Writing a business plan can seem like a big task, especially if you’re starting a business for the first time and don’t have a financial background. Even if you do have some experience, getting a refresher on what a modern business plan looks like is always a good idea.
After all, business plans have changed over the years, and what lenders and investors expect now is different than it was even just 10 years ago.
That’s why we’re sharing our investor-approved business plan template. This template has been used by universities such as Princeton and Babson to teach entrepreneurs how to start businesses. It’s also been used by over 500,000 businesses to write business plans for bank loans, venture capital and angel investments, business expansion, and even business sales.
It’s a proven template that works and will help you get a jump-start right away, saving you critical time and making the business planning process much easier.
You can see the template below or you can download it as a Word document using the form on the right side of this page.
With all the options available for business planning, is a template the best place to start?
A good business plan template can help you get your thoughts organized. It can provide a guideline, so that you’re not stuck looking at a blank page trying to figure out where to start. Plus, it can show you the general layout of a standard business plan.
A great business plan template will also provide instructions for each step of your plan and show you what an investor-ready and SBA-approved business plan should look like.
There are tons of free business plan templates available (including the one you can download right here on this page). You can also find business plan examples specific to your industry by searching our sample business plan library.
However, be careful—there are lots of people out there who will try and charge you for a template. Don’t get tricked into paying for one when there are so many free templates available that will help you get started on your business plan.
If you need more than a free, simple template can provide, look into online business planning solutions like LivePlan, which provides more help and customization options than any template can.
While there are benefits to using a business plan template, depending on your situation it may not be the absolute best way to complete your plan. There is still going to be a lot of work involved—for instance, not only do you have to complete the financial spreadsheets, but you have to do all the math yourself.
You’ll also have to know enough about the process to be sure you’re getting all the numbers in the right places. And typically, there are limited instructions to go along with a free template, so if you don’t already know what you’re doing with the numbers, the process of writing your business plan isn’t going to be that much easier with a template.
Finally, merging data from Excel spreadsheets into your Word document is harder than it looks. It’s not easy to keep everything completely up-to-date as you make changes to your numbers, and integrating the right charts and graphs into your business plan is harder than it seems.
However, if you’re new to business planning and just want to get a sense of what a plan looks like and want to get the process started quickly (and cheaply!), then downloading a free template is a great way to get started.
If this template or any of the other business plan templates we have here on Bplans doesn’t give you the flexibility and guidance you need to finish your business plan, you might want to take a look at business plan software.
Good software will include step-by-step guidance, video tutorials, automatic financial forecasting, automatic formatting, and chart creation, plus much more. In our studies, we’ve found that good software can save hundreds of hours of work compared to building a plan in Word and Excel. So, if using software is the right fit for you, you can spend more time starting your business and less time planning.
The outline of our business plan template appears below. It is simplified a bit for this page, so we encourage you to download the Word version to get instructions for each section, as well as a cover page, table of contents, legal disclaimer, and more.
If you’re looking for more than a business plan template, we’ve got plenty of additional resources to help you: