Write a Winning Business Plan with the Business Plans Handbook

Creating an effective business plan is important for small businesses, both when starting up and expanding a business. A good business plan is a powerful asset in securing financing, planning for expansion, and preparing for the future security of your business. Your business plan should “convince readers that your venture has the potential to be successful.

That’s all very good in principle, but what if you’ve never written a business plan before? Where do you start? What information do you need to include?

Don’t panic. You don’t have to start from scratch. The Library has the perfect resource to help you on your way: the Business Plans Handbook.

What is the Business Plans Handbook?

The Business Plans Handbook is a collection of business plans created by entrepreneurs seeking funding for small businesses. Although the business names have been changed, the plans themselves are real documents used by businesses in the service, manufacturing, and retail sectors. The collection is now in its 44th volume, with business plans that go back as far as 1993.

Each volume includes a general business plan template and multiple sample business plans from a wide range of fields. You can use these models as a framework for your own business plan.

The Business Plans Handbook is an electronic resource available for free with your Halifax Public Libraries card.

How to: Use the Business Plans Handbook

You can access the Business Plans Handbook from any computer at our Library branches, or from home with your library card.

You can access the Business Plans Handbook several different ways:

  • Do a catalogue search on our website (top right-hand corner of any page)
  • Follow the links under our website's top menu tab: E-Library > Resources > By Subject > Business & Law
  • Bookmark this linkopens a new window

If you are at the Library you will have immediate access to the database. From home, you will first be prompted to enter your library card number.

Click on the Business Plans Handbook book cover, as seen below.

Then, you will see a list of the various volumes of the book. You can choose to browse through the plans, or you can do a keyword search using the search box on the top right.

For example, if you enter the word “restaurant” in the search box, you will get a list of all the business plans containing that word. You can then use the filters on the right-hand side to narrow down the results by subject, content level, or language.

The Analyze feature (lower right in the image above) allows you to search the results visually, with a graphic representation of the most common key words within the search results.

When you find a Plan that seems interesting, you can click on its title (listed in blue) to view the associated business plan. 

The first page will look something like this:

Use the tools menu on the right-hand side to save, print, or email the business plan. If you find a plan that you’d like to adapt for your own business you can send it to your Google Drive or OneDrive account to edit and change it as a Word document. 

You can even download it as a MP3 sound file.

If you need more assistance in using the Business Plans Handbook feel free to call us or stop by your local library branch. For more tips on successful business plans check out this guest post from Canada Business Network.

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