Writing a business plan can seem to be a pretty daunting task, especially if you don’t have a business background, to begin with. For budding entrepreneurs who have a great business idea but don’t know how to materialize it, then a business plan will streamline it for you.
But, having a business plan is more than just for entrepreneurs at the start-up stage, it’s also a helpful evaluation tool for those who have been in the business for quite some time now wanting to scale and grow.
To help you get started with your next business venture, we’ve produced a simple and free business plan template for you to follow. This business plan template is a fairly effective framework to analyze if your idea is feasible and how you can push your business to take off.
Why do you need a business plan?
May it be a business, a project, or a task, everything starts with a plan. You can’t successfully execute something without having a concrete plan in place. If you dive into execution right away, chances are, you don’t know how to measure your performance because you don’t have a plan in the first place. And this is most especially true in any business.
Here are the top reasons why every business must need to write a business plan:
- Evaluate the feasibility of your business venture or idea: The foremost benefit of writing a business plan is it lets you assess whether your business idea or your next venture is worth the launch. It serves as your feasibility study to determine the practicality and viability of your business proposal.
- Give you a more cohesive vision: A business plan becomes your overall roadmap into running your company in the future. Whether it’s marketing, sales, finance, manpower, or logistics, you have a clear path every step of the way so you won’t get blindsided.
- Attract financial investors and business partners: If you are seeking finance for your business, then a business plan is a concrete document that you can present to investors and banks. It gives confidence to investors and lenders about the future success of your business and the profitability of their investments as well. It can also serve as your material to get business partners on board with your company.
- Understand your business: But someone asked, “what if I have the funds or my family will fund my business? Do I still need a business plan?” The answer is still a resounding yes! A business plan is more than just a fundraising tool. It’s a way for you to understand how your business will be put together piece by piece. As you understand your business better, you can also structure your goals, strategies, and next steps a lot better.
- Ascertain your financial and other needs: A business plan can help you scope the necessary work and fine-tune the time, resources, and money appropriately. Disregarding a plan can result in unexpected costs, budget overruns, or production delays. It helps you know precisely how much capital you need and how it will be allocated properly.
A detailed business plan can let you forecast the start-up costs that you will incur.
- Track the performance of your business: A written record of your goals can help you track your progress in the future. If you have secured funding, for example, then you can easily know how to measure the results and how you can deliver what was promised to your investors. Your plan becomes a good baseline for monitoring your progress.
- Understand your competition: Aside from internal factors, a business plan can also help you gauge the competition. Every business, whether niche or not, has some level of competition. It’s critical that you identify your direct and indirect competitors so that you can establish your sustainable competitive advantage.
Why should you use a business plan template?
You don’t have to start from scratch and make your life more complicated. Using a business plan template can get you started as quickly as possible. Plus, a free business plan template can surely save you some bucks than hiring someone to do it for you and there are people who will try and charge a template. Why pay when you can download our free template for free?
Our Business plan template is the exclusive material. With detailed instruction, you can start working on your plan right after reading this post.
By using a business plan template, you can benefit from the following:
- Get your thoughts organized: A good business plan template serves as your guideline. This helps you not to get a writer’s block looking at a blank page, not knowing where to begin.
- Provide a general layout of a standard business plan: You won’t have to research for various business plan structures trying to figure out which parts should be included in a business plan. Having a business plan template will already provide you with well-researched structures so you know every possible section is already covered.
- Guide you even without a business degree: There are some business jargons that can be intimidating at first. Do you know what SWOT means? A business plan template will guide you every step of the way with layman’s terms so you know exactly what you’re writing about.
Who should use this business plan template?
If you want to make sure that you are covering all important aspects of launching your next business venture or wanting to expand your current business, then our free business plan template is specifically outlined just your you.
It is deliberately designed to help budding entrepreneurs who are new in the industry and without an adept knowledge of business management. It is also intended for existing business owners who want to streamline its process, mitigate any future risks, and scale its business.
With that in mind, if you are seeking funding, this business plan template already incorporates all the facets of a standard business plan. However, it may not precisely structure your potential investors or lenders are looking for.
What you can do is to check with your banks or investors and ask for their template. Alternatively, you can show this template and validate if this will cover everything they need.
What’s included in this business plan template?
This free business plan template is comprised of the following sections:
- Section 1: Executive Summary
A one or two-page overview that captures the whole essence of your business and the plans you’ve outlined. It is the most crucial section of the business plan and should be written and finalized after the other sections are completed.
- Section 2: Business Overview
It’s usually known as the operations or management plan. It outlines pertinent details about your business, such as management structure, vision and mission, processes, registrations, locations, staffing, and products/services.
- Section 3: The Market
This is typically an in-depth research of your market and other internal and external analysis (S.W.O.T.) that could affect your business. This expands to your customers up to your competitors.
- Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan
This business plan section outlines a description of how you aim to persuade your target customers to purchase your products/services. It involves the Marketing Mix (traditional: 4 P’s and extended: 7 P’s).
The Traditional Marketing Mix includes product, pricing, promotions, and placement. But, with the extended version, people, process, and physical evidence are included. Source: Marketing91
- Section 5: Ownership and Management Plan
This section of the business plan includes the ownership structure, management team, external sources and services needed for your business to operate.
A detailed organizational chart for a standard corporate business. Source: Creately
- Section 6: Operating Plan
This outlines the physical aspects needed, such as business location, production, inventory, supply, warehouse, retail space, facilities, equipment, staffing requirements, etc.
- Section 7: Financial Plan
This part is also a crucial selling point for those attracting financial investors. The financial plan describes particularly the funding requirements. The three main financial documents of any business are the balance sheet, the income statement and the cash flow statement.
- Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits
The last section of the business plan includes any other supporting materials needed to support the other sections of the plan.
Best practices when writing your business plan
Before you even proceed writing your business plan, you should keep in mind the following tips to avoid errors and make your plans as focused as possible:
- Research is fundamental: Your business plan involves a lot of decision-making process that will make or break your business. How you structure your business will definitely affect you in the long run, so make sure that you do your research and make sound decisions by backing up your choices with accurate data and forecasts.
- Take it one step at a time: Great things don’t happen overnight. Do not rush your business plan and definitely don’t attempt to finish it in one sitting. We recommend that you look at the whole business plan template, check the sections and other subsections and decide which parts apply to your business. You can start with the easiest sections and leave the hardest ones to prepare for more research.
- Write your executive summary last: While the executive summary is the first section of your business plan, it should be written last because it is your opening statement for whoever will read your business plan. It serves as your selling pitch to prospective investors, lenders, or partners. It also encapsulates all the highlighting statements of the other sections.
- Review and review some more: In a business plan, first impressions do last. Make sure that you review it religiously. Don’t be too complacent with one edit. Let your team proofread it at least thrice.
Planning for Success
Whether you are a fresh entrepreneur about to start a business or currently looking to expand your business or finding new ways to redefine your brand, business planning is a crucial step in making your goals and visions a reality.
With a business plan, you’ll understand where you are, what you want to achieve, and how you can get to your destination. And with our business plan template, you can get a good framework to streamline the process of planning for your success.