A colleague recently passed along a link to me of some 'tools for entrepreneurs' on a website for CID Capital. As CID Capital is a venture capital firm, they frequently review business plans and are very familiar with what to look for to critique whether or not a new venture is likely to be successful.
One of the tools that I believe is especially helpful is their executive summary outline that they require entrepreneurs to submit so that they can determine if it is something worth further pursuing with them. What is an executive summary? Well, it is a shortened version of the business plan, typically only a couple of pages long. It is a very useful tool for enabling investors, such as venture capitalists, bankers or friends & family, to be able to quickly get their arms about what it is you are trying to do -- and then determine if it is a good fit for them.
Although many business plan courses recommend that you write the executive summary last, after you have completed writing your business, I believe there is some value in starting with the executive summary. It helps you get your thoughts down on paper and forced you to be concise and really think through it all on a bigger level right away. You can also use this executive summary to get some feedback on the idea from people you trust before moving forward.
So, if you are a start-up or even a more mature venture, I strongly encourage you to check out the executive summary outline provided by CID Capital and/or one posted elsewhere.