Ok, so you have a great idea for a business and you want to start a business? What is the first and foremost thing you need to start a business?
The answer is very simple. it's an informal business plan that can convince you that your idea makes sense because your time, your money, and your effort are on the line.
To write a business plan, maybe you think you don't need a step by step guide or a template for writing a business plan. After all, some entrepreneurs succeed without writing a business plan. With great timing, solid business skills, entrepreneurial drive, and a little luck, some founders build thriving businesses without creating even an informal business plan.
But the odds are greater than those entrepreneurs fail.
Does a business plan make startup success inevitable? Absolutely not. But great planning often means the difference between success and failure. Where your entrepreneurial dreams are concerned, you should do everything possible to set the stage for success.
And that's why a great business plan is one that helps you succeed.
The easiest way to simplify the work of writing a business plan is to start with a business plan template.
You’re already investing time and energy in planning your business — there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to formatting your plan. Instead, to help build a complete and effective plan, lean on time-tested structures created by entrepreneurs who have come before you.
Business planning is often used to secure funding, but plenty of business owners find writing a plan valuable, even if they never work with an investor. That’s why we put together a free business plan template to help you get started.
Why use a business plan template?
A good business plan template can help you get your thoughts organized. It can provide a guideline so you’re not stuck looking at a blank page trying to figure out where to start. Plus, it shows you the general layout of a standard business plan so you know what goes where and that you're not leaving out anything.
Here are some of the key benefits of using a business plan template:
- Guidance on what to include in each section. If you’ve never sat through a business class, you might never have created a SWOT analysis or a balance sheet before. Templates that offer guidance—in plain language — about how to fill in each section can help you navigate sometimes-daunting business jargon and create a complete and effective plan.
- A business plan is vital to helping you get finance. If you're seeking finance for your business, you'll need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business. Lenders and investors will only risk their time and money if they're confident that your business will be successful and profitable.
- A business plan can help you prioritize. A complete, thoughtful business plan is one of the most valuable tools in helping you reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out strategies to achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road.
Preparing a business plan will help you work out the goals you want to achieve, and the strategies to achieve them. This means you can focus your resources and energy on what you need to do, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
It's important to have a business plan, but it's just as important to keep it up to date. A business plan is not a document you create once and store in your bottom drawer. It's a living guide that you should develop as your business grows and changes. Successful businesses review and update their business plan when circumstances change.
If you have a team in your business, holding brainstorming sessions is a good way to benefit from their knowledge - it ensures you're all on the same page and that you get their support.
Who should use this business plan template?
This template is intended to ensure you’re analyzing through all of the important aspects of starting a new business or growing an existing one. It’s designed to help entrepreneurs consider the full scope of running a business and identify functional areas they may not have considered.
This template is a sample business plan template and it can be used for almost all industry. That said, it may not include the specific details for potential investors or lenders. If your goal with a business plan is to secure funding, check with your target organizations — typically banks or investors — to see if they have a template or criteria you need to follow to maximize your chances of success.
Business plan template outline
This sample business plan template includes the following sections:
- The Quick Pitch: Executive Summary & Elevator Pitch
- Executive Summary
- Elevator Pitch
- What are you going to sell?
- Problem Analysis
- Product and Services
- All about you and your team
- Owner's Background
- Team Members
- Who are your customers?
- The Market
- Do you know what it's like out there?
- Market Research
- How will you contact your customers?
- Marketing Strategy
- Who are your competitors and how do you compare?
- Competitor Analysis
- How will customers get the good and you get paid?
- Operations And Logistics
- How much will it cost?
- How much money will you make?
- Sales and Cost Forecast
- Personal Survival Budget
- CashFlow Forecast
- Costs Table
- What if it doesn't work?
- Backup Plan
In our business plan template, we have included help and guidelines about the purpose of each section and how to complete that particular section.