Write your own business plan with these tips and our free business plan template.
Many service providers claim to have the secret to helping your business succeed. In reality, aside from hard work and determination, your company also needs a strong business plan to grow.
The good news is that you likely have all the information you need for your plan. You just need to put it together in the proper format. That’s where this sample business plan template comes in handy!
This template is based on what we use for our clients. We take this plan and customize it based on the needs of the unique businesses we work with. It’s a great way to start writing your one business plan, but it needs to be customized for your unique business and needs.
Why you need a business plan
A business plan isn’t a make-work project for your company. It’s a necessary step to securing funding, and it’s used to plan and project the growth and success of your business. Here are the top reasons you may want a detailed business plan:
To evaluate your business idea
To evaluate your business idea
To secure a bank loan
To attract investors
To plan for your future growth
To prove you’re worthy of a grant or funding program
Sections in a standard business plan
The first question people ask about business plans is what content needs to be included. Some standard sections should be in nearly every business plan and others are optional depending on your needs and unique business. If you are applying for a specific loan or grant, they may request that additional, specific information be included. For example, when applying for Futurepreneur funding, you are asked to provide a basic SWOT analysis of your top three competitors. Others may ask for specific financial details or projections.
When writing a standard business plan, include the following sections:
1. A Cover Page: Unlike an annual report, your business plan doesn’t need a professionally designed cover page. Just a title, date, and contact information for your business are acceptable. We do recommend including your logo if you have one.
2. An Executive Summary: Your completed business plan is likely to be 25 or more pages. Most investors or lenders won’t read every business plan from start to finish. Your executive summary section is like your hook and overview of you and your company. Use it to hook them, make them want to keep reading, and eventually give you the funding or support.
3. Business Overview: This goes into more detail about your business and will highlight key milestones, make a note of critical success factors, and discuss your core values.
4. Market Analysis: You have likely done some of this already in your business planning. Include detailed research into your target market. Include things like the total available market, market trends and growth rate projections, and a look at your key competitors.
5. Products and Services: Here is where you will go into detail about the products and services you will be offering through your company. The key here is to be specific about the problem that your product or service solves for your customers. If you have a product that doesn’t meet consumer need in the market, it’s not likely to succeed. Lenders and investors want to see there is a good-sized customer base for your products or services.This is also where you’ll differentiate your business from others who sell the same, or nearly the same, thing. Write about what makes your business and offerings better than the competition. Include detailed descriptions of all revenue streams and information about how you will turn prospects into low-value customers, then into high-paying or repeat customers. You may also call this sub-section your marketing funnel.
6. Sales and Marketing Plan: Once you know what sets you apart, it’s time to shout it from the rooftops. You need a detailed marketing strategy for how you will communicate, market, and sell to your target customers. You’ll likely do a SWOT analysis on your business, look deeper into your target audience, summarize your key marketing channels, and outline how you plan to make sales.
7. Operational Plan: This may not be the sexiest section, but it’s essential. This is where you will outline your company health and safety plan, listing any equipment or inventory you own, your business location, and a business risk analysis. We suggest that for every risk you outline, include a mitigation strategy to deal with it.
8. Management Team: This section includes critical job descriptions, resumes of top staff, and a listing of all key executives and management. If you have plans to hire additional staff in the future, detail what the positions will be and how you will recruit for each one.
9. Financial Plan: This is where you’ll include copies of financial statements, including a financial summary, capital requirements, income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet. Some funding programs will provide a template for this, or you can use your own spreadsheets.
Once you’re done writing all of the above, and anything more specific to your business, your business plan is likely to be 20-40 pages long at 1.5 spacing.
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How to use our free business plan template
To help you draft your first business plan, download our free business plan template now. Once you’ve downloaded the file you will need to customize the content so it’s unique to your business and your needs:
Step 1: Save a copy of the editable template on your computer and save it to your hard drive (it would be devastating to lose all your hard work because you forgot to save it).
Step 2: Gather company documents that may be needed or references in your plan. These may include incorporation documents, product and services descriptions and details, sales and marketing plans, operational plans, and summary financials.
Step 3: Go through each templated section and read our prompts. To help you write the best content for each section we summarize exactly what you need to write. In some sections, we give you some prompts to start your thinking.
Step 4: Write your plan based on each section in the template. If you struggle to find the right words, start by placing your raw data and point form notes under each section. For example. For the marketing section, you can make a list of all the social channels you plan to use. Then, go back later and fill in the details in full sentences. Be sure each section includes full sentences, data in tables, or lists. Make sure you provide enough information and detail that someone unfamiliar with your business can fully understand.
Step 5: Take a step back from your document. After you’ve written your first draft, take a break from it and return to it later that day, the next day, or even later in the week. This will help give you a fresh perspective on the content and you may find gaps, inconsistencies, or errors.
Step 6: Save as a PDF and an editable doc. Keep a copy of the latest version in PDF form so you can easily send it to investors or lenders when needed. Keep the editable version so you can go back later and make edits and amendments.
Step 7: Share with your stakeholders and send to any lenders or investors.
Is a business plan a static document?
No! A business plan is a living document meant to be kept up to date as your business evolves. For example, we saw many companies updating their business plans during COVID as the pandemic threw their business in new directions, and they had to adapt.
Plan to review your business plan at least once a year and update as necessary.
When to hire a professional business plan writer
While you can write your business plan independently, there are indispensable benefits to hiring a professional business plan writer.
For starters, your business plan writer writes business plans for a living. As a result, their spelling, grammar, and ability to share the facts of your business in a way that makes the plan attractive to investors and others are top-notch. Even if you consider yourself a good writer, can you realistically dedicate several days to a week to write your business plan?
Also, working with a professional business plan writer can help you get that third-party opinion on your plans. They’ve likely worked with businesses like yours and can suggest things to add (or omit) based on their experience seeing what worked and didn’t work for their clients. This new perspective is a great way to make sure nothing gets overlooked.
Bsbcon has a large team of business plan writers who work with a similar business plan template and can tailor it to your unique business and needs. Contact us to see what we can do for your business.