How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated February 2, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: How to collaborate with AI on your business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

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Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

Streamline Your Business Planning Activities with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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10 Free Business Plan Templates in Word, Excel, & ClickUp

ClickUp Contributor

February 13, 2024

Turning your vision into a clear and coherent business plan can be confusing and tough. 

Hours of brainstorming and facing an intimidating blank page can raise more questions than answers. Are you covering everything? What should go where? How do you keep each section thorough but brief?

If these questions have kept you up at night and slowed your progress, know you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve put together the top 10 business plan templates in Word, Excel, and ClickUp—to provide answers, clarity, and a structured framework to work with. This way, you’re sure to capture all the relevant information without wasting time. 

And the best part? Business planning becomes a little less “ugh!” and a lot more “aha!” 🤩

What is a Business Plan Template?

What makes a good business plan template, 1. clickup business plan template, 2. clickup sales plan template, 3. clickup business development action plan template, 4. clickup business roadmap template, 5. clickup business continuity plan template, 6. clickup lean business plan template, 7. clickup small business action plan template, 8. clickup strategic business roadmap template , 9. microsoft word business plan template by microsoft, 10. excel business plan template by vertex42.

A business plan template is a structured framework for entrepreneurs and business executives who want to create business plans. It comes with pre-arranged sections and headings that cover key elements like the executive summary , business overview, target customers, unique value proposition, marketing plans, and financial statements.  

A good business plan template helps with thorough planning, clear documentation, and practical implementation. Here’s what to look for:

  • Comprehensive structure: A good template comes with all the relevant sections to outline a business strategy, such as executive summary, market research and analysis, and financial projections 
  • Clarity and guidance: A good template is easy to follow. It has brief instructions or prompts for each section, guiding you to think deeply about your business and ensuring you don’t skip important details
  • Clean design: Aesthetics matter. Choose a template that’s not just functional but also professionally designed. This ensures your plan is presentable to stakeholders, partners, and potential investors
  • Flexibility : Your template should easily accommodate changes without hassle, like adding or removing sections, changing content and style, and rearranging parts 🛠️ 

While a template provides the structure, it’s the information you feed it that brings it to life. These pointers will help you pick a template that aligns with your business needs and clearly showcases your vision.

10 Business Plan Templates to Use in 2024

Preparing for business success in 2024 (and beyond) requires a comprehensive and organized business plan. We’ve handpicked the best templates to help you guide your team, attract investors, and secure funding. Let’s check them out.

ClickUp Business Plan Template

If you’re looking to replace a traditional business plan document, then ClickUp’s Business Plan Template is for you!

This one-page business plan template, designed in ClickUp Docs , is neatly broken down into the following sections:

  • Company description : Overview, mission, vision, and team
  • Market analysis : Problem, solution, target market, competition, and competitive advantage
  • Sales and marketing strategy : Products/services and marketing channels
  • Operational plan : Location and facilities, equipment and tools, manpower, and financial forecasts
  • Milestones and metrics: Targets and KPIs

Customize the template with your company logo and contact details, and easily navigate to different sections using the collapsible table of contents. The mini prompts under each section guide you on what to include—with suggestions on how to present the data (e.g., bullet lists, pictures, charts, and tables). 

You can share the document with anyone via URL and collaborate in real time. And when the business plan is ready, you have the option to print it or export it to PDF, HTML, or Markdown.

But that’s not all. This template is equipped with basic and enterprise project management features to streamline the business plan creation process . The Topics List view has a list of all the different sections and subsections of the template and allows you to assign it to a team member, set a due date, and attach relevant documents and references.

Switch from List to Board view to track and update task statuses according to the following: To Do, In Progress, Needs Revision, and Complete. 

This template is a comprehensive toolkit for documenting the different sections of your business plan and streamlining the creation process to ensure it’s completed on time. 🗓️

ClickUp Sales Plan Template

If you’re looking for a tool to kickstart or update your sales plan, ClickUp’s Sales Plan Template has got you covered. This sales plan template features a project summary list with tasks to help you craft a comprehensive and effective sales strategy. Some of these tasks include:

  • Determine sales objectives and goals
  • Draft positioning statement
  • Perform competitive analysis
  • Draft ideal customer persona
  • Create a lead generation strategy

Assign each task to a specific individual or team, set priority levels , and add due dates. Specify what section of the sales plan each task belongs to (e.g., executive summary, revenue goals, team structure, etc.), deliverable type (such as document, task, or meeting), and approval state (like pending, needs revisions, and approved).

