Developing or updating a business plan can be a daunting task. Fortunately, a new software tool designed for agriculture is now available to help farmers and ranchers prepare detailed business plans. The University of Minnesota Center for Farm Financial Management developed the FinPack Busi-ness Plan Personal Version, which can help producers considering major changes to their operations describe those plans to lenders, partners, family members or employees.

“When farmers consider major changes they’re often asked to put together a business plan to justify the project,” explains Dave Nordquist, software support specialist at Minnesota’s CFFM. “The problem was, there weren’t any ag-specific tools to walk them through the process.”

FinPack Business Plan Personal Version offers to fill that void, making it easier to develop a plan by giving farmers an outline to follow, and providing suggestions to help them write their plan. Modeled after CFFM’s business-plan software developed for educators and consultants, the new Personal Version package has all the key features of the original. The main distinction between the two is that with the Personal Version, users create a single business plan.

The Personal Version begins with a complete outline of the points that should be considered in a business plan, including operations, marketing and personnel plans. Within each section of the outline, users will find tips to help them prepare a more complete plan. The software also includes a sample plan and web links to online information sources specific to each section. If a user is working with a professional who also has the software, he or she can share files.

“Whether it’s an expansion, a financial reorganization, or a new enterprise or partnership, this software tool is flexible enough to accommodate planning for any business change,” Nordquist concludes.

The FinPack Business Plan Personal Version sells for $95. A free 10-day trial is available. To learn more, visit www.cffm.umn.edu or call the Center for Farm Financial Management at (800) 234-1111.