When it comes to launching and running a successful business, planning is everything. This doesn't just mean jotting down your thoughts and ideas, however. Taking the time to actually sit down and create a well-crafted business plan is your recipe for success.
Don't know where to begin? Free business plan templates can help. They provide guidance by outlining the different parts of a business plan, so you don't have to start from scratch. There are several types of business plan templates, such as simple business plan templates that you can finish in a few minutes and comprehensive business plan templates that cover funding, market analysis, financial projections and other minutiae of running a business. There are also business plan templates specifically designed to help you get funding.
To help you get started, here are some of the best free business plan templates for small businesses. Choose from fill-in-the-blank business plan templates, sample business plans and even online wizards that take you step-by-step through the business plan writing process. [Business Plan Tools for Startups and Small Businesses]
Simple Business Plan Templates
The $100 Startup's One-Page Business Plan
Looking for a no-fuss business plan template that gets straight to the point? Not everyone has the time, patience or need to create a 50-page plan just to get started. The $100 Startup, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller, offers the One-Page Business Plan, a simple form that asks several questions you can quickly answer to get up and running. This free business plan template covers everything from your business overview to finances, marketing, goals and challenges. Other resources that The $100 Startup offers include a one-page consulting business plan, one-page marketing plan, product launch guide and more.
Oprah.com One-Page Business Plan
Don't let the female-centric name fool you. Though catered to women-owned businesses, Oprah.com's free one-page business plan templates can be used by anyone wanting to start a business. To give you an idea of how to fill in each section, the business plan PDF files are filled in for small consulting businesses, boutique clothing stores and nonprofit organizations, but if you delete that information, you've a free one-page business plan template fit for any business venture. Excerpted from "The One-Page Business Plan" (The One-Page Business Plan Company 2004), this free business plan template asks what your vision is, why your business exists, what your objectives are and what actions you need to take to succeed. Use keywords, short phrases and bullet points and you're ready to go.
[For a side-by-side comparison of the best business plan templates visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]
Comprehensive Business Plan Templates
Bplans.com Free Sample Business Plans
Bplans.com is known as the authority in business plans. They offer a free Word business plan template complete with instructions, a table of contents and standard business plan sections, such as executive summary, company summary, products and services, market analysis, strategy, management summary and financial planning. Bplans.com also offers more than 500 business plan samples for nearly every type of business and industry. Registered users can download most of these samples as Word documents for free immediately after registration. Their most popular business plan template categories include service-based businesses, retail and online stores, as well as restaurants, cafés, bakeries and other eateries.
SBA's Business Plan Tool
The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Business Plan Tool uses an online business plan template and guide to help you build your business plan, step by step. After creating an account, complete the cover page by filling in your company name, owner name and contact information, then upload your company logo. You can then move on to any of the six business plan sections: Executive Summary, Company Description, Market Research, Product/Service Line, Marketing and Sales, and Financial Projections. Just like a Word document, you can save and work on your file any time you want, allowing you to create a business plan at your own pace and direction. As a living plan, you can also continuously update your business plan online, which will be saved for up to six months after your last login date.
SCORE's Free PDF and Word Business Plan Templates
SCORE, a nonprofit small business resource, offers a gallery of free PDF and Word business plan templates for startups and established businesses. They also provide financial projection templates, financial statement Excel files, sales templates and a competitive analysis chart to determine your strengths and weaknesses, much like SWOT analysis. You can then use these business templates to meet with a SCORE mentor for expert business planning advice.
Office Depot Sample Business Plan Components
Office Depot doesn't just sell office supplies and furniture. They also have a Business Resource Center with everything you need to know to start and run a small business. Their free business tools include downloadable RTF business plan templates for manufacturers, service providers and retailers. Excel business plan financials are also available for manufacturers and service providers, while the retailer business plan template is complete with forecasting and financial tables.
Funding Business Plan Templates
Rocket Lawyer Business Plan
Need funding? Rocket Lawyer's Business Plan will help you create a blueprint not only for your business, but for investors as well. This tool uses step-by-step "interview" process to create your business plan, such as by asking which areas you'd like to include in the plan — a confidentiality statement, mission statement, specific goals and objectives and exit strategy. It will also ask key background questions investors and lenders will be interested in — for instance, the type of business entity you plan to start, state of formation, owner's qualifications, whether you will be taking out a loan or will rely on equity investment, market research, industry analysis and more.
vFinance Business Plan Template and Guide
vFinance, a global financial services firm that helps entrepreneurs find venture capitalists and angel investors, offers a free business plan template that you can download as a Word or ZIP file. After selecting your industry and filling out your company information and related keywords, you'll be able to download a business plan template catered to your type of business. To help you craft your business plan, vFinance's Business Planning Department provides sidebars on each template, complete with tips, comments and links to business planning resources. Once finished, you can submit your business plan for a free review and post it on their website, where more than 100,000 angel investors, venture capital firms and mergers can find you.