Using the Free-Plan Template

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The Free-Plan Template (FREE-PLAN_TEMPLATE.DOC) requires Microsoft Word. It follows the same structure and sequence as the Guide.

Once unprotected, you are licensed to use the Template for your business plan. There are no restrictions on how and where you distribute your completed plan based on Free-Plan. However, you must not distribute the unprotected template file as a business plan template to third parties - they can acquire and register their own copies from PlanWare at

You will find the Template in the folder where you installed or unzipped the downloaded EXE or ZIP file. It can also be accessed via Start > Programs > Free-Plan if Free-Plan was installed via the EXE file.

Using the Free-Plan Template

Here are some guidelines and tips for using the Template once you have registered and unprotected it using Microsoft Word:

Before you start working with the Template, see Planning to Plan.
Use this help file as the Guide when using the Template. Alternatively, you can print the PDF version (FREE-PLAN_GUIDE.PDF) of this help file for off-line use.
Depending on the status and scale of the business, you may need at the very outset to edit the Template’s section headings to create a more appropriate structure and flow for your plan. We recommend that you do this initial editing by hand on a printed copy of the Template and then apply the changes to the Word file. Start the latter by editing the section, subsection and sub-subsection headings and deleting/moving them around to get the right overall framework. Use Word's View > Document Map to help this process (reselect View > Document Map to hide the map). Avoid getting into any detailed writing at this stage.

When making changes to headings, apply them to section, subsection and sub-subsection headings within the body of the Template and not to the Table of Contents. Once changes have been made, the Table of Contents can be updated automatically.

Spend plenty of time working on your plan’s structure and flow as this becomes the road map for your plan and its preparation - see Table of Contents for more guidance. Once your plan's framework has been defined and refined, ascertain the key gaps in your preparatory work. You must sort these out before starting to write the plan. In other words, do the main planning before starting to write your detailed plan. For example, you should not contemplate making sales or financial projections before you have researched the market and confirmed a worthwhile opportunity for your proposed offerings. See Planning to Plan.
If you make significant changes to the supplied headings in the Template, make sure that they follow a logical sequence and progressively build up the plan. For example, do not present the finances before discussing all the key functions and plans for the business, or show sales projections before explaining the proposed offerings or making market assessments.
When editing the Template, you will see that numbered section headings are shown in blue. They have been based on the following Word styles:

Heading 1 (CTRL+Shift F4)
Heading 2 (CTRL+Shift F5)
Heading 3 (CTRL+Shift F6)

You can easily change these styles via Format > Styles and Formatting. Other important styles include:

Body Text (CTRL+Shift F1)
Body single spaced (CTRL+Shift F2)

Users in many countries will wish to make the following global changes to the Template as follows:
1.Change Word’s File > Page Setup > Paper Size from Letter size to A4 size.
2.Use a local language spell checker instead of English (US) via Tools > Language > Set Language.
3. Alter the currency symbol ($) used in sample tables throughout the Template via Edit  > Replace to substitute your own symbol, for example, to replace $ by €. For most situations, it should be unnecessary to show values to the nearest single $ or € so the currency denomination could be left at 000. If desired, show values in thousands to the first decimal place, for example, 300.1 would represent 300,100 where the 000 denomination is used. If needs be, replace 000 by Mln to show values in millions or by a blank space to show values in single currency units where the business is very small.
If you are preparing a short plan, consider not starting each main section in the Template on a new page. To do this, select Format  > Styles an Formatting ..., right click Heading 1, select Modify ... > Format > Paragraph .. Line and Page Breaks and uncheck Page break before.

Bear in mind that the length of the plan is likely to increase as writing progresses. If the plan gets too long, do ruthless editing and redrafting. This is not necessarily a bad approach as it should be much easier to shorten a long plan than to lengthen a short one! For more on this, see Planning to Plan and Length of the Plan. If you only need a short plan, see Producing a Basic/Short Plan.

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