Steps to Write a Simple Business Plan Template
1. Executive Summary
- What type of company are you operating (e.g., a software company, a bakery, etc.)?
- Are you offering a product or a service?
- What is the legal structure of your company (e.g., sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, etc.)?
- What is your mission statement and value proposition?
- What is the company’s history?
- What is your business model and business idea?
- Is there a market pain that your business solves?
- What is it about your company that makes it (or will make it) uniquely qualified to succeed?
- What milestones has your company achieved to demonstrate success?
2. Industry Analysis
- In what market are you competing (e.g., the fast-food market, the running shoe market)?
- How big is the industry and is that size big enough?
- Are there positive or negative trends affecting the market (e.g., is it growing/shrinking, is government regulation on the horizon that could change the market analysis)?
3. Customer Analysis
- Who are your target customers?
- What are their primary needs when choosing a product/service provider such as your company?
4. Competitive Analysis
- With whom will your company compete and how will your company better serve customer needs than your competitors?
- How else will you “beat” your competition? What are your key points of differentiation and your value proposition?
- How does your product or service compare to those offered by the competition?
5. Marketing Plan
- What is your product or service offering?
- What marketing and sales strategies will you use to attract customers? and what promotional methods will you employ (e.g., radio advertising, pay-per-click ads) ?
- How will you price your product or service?
- What discounts or promotions will you offer?
6. Management Team
Key Members of the Team
- Who is on your management team?
- What experiences, relationships, etc. do they possess that will help your venture succeed? Have they ever run other businesses?
- Are there key employees that you must hire in the future to improve your company’s odds of success?
- Do you have any business partners that take part in developing the business strategy?
7. Financial Plan
- What is the main financial information about your company (revenue and expense projections)?
- How much outside funding (if any) do you need? What are your specific needs? (equipment, supplies,e etc.)
- What are your revenue streams? How much revenue can you really generate each year over the next five years?
- Are the profit margins high enough to sustain the company?
- What are your loss projections?
Completing this simple business plan template will provide a road map to completing your business plan and force you to answer key questions about your company which will help in determining its feasibility and likelihood for success.
For example, in choosing the ideal promotions strategy to attract new clients, you will be able to estimate the cost of acquiring new customers. This will allow you to compare that cost to your estimated customer lifetime value and ensure healthy profit margins are possible (or not).
Likewise, a competitive analysis might alert you to stiffer competition than you imagined and prompt you to opt for a new business idea or creatively come up with ways to outmaneuver competitors.
On a similar note, in completing this lean business plan, you might realize the market size isn’t big enough to support the large, thriving enterprise you’d like to create. Or perhaps market trends are moving away from the problems your company’s products and services solve.
Yet another example of the importance of this exercise is that it forces you to really think about your target customers. The better and more narrowly you can define your target customers, the more cost-effectively you’ll be able to attract them and the more successful you can be in developing a value proposition that appeals to them.
In any case, a simple business plan template allows you to better understand your venture and what it will take to make it successful.
Two additional types of simple business plan templates:
- One-page business plan- A one-page business plan is a compressed version of a traditional business plan that fits neatly into a single page. It usually includes only high level information about your business. Looking for a one-page business plan? Learn more and download our free one-page business plan template.
- Lean Business plan- A lean startup is supported by a one-page business plan that does not require extensive financial information, market research and/or business development plans. The lean startup needs to focus on factors that present immediate opportunities in order to gain a competitive advantage. Looking for a lean business plan? Learn more about the lean business planning process.