Simple Business Plan Template for Startups, Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Written by Dave Lavinsky

business plan template
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

What is a Business Plan Template?

A business plan template is a document that allows you to quickly write a detailed business plan. Among other things, it includes all key business plan sections: an executive summary, company description, industry and market analyses, competitive overview, marketing and operations plans, management team and five year financial projections.

Growthink’s business plan template is the result of 25+ years of research into the business plans that help entrepreneurs and small business owners attract potential investors, raise investment capital, and build successful companies.

The 10 Key Business Plan Template Sections

1. Executive Summary

The Executive Summary provides a high level synopsis of your business plan, including your company’s business concept, mission statement, company description and an overview of your product and service offerings.

The Executive Summary is the most important part of your business plan because if it doesn’t excite the reader, they won’t continue reading your plan, and they certainly won’t invest in your company.

Start your executive summary with a clear, concise one-line description of what your company does. This helps your readers instantly understand your business and sets the stage for what’s to come in your plan.

End this section with an overview of your projected 5-year income statement and if you are seeking capital, the amount of capital you need and how you will use it (e.g., for marketing, staff, etc.).

The goal of the executive summary is to excite readers and give them enough information to want to read the rest of your plan. The goal of your full business plan is to excite them enough to meet with you and ideally write you a check or otherwise support your business.

2. Company Overview

This business plan section provides an overview of your business and lets readers know your history.

Start this section with a concise explanation of your business. Then, answer key questions including the following:

  • What are the key products and services you offer/will offer.
  • Where are you located?
  • Why is your business uniquely qualified to succeed? For example, do you have a great management team, the perfect location, great technology, etc.?
  • When was your company formed?
  • What is your business’ legal structure (e.g., Corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Sole Proprietorship, Non-Profit Organization, or Not Yet Incorporated)?
  • What are your company’s accomplishments to date? For example, if you are an existing business, what were your sales last year. If you are a new business, accomplishments may include having designed your logo, finding the perfect location, hiring key personnel, etc.

As you can see, your company analysis gives readers a solid history of your company so they understand where you’ve been and where you’re going.

3. Industry Analysis

The industry analysis section of your plan describes the market in which your company will be competing, including market research, data on target market segments, and industry trends.

Begin this section with an overview of your industry. State the industry in which you are competing (e.g, the restaurant industry). Detail the current size of the industry and market trends that are affecting it. Importantly, discuss how these trends will positively affect your company’s success in the future.

In addition, detail your relevant market size. Your relevant market size is the annual revenue that your company could attain if you attained 100% market share.

Detailing your relevant market size helps readers to understand your company’s potential. For example, while the healthcare industry is a trillion dollar market, your company will not reap a trillion dollars in annual sales. However, if you are a medical device that helps people who snore, by multiplying the number of people who snore by the price of your product, you can calculate a more realistic figure of your company’s sales potential.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template

4. Customer Analysis

The customer analysis assesses your key customer segments and their needs. This helps you create products, services and marketing strategies that best resonate with your customers. It also shows readers you are customer-focused, which is key to most companies’ success.

Start by detailing who your key customers are. For example, are they people who snore? Local residents? HR managers at large companies?

Provide as many demographic (e.g., age, income, gender, location, family size, occupation, etc.) details about your target customers as possible. Likewise, document the psychographic variables you can use to describe your target customers. For example, what are their beliefs? What activities do they engage in?

Next, detail the needs of your target customers as they pertain to your products and services. For example, do they desire speed, reliability, comfort, convenience, low prices, comprehensive customer service, etc. Finally, show how your products and services will meet these needs.

5. Competitive Analysis

Your business plan must identify your direct and indirect competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and show your company’s competitive advantages.

Direct competitors are companies that fill the same customer need you do with the same or a similar solution. For example, direct competitors of a pizza shop would be other local pizza shops.

Indirect competitors are companies that fill the same customer need you do with a different solution. For example, a supermarket that sells frozen pizzas would be an indirect competitor to a pizza shop.

Finally, detail your competitive advantages, that is the reason(s) your company is positioned to outperform both direct and indirect competitors. Such reasons could include, among other things, having superior products and/or services, or better management and staffing, or a better location, or proprietary Intellectual Property (IP). Detail each of these competitive advantages here so readers understand them.

6. Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan must detail your key products and services, your pricing, your promotions plan and your distribution plan.

With regards to your key products and services, provide details on what they are. Include pictures and supporting information as appropriate.

Next, detail your pricing. Also document whether you will employ a premium, low-cost or competitive pricing strategy.

After this, document your promotions strategy, which details how you will find and secure new customers. For example, will you use online marketing, print ads, television ads, flyers, infomercials, etc. to reach your target customers?