And in ClickUp style, you can switch to multiple views: List for a list of all tasks, Board for visual task management, Timeline for an overview of task durations, and Gantt to get a view of task dependencies. 

This simple business plan template is perfect for any type of business looking to create a winning sales strategy while clarifying team roles and keeping tasks organized. ✨

ClickUp Business Development Action Plan Template

Thinking about scaling your business’s reach and operations but unsure where or how to start? It can be overwhelming, no doubt—you need a clear vision, measurable goals, and an actionable plan that every member of your team can rally behind. 

Thankfully, ClickUp’s Business Development Action Plan Template is designed to use automations to simplify this process so every step toward your business growth is clear, trackable, and actionable.

Start by assessing your current situation and deciding on your main growth goal. Are you aiming to increase revenue, tap into new markets, or introduce new products or services? With ClickUp Whiteboards or Docs, brainstorm and collaborate with your team on this decision.

Set and track your short- and long-term growth goals with ClickUp’s Goals , break them down into smaller targets, and assign these targets to team members, complete with due dates. Add these targets to a new ClickUp Dashboard to track real-time progress and celebrate small wins. 🎉

Whether you’re a startup or small business owner looking to hit your next major milestone or an established business exploring new avenues, this template keeps your team aligned, engaged, and informed every step of the way.

ClickUp Business Roadmap Template

ClickUp’s Business Roadmap Template is your go-to for mapping out major strategies and initiatives in areas like revenue growth, brand awareness, community engagement, and customer satisfaction. 

Use the List view to populate tasks under each initiative. With Custom Fields, you can capture which business category (e.g., Product, Operations, Sales & Marketing, etc.) tasks fall under and which quarter they’re slated for. You can also link to relevant documents and resources and evaluate tasks by effort and impact to ensure the most critical tasks get the attention they deserve. 👀

Depending on your focus, this template provides different views to show just what you need. For example, the All Initiatives per Quarter view lets you focus on what’s ahead by seeing tasks that need completion within a specific quarter. This ensures timely execution and helps in aligning resources effectively for the short term.

This template is ideal for business executives and management teams who need to coordinate multiple short- and long-term initiatives and business strategies.

ClickUp Business Continuity Plan Template

In business, unexpected threats to operations can arise at any moment. Whether it’s economic turbulence, a global health crisis, or supply chain interruptions, every company needs to be ready. ClickUp’s Business Continuity Plan Template lets you prepare proactively for these unforeseen challenges.

The template organizes tasks into three main categories:

  • Priorities: Tasks that need immediate attention
  • Continuity coverage: Tasks that must continue despite challenges
  • Guiding principles: Resources and protocols to ensure smooth operations

The Board view makes it easy to visualize all the tasks under each of these categories. And the Priorities List sorts tasks by those that are overdue, the upcoming ones, and then the ones due later.

In times of uncertainty, being prepared is your best strategy. This template helps your business not just survive but thrive in challenging situations, keeping your customers, employees, and investors satisfied. 🤝

ClickUp Lean Business Plan Template

Looking to execute your business plan the “lean” way? Use ClickUp’s Lean Business Plan Template . It’s designed to help you optimize resource usage and cut unnecessary steps—giving you better results with less effort.

In the Plan Summary List view, list all the tasks that need to get done. Add specific details like who’s doing each task, when it’s due, and which part of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) it falls under. The By Priority view sorts this list based on priorities like Urgent, High, Normal, and Low. This makes it easy to spot the most important tasks and tackle them first.

Additionally, the Board view gives you an overview of task progression from start to finish. And the BMC view rearranges these tasks based on the various BMC components. 

Each task can further be broken down into subtasks and multiple checklists to ensure all related action items are executed. ✔️

This template is an invaluable resource for startups and large enterprises looking to maximize process efficiencies and results in a streamlined and cost-effective way.

ClickUp Small Business Action Plan Template

The Small Business Action Plan Template by ClickUp is tailor-made for small businesses looking to transform their business ideas and goals into actionable steps and, eventually, into reality. 

It provides a simple and organized framework for creating, assigning, prioritizing, and tracking tasks. And in effect, it ensures that goals are not just set but achieved. Through the native dashboard and goal-setting features, you can monitor task progress and how they move you closer to achieving your goals.

