Business-plan guides are a dime a dozen, but most miss the point. They fail to mention that concocting an effective business plan uses more brainpower than ink.

There are two books that get it: The Perfect Business Plan Made Simple, by William Lasher (Doubleday, 1994, $12), approaches the business plan as a sales document. OK -- that's a limited concept, since the best business plans are first and foremost management tools. But the 278-page guide does a good job of instructing readers on developing all kinds of financial projections and includes a great "short course in finance for nonfinancial planners." The Business Planning Guide, by David H. Bangs Jr. (Upstart Publishing, 800-235-8866, 1992, $19.95), is formulaic but fairly comprehensive as it discusses everything from how to outline a business plan to performing "budget deviation analysis by month."

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