Free Small Business Plan Templates and Examples
By Kate Eby | April 27, 2022
We’ve compiled the most useful collection of free small business plan templates for entrepreneurs, project managers, development teams, investors, and other stakeholders, as well as a list of useful tips for filling out a small business template.
Included on this page, you’ll find a simple small business template and a one-page small business plan template . You can also download a fill-in-the-blank small business plan template , and a sample small business plan template to get started.
Small Business Plan Template
Download Small Business Plan Template Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Docs
Use this small business plan template to identify trends and demographics in the company overview. Highlight how your product or service uniquely benefits consumers in the offerings section, and note your proposed timeline, milestones, and the key performance metrics (KPIs) you will use to measure your success. This template has all the components of a standard business plan, from the executive summary through financing details.
Small Business Plan Sample Template
Download Small Business Plan Sample Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Docs
Use this small business plan sample template to draft the subsections and headings of the contents of your plan. This template provides editable sample text that shows you how to organize and create a ready-to-be-implemented business plan. This sample template helps remove the guesswork of what to include in a small business plan.
Simple Small Business Plan Template
Download Simple Small Business Plan Template Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
Use this streamlined, customizable, simple small business plan template to chart revenue, expenses, and net profit or loss forecasts with sample graphics. Order your small business plan with numbered subsections and list them in a table of contents. Supplement the plan with additional information in the appendix for a complete business plan that you can present to investors.
Small Business Plan Chart Template
Download Small Business Plan Chart Template Microsoft PowerPoint | Google Slides
Use this small business plan chart template to plan and track month-by-month and annual business planning. The flexible color-coded bar chart simplifies tracking and allows you to customize the plan to meet your needs. Add tasks, track owner status, and adjust the timeline to chart your progress with this dynamic, visually rich small business planning tool.
Small Business Plan Outline Template
Download Small Business Plan Outline Template Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Docs
Use this small business plan outline template to jumpstart a plan for your small business. This template includes the nine essential elements of a traditional business plan, plus a title page, a table of contents, and an appendix to ensure that your document is complete, comprehensive, and in order. Easily simplify or expand the outline to meet your company’s needs.
Printable Small Business Plan Template
Download Printable Small Business Plan Template Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Docs
This print-friendly small business plan template is ideal for presentations to investors and stakeholders. The customizable template includes all the standard, critical business plan elements, and serves as a guide for writing a complete and comprehensive plan. Easily edit and add content to this printable template, so you can focus on executing the small business plan.
Small Business Startup Plan Template
Download Small Business Startup Plan Template Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Docs
Use this small business startup plan template to draft your mission statement and list your keys to business success, in order to persuade investors and inform stakeholders. Customize your startup plan with fillable tables for sales revenue, gross profit margin, and cost of sales projections to secure your business's pricing structure.
Fill-in-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template
Download Fill-in-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
This small business plan template simplifies the process to help you create a comprehensive, organized business plan. Simply enter original content for the executive summary, company overview, and other sections to customize the plan. This fill-in-the-blank small business plan template helps you to maintain organization and removes the guesswork in order to ensure success.
One Page Small Business Plan Template
Download One Page Small Business Plan Template Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
This one page small business plan template is ideal for quick, simple presentations. Use this template to summarize your business overview, market analysis, marketing, and sales plan, key objectives and success metrics, and milestones timeline. Complete the fillable sections to educate investors and inform stakeholders.
One Page Small Business Plan Example
Download One Page Business Plan Example Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
This one page small business plan example prompts you to list your vision, mission, product or service, team member names, roles, and relevant experience to promote your small business. Use the market analysis, marketing, sales plan sections to detail how you aim to sell your product or service. This small business plan features fillable tables for key objectives and success metrics. Plus, you’ll find space for your financial cost structure and revenue sources to show how your business will remain profitable.
What Is a Small Business Plan Template?
A small business plan template is a roadmap for defining your business objectives and detailing the operational, financial, and marketing resources required for success. Use a small business plan template to strategize growth, forecast financial needs, and promote investment.
A small business plan template organizes and outlines the content needed to achieve goals for growth and profit, including marketing and sales tactics. As opposed to starting from scratch, using a template makes it easy to organize the information and customize the plan to meet your needs.
A small business plan template includes standard business plan sections, as well as the following sections:
- Executive Summary: Summarize the key points in your small business plan in two pages or less to hold your reader's attention and promote buy-in. Write this section last to capitalize on your understanding of the small business plan.
- Company Overview: Describe the nature of your small business, the industry landscape and trends, demographics, and economic and governmental influences. List your location, product or service, and goals to show what makes your small business unique.
- Problem and Solution: Identify and explain the problem your product or service will solve and its costs. Propose and describe your solution and its benefits. Conclude this section with a summary of the problem and solution.
- Target Market: Identify your small business's target market by researching your product and service to determine the most likely demographic. Explain your target market's motivations for buying your product or service.
- Competition: Note the other competitor product or service offerings, pricing, and company revenues to understand how to outperform your competitors. Detail your small business's competitive advantages, based on research.
- Product or Service Offerings: Describe your product or service, how it benefits your target market, and what makes it unique. Highlight how your product or service will outsell competitors.
- Marketing: Detail your marketing plan with objectives and strategy, including goals, costs, and an action plan. A successful marketing plan reduces costs and boosts your product or service sales.
- Timeline and Metrics: Break down your small business plan into smaller activities. Describe these activities (and the performance metrics you intend to use to track them) and list a completion date for each.
- Financial Forecasts: Explain how your organization uses past performance and market research to inform your business's economic forecasts. Estimate growth and profits based on your informed assumptions.
- Financing: List your funding sources and how you intend to use the funds to keep your company on track as it grows. Smart financing at the planning stage prepares your organization for unexpected challenges and helps to mitigate risk.
A small business plan template enables you to complete your business plan quickly and comprehensively, so you can achieve your goals and turn your product or service idea into a profitable reality.
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550+ Free business plan examples
Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to guide you through writing your own plan. If you're looking for an intuitive tool that walks you through the plan writing process, we recommend LivePlan . It includes many of these same SBA-approved business plan examples and is especially useful when applying for a bank loan or outside investment.
Find your business plan
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Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.
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Example business plan format
Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:
The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.
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, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).
Products & services
The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.
This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.
Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.
Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.
To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.
Marketing & sales
The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.
The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.
Milestones & metrics
The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.
A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.
You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.
Company & team
Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.
Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.
Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.
The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.
Types of business plans explained
While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. To get the most out of your plan, it's best to find a format that suits your needs. 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 for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you'll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.
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.
The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.
One-page business plan
The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.
By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.
Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.
It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.
It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.
Download a free sample business plan template
Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2023.
This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
How to use an example business plan to help you write your own
How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.
Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company
You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.
For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.
Use a business plan example as a guide
Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.
One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.
You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.
If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document
Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool
Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.
If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.
Prepare to pitch your business
If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.
Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.
With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.
Get LivePlan in your classroom
Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.
With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .
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