Finally, if applicable, detail your distribution plan. If you are selling directly to your customers, you don’t need to include this information. But, if you are reaching customers through distributors and/or partners, detail this strategy so the readers understand it.

7. Operations Plan

Your operations plan must detail 1) the key day-to-day processes that your company performs to serve customers and 2) the key milestones your company expects to accomplish as you grow.

With regards to key day-to-day processes, documenting this ensures that both you and your readers understand what is required to run your business. For instance, for a laundromat, these processes might include, among others:

  • Ensuring all machines are operational and the facility is clean when you open, and that the premises are secure, machines are off, and the security system is on before closing.
  • Performing daily checks on washing machines and dryers and performing maintenance.
  • Keep track of laundry supplies, such as detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets, available for purchase.

The key milestones your company expects to accomplish as you grow keeps you and your company focused and accountable for achieving your desired results.

These milestones could include, among other things:

  • Hiring new employees
  • Reaching $X in sales
  • Securing your Nth customer
  • Launching a new location

8. Management Team

This section of your business plan should demonstrate that your company has the required management team and staff to be successful.

Document who your key team members are and why they are qualified to help your company succeed. This gives investors and lenders confidence that if they fund your business, it has a high likelihood of success.

As appropriate, you should also detail any management team gaps (key positions you are missing and expect to hire for in the future) and members of your board.

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9. Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year projected business financials including your pro forma income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. These statements should clearly illustrate your company’s revenue streams, sales volume and profitability over the next five years.

Detail key assumptions you made in creating your financial projections in this section and provide a summary of your five-year projected income statement. Your other projections will go in your business plan’s appendix.

In addition, if you are seeking funding for your company, detail the amount of funding you need and the key uses of the funds. For example, are you using the funds for product development, building out a location, staffing, marketing, etc.?

10. Appendix

The appendix supports your overall business plan and should include your full financial projections along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you can include details about your intellectual property, customer lists, building designs, etc.

Free Business Plan Template PDF

You can access our business plan pdf template here. This is a pdf version of our basic business plan template.

Our free business plan template pdf includes everything you need to include in your plan- executive summary, company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management plan, financial plan and appendix- and the key questions that each must answer. This free business plan template pdf will definitely get you started in the right direction.

We do offer a premium version of our business plan template. Click here to learn more about it. The premium version includes numerous features not available in the free template. Its most touted feature is its financial projections template which allows you to simply enter your estimated sales and growth rates, and it automatically calculates your complete five-year financial projections including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Here’s the link to our Ultimate Business Plan Template.

Why Use a Template for Your Business Plan

Using a business plan template will significantly cut down on the time it takes to complete your plan. Specifically, a template such as this one:

  • Starts you off with content already on the page. It’s hard to start any document from a blank page and having your key sections already listed is helpful.
  • Lays out the key questions you must answer in each section, so you have guidance on what information to include and where.
  • Helps you understand the questions you must focus on, and what’s not important, so you do a better job of conveying the key information readers need to know.

Business Plan Examples

It can be helpful to review sample business plans before starting your own business planning process. You can download our sample business plan pdf here to help you get started.

Remember, a critical part of your plan is to explain why your company is uniquely qualified to succeed, so resist the urge to copy a business plan sample completely. Also, importantly, a business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

We also have over 300 business plan examples and free business plan templates available for you to develop a professional business plan.

Writing a Business Plan and Business Plan Template FAQs

business plan template Download our free simple business plan template for use in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or another word processing software to write a business plan.

Our startup business plan template includes an outline of each of the 10 key sections to help you write a plan to start a new business, grow your existing business, and/or help you secure funding such as a business loan from the Small Business Administration, local bank, grants, angel investors, venture capitalists, or from other financial institutions.

Unlike our premium version, our free templates do not include all the key sub-sections, the questions that walk you through step-by-step, the professional cover page designs, nor the financial projections template that allows you to create a professional financial plan in minutes.

Learn more about the World’s #1 Best Business Plan Template, here. (Rated 4.9 Stars on Reseller Ratings)

Use the simple business plan template below and answer the questions in each section to create a simple business plan for your company.

How To Write a Simple Business Plan

  1. Describe Your Business and Business Goals in the Executive Summary

Company Overview

  • 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?

Success Factors

  • 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?
  1. Conduct Market Research To Develop a Comprehensive Industry Analysis

Market 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)?
  1. Better Understand Your Target Customers Through a Customer Analysis

Target Market

  • Who are your target customers?
  • What are their primary needs when choosing a product/service provider such as your company?
  1. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Competitors Through a Competitive Analysis

Competitive Advantage

  • 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?
  1. Describe How You Will Reach Your Potential Customers Through a Targeted Marketing Plan

Marketing Strategy

  • 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) ?