Thanks to ClickUp’s robust communication features like chat, comments, and @mentions, it’s easy to get every team member on the same page and quickly address questions or concerns.

Use this action plan template to hit your business goals by streamlining your internal processes and aligning team efforts.

ClickUp Strategic Business Roadmap Template 

For larger businesses and scaling enterprises, getting different departments to work together toward a big goal can be challenging. The ClickUp Strategic Business Roadmap Template makes it easier by giving you a clear plan to follow.

This template is packaged in a folder and split into different lists for each department in your business, like Sales, Product, Marketing, and Enablement. This way, every team can focus on their tasks while collectively contributing to the bigger goal.

There are multiple viewing options available for team members. These include:

  • Progress Board: Visualize tasks that are on track, those at risk, and those behind
  • Gantt view: Get an overview of project timelines and dependencies
  • Team view: See what each team member is working on so you can balance workloads for maximum productivity

While this template may feel overwhelming at first, the getting started guide offers a step-by-step breakdown to help you navigate it with ease. And like all ClickUp templates, you can easily customize it to suit your business needs and preferences.

Microsoft Word Business Plan Template by Microsoft

Microsoft’s 20-page traditional business plan template simplifies the process of drafting comprehensive business plans. It’s made up of different sections, including:

  • Executive summary : Highlights, objectives, mission statement, and keys to success
  • Description of business: Company ownership and legal structure, hours of operation, products and services, suppliers, financial plans, etc.
  • Marketing: Market analysis, market segmentation, competition, and pricing
  • Appendix: Start-up expenses, cash flow statements, income statements, sales forecast, milestones, break-even analysis, etc.

The table of contents makes it easy to move to different sections of the document. And the text placeholders under each section provide clarity on the specific details required—making the process easier for users who may not be familiar with certain business terminology.

Excel Business Plan Template by Vertex42

No business template roundup is complete without an Excel template. This business plan template lets you work on your business financials in Excel. It comes with customizable tables, formulas, and charts to help you look at the following areas:

  • Highlight charts
  • Market analysis
  • Start-up assets and expenses
  • Sales forecasts
  • Profit and loss
  • Balance sheet
  • Cash flow projections
  • Break-even analysis

This Excel template is especially useful when you want to create a clear and visual financial section for your business plan document—an essential element for attracting investors and lenders. However, there might be a steep learning curve to using this template if you’re not familiar with business financial planning and using Excel.

Try a Free Business Plan Template in ClickUp

Launching and running a successful business requires a well-thought-out and carefully crafted business plan. However, the business planning process doesn’t have to be complicated, boring, or take up too much time. Use any of the above 10 free business plan formats to simplify and speed up the process.

ClickUp templates go beyond offering a solid foundation to build your business plans. They come with extensive project management features to turn your vision into reality. And that’s not all— ClickUp’s template library offers over 1,000 additional templates to help manage various aspects of your business, from decision-making to product development to resource management .

Sign up for ClickUp’s Free Forever Plan today to fast-track your business’s growth! 🏆

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Simple business plan template for startup founders

simple business plan example doc

Most new businesses that fail do so for one of two reasons: (1) lack of market need and/or (2) no more cash.

These two reasons account for more than 70% of new businesses not making it. However, both causes can often be avoided if founders invest upfront time in developing a carefully researched business plan.

A simple business plan template provides a proven framework to start from, concisely helps structure ideas, and shows potential investors what an organized and professional team looks like — one that can bring this business idea to market.

This article will share our custom-developed, simple business plan template, cover what should be included, and more.

Get the template

What is a simple business plan template?

A business plan is a written document outlining how a company intends to achieve its primary objectives — obtaining a particular market share, growing revenue, or reaching the next round of funding.

Download Excel template

While companies of all stages and sizes use business plans, they are beneficial for startups, as they can be the key to attaining funding.

A business plan template is a customizable document that provides all the crucial and necessary elements of a great business plan, allowing company leaders to start from a solid and established foundation rather than from scratch.

A simple business plan template typically includes:

  • table of contents
  • executive summary
  • company description
  • analysis of the target market
  • description of the management team
  • details of the product or service
  • financial forecasts
  • funding requirements
  • appendices such as legal documents, permits, patents, and licenses

Business plans can quickly become huge, cumbersome documents, requiring a significant time investment from the creator. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends business plans be between 30 and 50 pages long.

