Business Plan Template for Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Our Proven 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 an introduction, executive summary, company description, and marketing plan. Get started writing a business plan today by using our business plan template below.

Growthink’s business plan template is the result of 20+ years of research into the business plans that help entrepreneurs and small business owners attract potential investors, raise investment capital, and build successful companies.

10 Key Elements & How To Write a Business Plan

Using the following traditional business plan format, you will be able to write a proper business plan for your new or growing business.

Writing a Business Plan FAQs

business plan templateFirst, click here to download our free simple business plan template for use in Word, Google Docs, or another word processing software.

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.

Click here to learn more about the World’s #1 Best-Selling Business Plan Template.

business plan template

Click here to download the pdf version of our basic business plan template.

Our free business plan template pdf allows you to see the key sections to complete in your plan and the key questions that each must answer. The business plan 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 allowing you to quickly and easily create a professional business plan. 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.

A simple business plan might be more appropriate for you if you are merely deciding whether your new business idea is viable or not. However, if you are trying to secure funds for your business, this template would not be appropriate.

Traditional business plans typically include 10 essential elements. However, the following basic business plan format only has 7 sections. You can copy and paste this step-by-step plan template into your favorite word processing software (e.g., Microsoft Word, etc.) and then answer the questions in each section to write your business plan easily.

I. Executive Summary

Company Description
  • What type of company are you operating (e.g., a software company, a bakery, etc.)?
  • What is the legal structure of your company (e.g., sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, etc.)?
  • What is your mission statement?
  • What is the company's history?
  • What is your business model?
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?

II. Industry Analysis

Market Analysis
  • In what market are you competing (e.g., the fast-food market, the running shoe market)? 
  • How big is the target market 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)?

III. Customer Analysis

Target Market
  • Who are your target customers?
  • What are their primary needs when choosing a product/service provider such as your company?

IV. 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?

V. Marketing Plan

Marketing Strategy
  • What key products/services will you offer and what promotional methods (e.g., radio advertising, pay-per-click ads) will you use to attract customers?
Pricing Strategy
  • How will you price your products/services?
  • What discounts or promotions will you offer?

VI. 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? 
  • 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?

VII. Financial Plan

Financial Model
  • What are the main financial implications of your company? 
  • How much outside funding (if any) do you need? 
  • How much revenue can you really generate each year over the next five years? 
  • Are the profit margins high enough to sustain the company?

Completing this simple template will 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 free template, 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, completing this simple template allows you to better understand your venture and what it will take to make it successful.

Looking for a lean business plan? Learn more about the lean business planning process.

Looking for a one-page business plan? Learn more and download our free one-page business plan template. 

It can be helpful to review sample business plans before starting your own business planning process. Below, you will find 4 sample business plans for inspiration. 

Restaurant Business Plan Hotel Business Plan Record Label Business Plan Bakery Business Plan

Remember, the most important part of your plan is to explain why your company is uniquely qualified to succeed, so resist the urge to copy a sample plan completely.

We have over 200 business plan examples and free business plan templates available for you to develop a well-researched business plan.

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 a plan 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.

Learn the step-by-step writing process for how to write a comprehensive business plan

While anyone can write a successful business plan following a 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. This is why it’s important to do your market research to have a clear understanding of your industry, target markets, 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. The experience of a consultant can help you develop a thorough and achievable business plan for you to secure funding and/or grow your business.

Learn more about Growthink’s expert business plan consultants and how we can help you develop a winning business plan.

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 you may need to do some additional editing before using them.

Another option is to purchase a template from a business planning company. This type of printable business plan template is of higher quality and includes a range of features that can help you to create a professional-looking business plan 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 a high-quality, printable business plan template that is easy to edit, then a purchased template is the best option. If you're on a tight budget or you don't need a lot of features, then a free 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 business plan is nearly always required when seeking financing. Business plans fall into three common categories: those used for funding, those used for strategy, and those used for both fundraising and strategy.

Regardless of their business model, many business owners use their plans to raise bank loans to grow. The funding allows them to acquire additional business resources and improve their financial health. New business owners often seek bank loans as well as funding from angel investors and/or friends and family. Importantly, regardless of the source of funding you desire, you must make your business plan stand out from the others by showing compelling reasons why you will be successful.


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