Let the Birmingham Public Library Help You Celebrate National Write a Business Plan Month

Start your business plan today! Photo by Nick Youngson from Alpha Stock Images.

December is National Write a Business Plan Month, and it serves as a perfect time for budding entrepreneurs to think about starting a new business!

If this sounds like the kind of adventure you would like to embark on, then the first step you should take is putting together a well-developed business plan. 

A business plan is a document that describes the purpose and strategy of a business using a narrative style and data to ensure that the business achieves success. If the plan is put together well, it will serve as a blueprint to follow—and modify if necessary—throughout the life of the business. The document itself can be long or short depending on the specific goals of the business.

But it must be thorough enough that the business owner, and all those who have a financial stake in the business, know clearly what product or services are being provided, how they will be marketed, and realistic projections regarding revenue, costs, and profits.

If you’ve never written a business plan, it may seem like an intimidating task.

Most people with an entrepreneurial mindset have big dreams, but they do not usually have the experience of putting together the legal, financial, and administrative details that will make their business plan an effective tool for guiding their thoughts and actions.

Fortunately, resources are available to help with the identification, analysis, and fleshing out of these details.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) can provide access to some of the best computer database resources to help you craft an effective business plan:

  • Gale Business: Plan Builder is a comprehensive database that provides step-by-step guidance on planning, starting, and running a small business or nonprofit. The program’s intuitive dashboard walks you through five areas of exploration: the entrepreneurial profile, business ideation, break-even analysis, business plans, and financial projections. Plan Builder offers tools that will help get a new business off the ground, or if you’re a more experienced business owner, tools that are focused on long-term success.
  • Gale Business: Demographics Now is a powerful online resource that connects users with a wealth of highly detailed demographic data on more than 24 million U.S. businesses and 206 million consumers—making it ideal for gaining consumer and market insight. The product's superior reporting capability enables users to easily and rapidly produce a variety of compiled reports—both standard and custom—to help make informed and accurate decisions.
  • Gale Business: Entrepreneurship combines authoritative periodical and reference content to support prospective and current entrepreneurs as well as business students. Experience an easy-to-browse interface mapped to four key stages—plan, fund, start, and manage—to fit your research needs at any point in your business's development.
  • Gale Legal Forms provides access to thousands of authentic, state-specific legal forms relevant to starting or managing a new business while offering the most robust collection of legal information available.
  • Gale Udemy lets you learn and improve skills across business, tech, design, and personal interests. Connect to 4,000+ on-demand video courses taught by world-class instructors. Courses cover the freshest and most relevant content on leadership and management, coding, design, marketing, IT operations, data science, project management, human resources, sales, accounting and finance, and productivity.
  • Business Plans Handbook is a collection of real business plans compiled by entrepreneurs seeking funding for small businesses throughout North America. These plans provide examples of how to approach, structure and compose a business plan. Each Handbook presents 20 sample plans taken from businesses in the manufacturing, retail, and service industries—only the company names and addresses have been changed.
These databases can be viewed on computers at any BPL location or remotely from the BPL database webpage. Remote usage does require a valid JCLC library card and residence within the city limits of Birmingham.

Once you get to the database webpage, you can select the individual databases using either the Database Quick Links dropdown menu or by clicking on the link labeled “Business” on the left hand side of the page under “By Subject.”

For more information about all BPL materials, resources, and services related to writing a business plan and starting a business, please contact the Central Library’s Business, Science, and Technology Department by email at cenbusiness@cobpl.org or by phone at 205-226-3640.

By Jim Murray | Librarian Ⅱ, Business, Science, and Technology Department