Writing a business plan is an essential task for any entrepreneur. It's recommended as one of the first steps in getting your new venture off the ground, and having a business plan is required if you want to apply for a loan or raise investor capital. But if you've never written one before, it can be difficult to create one from scratch.
Rather than struggle with formatting and figuring out what to include, you can make your life easier by plugging all the information you'll need into a pre-made template. There are plenty of Web-based business plan tools, but these often require you to create an account and save your work on the provider's server. This means you will need to log in every time you want to view or edit your business plan, and that you will be dependent on someone else to keep your plan secure and accessible.
We tracked down seven websites with easy-to-use Microsoft Word-based templates that you can download for free and save for whenever you're ready to write your plan. [Free PDF Business Plan Templates]
Bplans gives registered users access to a database of business planning tools, including a collection of free business plan templates that can be downloaded as Word documents. These templates cater to a wide range of businesses in different industries, such as retailers, online stores, independent contractors, service-based businesses and food establishments like restaurants, cafes and bakeries. Bplans' Word business plan templates are comprehensive and include a table of contents and standard business plan sections — executive summary, company summary, products and services, market analysis, strategy, management summary and financial planning. Bplan business plan templates also come with instructions, making them a great option for beginners and new business-owners.
Whether you're looking for advice articles, business planning software or a template for your specific type of business, you'll find it at BusinessPlanToday (BPT). This website provides a range of free business planning resources, including multiple Word templates and a full chapter-by-chapter business plan writing guide. When you sign up for an account, you'll also have access to BPT's comprehensive business plan writing software, which lets you include additional visual elements like charts and graphs.
In addition to publishing business news and entrepreneurship advice, Entrepreneur.com also provides business tools. Their collection of business plans features free PDF, PowerPoint and Word business plan templates, which can be viewed and downloaded via the SeamlessDocs platform. The site includes a templates for a variety of specific business types, a business plan model that outlines the different parts of a business plan, and customizable templates that allow users to add their logos and business information. A guide to writing a business plan is also available for download.
This simple but useful website offers numerous printer-friendly Word samples and templates to help you write your business plan. MyOwnBusiness allows you to access the different sections of a business plan such as the business profile, licenses/permits and location as individual templates, or as a larger all-in-one document. The site also has several financial templates available for Excel. All downloads on MyOwnBusiness are compatible with current and older versions of Word (2003 and earlier).
Office Depot offers more than just office supplies and furniture. Its Business Resource Center contains a trove of free business plan samples for retailers, manufacturers and service providers. Office Depot's business plan samples are in rich text format (RTF), which is compatible with Microsoft Word and most Windows-supported word processors. For merchants, the retailer business plan template includes forecasting and financial tables that require Microsoft Word version 6.0 or later.
It's always a good idea to have a lawyer look over any official business documents. When you create your free business plan with Rocket Lawyer, you get the advantage of getting an attorney's advice to make sure your document is legally sound. The questionnaire-style template asks you to fill in key information about your business — founders, structure and industry, marketing plans, financial projections, etc. — to help you cover all your bases. If you have any questions as you're working, you can type them in a convenient sidebar box and they'll be emailed to a Rocket Lawyer attorney upon completion (estimated turnaround is one business day). Your document is free to download as a Word document with a trial subscription, which you can cancel during the one-week period at no charge, or $10 to purchase on its own without a subscription.
Small business resource website SCORE aims to help entrepreneurs launch and grow small businesses across the United States. Their collection business planning tools include free Word business plan templates for startups and established businesses. For in-depth planning, SCORE provides a sales forecasting template, competitive analysis charts to determine your business' strengths and weaknesses, and financial planning templates such as startup expenses, profit and loss projections, and financial statements. After crafting your business plan, you can also take advantage of SCORE's mentoring services for expert business planning advice.
Ready to write your business plan? Visit Business News Daily's guide to help you get started.
This article was originally published in 2013 and was updated Dec. 22, 2015. Additional reporting by Business News Daily assistant editor Nicole Fallon Taylor.