While there is some benefit to spending this time developing a comprehensive business plan, agility is often more critical in the startup business world. That’s the main reason why simple business plan templates exist.

Simple business plan templates typically follow a structure outlining goals, teams, and financials.

  • Company description : What does the business do? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who is involved? What key hires have been made? What expertise do they bring to the table? Why are they the right team to get the job done?
  • Industry and competitive analysis: Who are the company’s competitors? What are they doing well and not so well? What opportunities exist to differentiate and be successful in this industry?
  • Target market: Who are the customers being targeted? What are their interests? What are their everyday challenges and goals?
  • Timeline : What are the critical dates for tasks/goals?
  • Marketing plan : How will the plan attract new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do current revenue streams, cash on hand, revenue structure, required funding or funding already received, etc., look like.

Why use a simple business plan template?

We highly recommend founders use a simple business plan template, mainly for the speed and agility they offer.

Creating a business plan takes time and effort, no matter how many times it’s been done. Even a simple, one-page business plan designed for small businesses requires a fair bit of research.

Each section of the business needs to be analyzed. First, it’s essential to understand the market conditions and have a step-by-step plan. Then finally, it’s necessary to determine the plan’s structure.

Templates are even more crucial for first-time startup founders. 

It’s understandable not to be super-confident in the first (or 2nd or 3rd) business plan writing process. A proven framework will help all — even seasoned veterans, ensure they:

  • Don’t miss any critical elements.
  • Structure ideas neatly and concisely.
  • Foster a sense of professionalism, improving the confidence of potential investors

What are some examples of simple business plan templates?

These sample business plan templates serve as a great jumping-off point. Use them as inspiration. Take note of the similarities across the different examples.

1. One-page business plan template

A one-page business plan template is perfect for creating a plan to bring to the next startup pitch. But of course, supplementing the template with appendices for financial reports like balance sheets or income statements is important.

Summarizing the entire business into a single page is a great exercise. It ensures a robust and concise knowledge of each area of operation, creating more confidence to discuss each point with potential investors.

A breakdown how to create a simple business plan template in five steps

( Image Source )

2. Simple business plan template in Excel

While Excel does not have all the bells and whistles, it’s still a popular and widely-used platform — one that many founders choose to use to create simple business plans. This template can be used for any type of business, though it’s built for early-stage startups to plan out the first few months in business.

Notice how the template breaks overall costs down into smaller, more detailed items. This is useful to understand better the costs associated with starting a new business. Noting when those costs are owed also helps business owners monitor cash flow.

Simple business plan template in an Excel spreadsheet

3. Startup business plan template

Here’s another excellent example of a business plan template built for startups.

What’s great about this template is rather than providing simple headers for each section, it includes questions and prompts to help guide the necessary information.

A simple business plan template with prompt questions

4. Lean business plan template

Lean business is a style of startup operation that focuses on minimizing waste, moving fast, and keeping costs low. It’s a popular methodology for companies wanting to get off the ground quickly and build revenue without raising significant funding.

This business plan template supports startups based on the lean concept, allowing for a simple, single-page business plan with minimal time investment.

A table detailing how to fill out a lean, simple business plan template

monday.com’s simple business plan template

Most free business plan templates come in PDF, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word formats. Unfortunately, while these are popular formats and tools, they don’t tend to be particularly collaborative.

Have a distributed team? The monday.com simple business plan template will be your best friend.

A screenshot of a simple business plan template from monday.com

Customize it to include all the fields necessary for a stellar business plan plus any additional ones unique to your business. But the most significant benefit of the template is the platform it’s built on .

The monday.com Work OS means building apps and workflows is simple. Customizing fields and columns to fit what the company is already doing, not the other way around. For example, once a business plan has been created using the monday.com simple template, it’s super-easy to set up a collaborative board to manage the marketing plan , assign tasks and due dates to employees and freelancers, and turn that business plan into reality.

A main table view of the monday.com simple business plan template

Simple business plan template tips & tricks

Here are a few tips to make the most of this template and create a business plan that works.

1. Use simple, approachable language.

The goal is for people to read the business plan, right? Using everyday language over complex jargon and corporate terminology is an excellent place to start. Then, ensuring anyone who comes across the plan will have no issue understanding its meaning.

