Writing a business plan? If so, many can say that it’s not the most exciting part of starting a business, considering you can be pulling a few all-nighters to get your business plan ready for your first funding pitch. Why? Because business plans are crucial.
Any funder will want to see the business plan right off the bat, as it portrays the solid document that will continue to guide your efforts as your business grows. However, many mistakes can occur during the business plan writing process – usually as a result of poor planning. Common examples include bad location, a marginal niche, having no specific user in mind, raising too much or too little money and more. With good and strategic planning though, any issue can be prevented or at least mitigated.
Creating your business plan is more than collecting your ideas down on paper for potential funders to read – it’s an exploratory process where you can evaluate your options, test your assumptions about your idea, and even discover new opportunities. Writing a business plan may also lead you to kill off aspects of your business, before investing too much time or money in them.
This doesn’t mean to download Microsoft Word and start the plan from scratch; you have access to multiple options, such as templates. When using a template, you are able to utilize a proven and simple structure for your plan. If you don’t have any available time, however, you can hire a reputable business plan writing firm to build a plan from the ground up, such as Go Business Plans.
Below, you will find comprehensive business plan templates that can be downloaded for free to get you started.
1. Score’s Business Plan Template for Startups
Score is an American nonprofit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground. Score offers a template, available in both PDF or Word download, that asks about 150 questions, and is easy enough to customize for most types of businesses. It also comes with a Refining the Plan resource that is extremely helpful, especially if this is your first time writing a business plan.
2. US Small Business Administration Business Plan Engine
The SBA offers a template that is available to fill out online, or downloaded as a PDF. You will have the ability to go back in and edit as needed, so you won’t have to worry about having everything ready the first time you sit down to write the plan. Although the template is broken down into sections, it is a long document and can take some time to get through. However, it produces a professional-looking and useful business plan. The template is also helpful if your idea isn’t fully together, as it will prompt you for more information.
3. The $100 Startup’s One-Page Business Plan
Not all business plans have to be long and complicated. Some funders want to see a lot of detail, but you can provide that in appendices. The $100 Startup is the website for the best-selling book of the same name, that provides numerous stripped-down resources for entrepreneurs, including a super simplified business plan template.
4. LawDepot’s WYSIWYG Business Plan Template
LawDepot claims its template only requires you to answer a few questions, and that you will be “done before you know it!” However, you shouldn’t believe it. Business plans should take time and a lot of research, but if you’ve already implemented that, than LawDepot’s template is a good choice. The template will walk you through getting started, marketing, product, competitive analysis, SWOT and more, with a window below the input fields to show the plan as you work at it. The template can be downloaded for free with a trial subscription, but you need to remember to cancel it within the week if you don’t plan to continue using it.
5. SME Toolkit Business Plan Samples
The SME Toolkit, jointly offered by IFC and IBM, offers a simple two-page outline of what should be included in your business plan in order to meet the minimum requirements of funders and tax authorities (in the US). the template contains 10 broad sections such as the market analysis, management and organization, etc. It also provides a one-paragraph explanation of each. A second download of the same page is an Excel file to help further with your financial projections.
6. Office Online Templates Galore
Microsoft offers numerous business plan templates for Office users, but if you’d rather create a business plan presentation than a Word document, you can download one of Microsoft Office’s half a dozen or so PowerPoint templates for just that purpose. Additionally, you’ll want to customize it with your company branding, but it’s easier than starting from a blank powerpoint.
7. vFinance Inc. Business Plan Template and Guide
Global financial services firm vFinance offers a basic, 30-page business plan template that can be downloaded from its website. vFinance states that this particular template has been downloaded more than a quarter of a million times. Although it won’t be completely unique, vFinance knows exactly what it is doing as the template is generally comprehensive. As the creator of the massive Venture Capital Directory, vFinance has tailored the business plan template to appeal to funders. If that’s the goal you’re aiming for, we highly recommend this template.
8. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT
Invoiceberry is a UK-based online invoicing software brand that offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats. Each one contains a marketing plan and an executive summary template, but before you can have access though, Invoiceberry will ask you to take one of the following three actions: like it on Facebook, give it a +1 on Google+, or give it your e-mail address. If you don’t mind doing the aforementioned actions, it’s a great deal!
9. Santa Clara University’s My Own Business Institute Plans
Santa Clara U’s MOBI is an initiative of its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Leavey School of Business. On its website, you can download each of the 15 business plan sections individually as Word documents, or grab all 15 together in one document. Additionally, there’s many other helpful resources, including guidelines for evaluating your potential sites, a list of key people to review your plan, and sample financial sheets.
10. RocketLawyer’s Business Plan Templates by State
Similar to the other sources, you can fill out RocketLawyer’s form and download the business plan when you’re done. Not only does the template allow you to choose your state before getting started, but these plans are also tailored to meet your financing requirements in your state. This is a huge bonus for those seeking funding through banks. It also heavily geared toward financing, making RocketLawyer a good choice if that is a priority for you.
All in all, these templates will provide the necessary support and resources to get you started on your business plan. However, if you are time-constrained or need additional assistance during the development process of your business plan, we highly recommend reaching out to a professional business plan writing firm. By doing so, you can be rest assured your vision will be clearly portrayed on paper, and in no time, you will be able to receive the funding you need to bring your idea to life.