Business plans are used by entrepreneurs to secure funding for their business idea or by small business owners looking to refine their business strategy. Regardless of the purpose, having templates at the ready can be helpful.
If you've never written a business plan before or just want to save time and effort, here are 10 websites where you can download a business plan template and get started.
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The Balance's business plan template is broken down into sections that will aid you in completing the best possible business plan, whether you are creating it for funding or strategy.
According to the website, each section can be copied into Word, Excel or a similar word-processing app by simply copying and pasting the text. The website also breaks down each section and provides instructions on how to download and fill in the template.
Bplans' investor-approved business plan template has been used by Princeton University and Babson College to teach entrepreneurs how to start a business. The template starts with an executive summary and then guides you through the other elements, including the financial plan, company overview and more. There's also a step-by-step guide for writing a business plan, and Bplans provides a library of sample business plans to ensure you're on the right track.
My Own Business Institute
MOBI, or My Own Business Institute, is part of Santa Clara University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They offer a business plan template consisting of 15 sections that include the business profile, licenses/permits and location. You can download the Word template. MOBI provides helpful suggestions for how to fill in each section as well who should review it.
One of the cool things about the SCORE business plan template is that once you've completed it, you can meet with a SCORE mentor for expert advice in business planning. SCORE offers options for startups and established businesses, and you'll find plans for business planning, financing, marketing, etc., if you're looking to implement one of those areas into your business.
The One-Page Business Plan Company
The One-Page Business Plan Company offers exactly what its name implies: a one-page business plan for those who don't see the need for an elaborate plan. The one-page business plan is separated into several sections such as vision, mission, objectives, strategies and action plans. You can answer all of the questions using keywords and short phrases.
New York StartUP!
This template is used as the official business plan for the New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition. The PDF business plan template was adapted from Rhonda Abrams' Successful Business Plan (The Planning Shop, 2010). Each section includes instructions explaining the type of information you should enter. In addition, the template includes a SWOT analysis and optional technology plan.
Plan Buildr offers a step-by-step guide to help you complete each section of its business plan template – something that is especially helpful for those who have never written a business plan before. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete, it automatically calculates financials for you, plus you can choose from 10 professional designs.
Legaltemplates' free business plan template is available for download, and once you complete it, you simply print it out. You can also download a filled-in version to use as a reference. The eight-chapter template explains what information needs to go in each section and why.
With PandaDoc, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial and then gain access to its templates. You'll find templates for general businesses as well as specific templates for restaurants, bakeries, hotels, startups, coffee shops and salons. Once you sign up for the free trial, you can customize it to fit your business needs by adding photos, pricing tables, videos and a theme that fits your branding. Once you're done, you can send it out and track opens and views through PandaDoc.
InvoiceBerry is primarily an invoicing and tracking platform, but the company offers free business plan templates for freelancers and small businesses. Plans are for Word, Excel, Open Office and PowerPoint, and can be downloaded directly from the website. They also provide a business plan checklist to ensure you're including all the right information. InvoiceBerry also provides marketing plans and executive summaries you can insert into your business plan.
Free vs. Paid Business Plan Templates
The pro of going the free route is that, well, the templates are free. But there are cons with free business plan templates. [Interested in finding the right business plan software and services for your company? Check out our best picks.]
"The process of writing a business plan lets you personally find the kinks in your business and work them out. Now, starting with an online template is a good start, but it needs to be reviewed and targeted to your market," said Attiyya Atkins, found of A + Editing. "Downloadable business plans may have dated market prices, making the budget inaccurate. If you're looking to get money from investors, you need a customized business plan with zero errors."
Janil Jean, head of overseas operations at Logo Design Guru said that free templates offer limited customization (such as company name, some text, etc.) and are used by a ton of people, so chances are, if you are using that to secure funds, investors might be tired of seeing the same business plan format.
The benefit of paying for business plan templates, or paying for having your business plan reviewed, is the accuracy of information and customization. "Your audience gets thousands of applications per day. What's to make your business plan stand out from the crowd when you're not there in the room when they make the decisions about your enterprise?" said Jean. "Visuals are the best way to impress and get attention. It makes sense to get paid templates that allow you maximum customization through design, images and branding," she said.