Pricing Strategy

  • How will you price your product or service?
  • What discounts or promotions will you offer?
  1. Describe Your Management Team and the Experience They Bring To the Table.

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?
  1. Calculate Realistic Financial Projections to Develop Your Business’s Financial Plan

Financial Model

  • 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.


A startup business plan is nearly identical to writing a business plan for an established business. The main difference between a startup business plan and business plans for an existing company is that established businesses should focus more on discussing past accomplishments and rely on historical data in their financial forecasts. In a startup business plan, the company needs to spend more time validating future forecasts since there’s no hard data on which to base them and proving that you will be a successful business owner.

A startup business plan template provides a road map to long-term success and business growth. It should include the same 10 key components of all business plans:

  1. Describe your business, mission and long-term goals in the executive summary.
  2. Explain the structure of your business, the physical location, and other basic business information in the company overview.
  3. Research your industry to explain current trends and influential factors for your business through a complete industry analysis.
  4. Identify the demographics and purchasing habits of your ideal customer in a detailed customer analysis.
  5. Better understand what your business is up against with a competitive analysis to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Develop a marketing plan that will help you reach your ideal customers, drive traffic to your website, and increase conversions.
  7. Create an operations plan that describes your day-to-day processes and procedures that make your business successful.
  8. Describe the management team that will be responsible for the success of your business.
  9. Create a comprehensive financial plan with realistic projections of where your business will be in the next 3-5 years.
  10. Attach supporting documents, financial statements, etc. in the appendix.

Learn the step-by-step writing process for how to write a comprehensive business plan and get a startup business plan template.

Anyone can write a business plan following the traditional business plan template, it’s important to remember that the most important part of your plan is to explain why your company is uniquely qualified to succeed and have strong financial data to support your business idea. This is why it’s important to do your market research to have a clear understanding of your industry, market analysis, target customer, and competitive landscape.

If you have a complex business or need help writing a professional plan, it can be helpful to use business plan software, hire an expert business plan consulting firm, or a business plan writer.  So, while you may want to write your business plan, the experience of a consultant can help you develop a more thorough and achievable business plan for you to attract investors, secure funding and/or grow your business. They will also be able to provide helpful tips to help navigate the business planning process.

Learn more about Growthink’s expert business plan consultants and how we have helped develop winning business plans for countless happy customers.

A business plan is a very important document for any business. It helps you to outline your goals and business objectives, as well as how you plan to achieve them. If you're looking for a printable business plan template, there are a few different options available to you.

One option is to download a free business plan template. Be aware that free business plan templates are often generic for any type of business, so while it will help you write your business plan, you may need to do some additional editing before using them.

Another option is to purchase a template from a business planning company. These types of business plan templates are of higher quality and include a range of features that can help you to create professional-looking business plans and financial model including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.

Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your needs and budget. If you're looking for high-quality, printable business plan templates that are easy to edit, then a purchasing a business plan template is the best option. If you're on a tight budget or you don't need a lot of features, then a free, simple business plan template may be a better choice. Whichever option you choose, make sure to take the time to customize the template to fit your specific business.

Yes, a written business plan is nearly always required when seeking financing.  You need a business plan whether you are a small business, a startup, an existing business looking to grow or a seasoned business owner. Business plans fall into three common categories: business plans for funding, those used for strategy, and business plans for both fundraising and strategy.

Regardless of their business model, many business owners use their business plans to raise bank loans to grow. The funding request allows them to acquire additional business resources and improve their financial health. New business owners often seek bank loans and SBA Loans as well as funding from angel investors and/or friends and family.

Importantly, regardless of the source of funding you desire, a good business plan will stand out to a potential investor by showing compelling reasons why you will achieve financial success. A successful business plan must clearly highlight the business opportunity and want investors to buy in.  Investors will recognize a well researched business plan. A winning business plan will help you achieve long-term success, business growth and secure funding.

This business plan template can and has been used by businesses in every imaginable sector. We created this template to be highly flexible and have seen entrepreneurs use it with great success in numerous business types.

This being said, we have also developed many sector-specific templates. Some of our more popular ones are as follows.

Our brewery business plan template has helped numerous breweries launch and grow. 

Our medical practice business plan template has been used by doctors and other health practitioners to start new practices. Also in the medical field, our pharmacy business plan template has allowed numerous pharmacists to start their own businesses.

As states pass new legislation, our dispensary business plan template has been extremely helpful in allowing entrepreneurs to launch new real locations. And in towns across the world, new laundromats have arisen thanks to entrepreneurs and new business owners using our laundromat business plan template

Dave Lavinsky is an internationally renowned expert in business planning, capital raising & new venture development. He has helped over 1 million entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses over the past 25 years.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template