Direct costs (also known as costs of goods sold—COGS) are the costs that can be completely attributed to the production of a specific product or... Tim Berry, president of Palo Alto Software Inc., responds to a reader seeking advice on finding a low-cost writer to help with a business plan. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities. You want to get to a there, a point in the future (usually three to five years out) at which time your business will have a different set of resources and abilities as well as greater profitability and increased assets. A business plan template is a tool for writing a business plan that includes the sections necessary for creating a document you can use to start a business or share with potential lenders, investors and business partners. The template usually contains headings for the different sections and brief instructions for what to include in each section. Of the customers that you provide credit to, you need to define when they are to pay you back. The faster, the better your cash flow will look like. Your plan shows how you will get from here to there.