2. Write the executive summary last.

The executive summary is a short section that summarizes every aspect of the business plan. So, first, write the entire plan. THEN write the executive summary.

3. Supplement the business plan with supporting documents

While simple business plans are fast and effective, they leave out a lot of information by nature. Consider supplementing the plan with appendices such as financial statements , data sets, and market analyses.

4. Be conservative with financial estimates.

Where possible, financial projections should be based on real-life data. But even with the most accurate and up-to-date information out there, there’s always room for interpretation. So it’s best to give a range where possible, and if not, stay conservative with financial estimates.

5. Include thorough research and analysis

Invest the time early on and capture accurate, comprehensive data to support all claims. Interview customers and prospects to get a realistic picture of the target audience. Consider hiring a professional firm to provide a market research report.

FAQs about simple business plan templates

How do i write a simple business plan.

Simple business plans can be as little as one page with concise writing. Include information for each of these sections:

  • Company description : What does the company do and sell? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who works for the company, and what value do they provide?
  • Industry : What competitors or other options exist?
  • Target market : What does the ideal customer look like?
  • Marketing strategy and plan : What is the plan to bring in new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do the revenue streams look like?

What are the 7 parts of a business plan?

A 7-part business plan starts with the executive summary, moves on to describe the company, and finishes with financials.

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Organization and management team
  • Products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Strategy and implementation timeline
  • Financial plan and projections

What are common mistakes in a business plan?

Typical business plan mistakes include:

  • not being research-driven
  • unrealistic financial estimates
  • providing too much information
  • not using data to back up claims
  • not offering an analysis of the competitive landscape
  • only outlining vague goals and priorities

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simple business plan example doc

Create a business plan

You've been dreaming of starting your own business. You've started with some concrete steps, and you're ready to put your proposal together. But how do you start, and how do you know when you have the right information?

How to get it done

Create a business plan with templates in Word:

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Start with a template

Download these templates from the Office Templates site to create your plan:

Fill in your Business plan .

Analyze your market with the Business market analysis template .

Detail your financials in a Financial plan .

Divide up the work and track deliverables with this Business plan checklist .

Wrap up with this Business startup checklist .

Need a little help?

Learn how to:

Start a document from a template .

Apply themes to change your plan's look.

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Didn't find what you are looking for.

The answer is simple.

It’s an informal business plan that can convince you that your idea makes sense to the outside world because you are investing your time, money, and everything into that idea.

To write a business plan, maybe you think you don’t need a step-by-step guide or a sample business plan . After all, some entrepreneurs achieved success without writing a business plan. With great timing, past business experiences, entrepreneurial ambitions, and a little luck, some entrepreneurs build successful businesses without even writing an informal business plan.

But the odds are greater than those entrepreneurs fail.

And that’s why writing a business plan will help you succeed .

The easiest way to simplify the work of writing a business plan is to start with sample business plans.

What is business plan sample?

Why you should refer a business plan example, who should use business plan examples, how to use sample business plans.

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What is Business Plan Sample?

That’s why we created business plan examples to help you get started.

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Use our 400+ business plan examples written for all industries and write your business plan in half of the time with twice the impact.

simple business plan example doc

  • Guidance on what to include in each section.  If you’ve never attended business school, you might never have created a  SWOT analysis   or a balance sheet before. Business templates that give guidance — in plain language — about what to include and how to fill in each section and create a complete and effective plan.
  • A business plan is vital to get an investment.  If you’re seeking investment for your business, you’ll need to convince banks and investors why they should invest in your business . Lenders and investors will only risk their time and money if they’re certain that your business will be successful and profitable and they will get a great return on their investment.
  • A business plan can help you prioritize.  A complete, well-balanced business plan is one of the most valuable tools in assisting you to reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your goals, outlines out strategies to reach your goals, and helps you to manage possible bumps in the way.

Who should use Business Plan Examples?

simple business plan example doc

Well Everyone, who wants to write a business plan should use these sample business plans. These plans apply to almost all industries.

We have created a library of professional sample business plans from a wide variety of industries to help you start writing your business plan with minimum effort.

Use our Upmetrics — business plan software that offers step by step guide to start writing your business plan , especially if you’re writing an informal business plan to get a bank loan or outside investment.

Our extensive sample business plans library includes  business plan templates  and  business plan examples  for almost all business industries.

