and loan packaging
• Financial review, assessment and management
• General marketing and research
• Marketing plan assessment and development
• Business start-up/purchase feasibility
• Start-up considerations
• Business plan development
• Succession and strategic planning

To learn more, or to contact an SBDC consultant today, visit their website at

Women's Business Alliance

The Women’s Business Alliance provides women business owners with services to grow, finance or start a business. They have resources specific to women including advising and networking opportunities that support strategies for professional and business growth. They are a regional resource for women in business to expand leadership talents and capabilities.

To learn more, contact Sandy Voigt at or 218-735-6033..




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