Business Planning

Where to Start


Thinking about starting a business? How do you know if you have what it takes?

Many entrepreneurs start businesses, convinced they have a winning idea, without ever evaluating the idea’s potential to succeed.


Find a feasibility worksheet on page 30 and a step-by-step business startup checklist on page 28 of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Starting Your Business in Illinois Handbook, in addition to general information about all aspects of starting a business.


Check out the State of Illinois “Business Startup Start Here Guide or try the BizFilings Business Startup Checklist.


Need to do a SWOT analysis? In need of a place to compare and contrast some feedback? Use Canvanizer to sort through your thoughts. Consider trying the business model canvas or the lean canvas.


  • Cover image for Blink


    Malcolm Gladwell
  • Cover image for Think and Grow Rich

    Think and Grow Rich

    Napoleon Hill
  • Cover image for The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

    The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

    Clayton M. Christensen
  • Cover image for The Personal MBA

    The Personal MBA

    Josh Kaufman
  • A dozen lessons for entrepreneurs book cover

    A Dozen Lessons for Entrepreneurs

    Tren Griffin
  • Cover image for The Wall Street Journal Complete Small Business Guidebook

    The Wall Street Journal Complete Small Business Guidebook

    Colleen DeBaise
  • Cover image for The Lean Startup

    The Lean Startup

    Eric Ries
  • Cover image for Side Hustle

    Side Hustle

    Chris Guillebeau
  • Cover image for The Startup Checklist

    The Startup Checklist

    David S. Rose
  • Cover image for Zero to One

    Zero to One

    Peter A. Thiel, Blake Masters

Write Your Business Plan


A business plan approximately comprises 20 pages describing the potential goods and services to be offered. It is also your roadmap for the next three to five years. It generally includes:

  • A summary of the plan with details to follow
  • Overview of the company and its industry
  • Goods and services to be offered
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Business operations
  • Management structure
  • A schedule for starting the business
  • Assessment of risks
  • Financial analysis and worksheets
  • Conclusion

Find books at the Lake Forest Library on business plans in the Lake Forest Library Business Collection Room at number 658.4.


The SCORE online guide includes template documents such as basic business plans, sample cash flow worksheets, and marketing plan guides. SCORE, previously known as Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a nonprofit organization committed to helping entrepreneurs develop and grow their small businesses. Learn more here.


Or, page through a guide curated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). 


In addition to library resources such as ReferenceUSA and Sorkins, the Census Business Builder can help assist you with market research.


  • Cover image for Business Plans Handbook

    Business Plans Handbook

    Gale Cengage Learning, Gale Research Inc
  • Nolo's How to Write a Business Plan

    How to write a business plan.

    Mike McKeever
  • Cover image for The Art of the Start 2.0

    The Art of the Start 2.0

    Guy Kawasaki
  • Cover image for Business Plans Kit For Dummies

    Business Plans Kit For Dummies

    Barbara Findlay Schenck, Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret, Dummies
  • Start a Successful business

    Start a successful business : expert advice to take your startup from idea to empire

    DeBaise, Colleen
  • How to prepare a business plan

    How to prepare a business plan

    Blackwell, Edward
  • Cover image for Burn the Business Plan

    Burn the Business Plan

    Carl J. Schramm