Make your plan in half the time & twice the impact with Upmetrics.

simple business plan example doc

How to use Business Plan Examples to write your own?

Having real-life and industry-specific business plan examples by your side can be incredibly resourceful to help you write a business plan from scratch. 

A well-planned structure helps you outline your plan, while content inspiration helps you set the tone for your business document. 

Let’s dive deep and understand how to use these examples effectively to write your business plan.

1. Use examples as a guide

2. understanding the structure.

Traditional business plans generally follow a similar structure. 

It starts with an executive summary followed by a company description, market analysis, product and services, sales and marketing strategies, operational plan, management team, financial plan, and appendix.

Using an example business plan is the best way to understand the structure and outline your plan. 

3. Gaining Inspiration

Reading industry-specific business plan examples can help you gain inspiration for your plan. You can gain insights on presenting your business idea, vision, mission, and values and persuade investors to invest in your idea.

4. Learning Industry-Specific Language

There’s no universal template for business planning that fits all. An industry-specific template can help you learn and understand the business language for your industry and the best way to communicate your message to your investors.

5. Identifying Key Elements

Reading business plan examples of similar businesses can help you identify the key elements and information to include in your plan. You can keep note of these and ensure everything necessary for investors to consider is present in your final draft.

6. Crafting Financial Projections

A financial plan is a critical component of your business plan, and a good business plan example can help you better understand how they project their financials which can be incredibly helpful while forecasting yours.

7. Refining Your Executive Summary

As mentioned earlier, your executive summary is a key factor influencing potential investors and lenders to invest or lend you money. Analyzing free business plan templates can help you optimize your executive summary to make it more brief, persuasive, and attention-grabbing.

8. Realizing What Works and What Doesn’t

Analyzing industry-specific and real-life examples can help you determine what works best and what doesn’t within your industry. Understanding these factors can help you avoid many significant pitfalls.

While business plan examples can be incredibly helpful in writing a plan from scratch, ensure your plan is customized for your business and sends out a unique message. Your business plan must reflect its unique idea, vision, and target market.

Using your Business Plan as a Management Tool

It’s essential to have a business plan, but it’s also crucial to keep it up to date as your business progresses. A business plan is not merely a document that you write once and forget after you get started. It’s a business road map and vision that you should develop as your business progresses and evolves. It’s also important to update your business plan regularly as your business situation and position change.

How Business Plan Software can help you?

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We have created Upmetrics — business plan software to simplify the process of business planning.

Our financial forecasting module will create all the essential reports automatically. You just need to enter numbers and the application will do all the math to generate your financial reports. Later you can embed those reports into your business plan.

After completing your business plan, you can download your business plan in PDF or DOC file using Upmetrics. Also, you can share it online with investors or with other important people just by a quick link.

Ready to take the next step?

Now that you have a business idea and you know how to write a business plan, it’s time to go for it . Our business plan software will take you through each step outlined above in more detail so there are no surprises on your journey.

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After trying Upmetrics, I wish to highly recommend this app to anyone who needs to write a business plan flexibly and to a high standard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sample business plan, how do i write a business plan.

In business plan writing you will need to write the following sections into your business plan. These sections include an Executive Summary, Company Overview, Problem Analysis, The Solution, Market Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, SWOT Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, and Financial Plan.

Check out our article to learn how you can write these sections in detail for your business plan.

How long should my business plan be?

The length of your business plan depends on the type of plan you choose. There are one-page business plans that offer easy and practical planning. Then you have traditional business plans that usually vary from 20 to 50 pages. It’s worth noting that the quality of your business plan matters more than its length.

Should I hire someone to write my business plan for me?

Absolutely No, You as a business owner know all about your business idea, your business goals, target market and audience, and what you want to achieve by writing your plan. Don’t hire someone who doesn’t know what your readers will want, the reason is that, if you intend to raise funds, you are the best person that understands what investors will look out for in your business plan.

Consultants or  business plan writers  definitely can write a business plan but not better than you.

Looking for a faster way to finish your business plan?

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24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

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I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

But what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing. I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

simple business plan example doc

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

Why? Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front, and this is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, and only include the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

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Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company, showcase your mission and impact, and outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. 

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

I like how this business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some of my favorite templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

I absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things I love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, I especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement  should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" and this example does just that. In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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