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Business Plan

  • Last Updated: December 21, 2021

Business plan development

A well thought out and researched business plan is the cornerstone to starting and running a business. Sound business plans can help you obtain financing, identify key milestones, and provide benchmarks to monitor progress toward your goals.

Be sure to check out the free or low-cost training opportunities, plus free professional business advising, from your local Small Business Development Center !

Get Your Free Business Plan from our collection of over 800 business plans listed below!

Updated January 10 th , 2022

How to Write a Business Plan

The following are the nine sections of a traditional business plan identified by the SBA :

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Organization and management
  • Service or product line
  • Marketing and sales
  • Funding request
  • Financial projections

The following are resources to help you develop your own business plan:

  • How to Write a Business Plan – from the SBA Learning Center , this free course explains the importance of business planning, defines and describes the components of a business plan to help you develop your own.
  • Business plan template – review of two formats and their content from SBA.
  • Build Your Business Plan – this SBA tool provides you with a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
  • Developing a Successful Business Plan – In this webinar business planning expert Tim Berry helps entrepreneurs and small businesses better understand how to create a business plan
  • Business Plan Outline – An in-depth look at how to create an individualized business plan with tools to make it easy.
  • How to Write a Business Plan – A step by step guide to writing a successful business plan.
  • Shopify – This comprehensive guide walks you through the nuts and bolts of writing your very own business plan.
  • How to Write a Business Plan in 8 Simple Steps – A step by step guide with in-depth information on writing each section of a business plan.
  • How to Write a Business Plan for Funding – A how-to guide on what is needed for a business plan to present to would-be investors and lenders.
  • Business Plan Checklist – Keep yourself on track while writing your business plan.

Where to Find a Business Plan

  • Score – Business planning, finance, sales, marketing, and management templates & guides.
  • Bplans – Bplans.com contains the largest single collection of free sample business plans online as well as helpful tools and know-how for managing your business.
  • Business Plan Handbook – Reference for Business/Advameg contains the first 11 volumes of the Business Plan Handbook series, a compilation of business plans for small businesses.
  • The Finance Resource – Free online business plan samples
  • More Business – Free online sample business plans for various industries.
  • Klariti – Online templates, checklists, forms, and tutorials for entrepreneurs.

Business Plan Templates – an Alphabetized List

The following is a collection of sample business plans. Many of the business plan samples are provided by Palo Alto Software, the Makers of Business Plan Pro . Individuals working with their local SBDC , may receive a discount code for business plan software from participating SBDCs. You may use your promo code to set up your own LivePlan account using the SBDC discount .

  • 3D Printing Service
  • Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • Accounting (Automated)
  • Accounting Firm
  • Acupuncture Clinic
  • Advertising Agency
  • Advertising Consulting
  • Affiliate Marketing Website
  • Agricultural Consultants
  • Agriculture Farm
  • Agriculture Fruit Farm
  • Aircraft Equipment Maker
  • Aircraft Rental Instruction
  • Air Ground Supplier
  • Airline Business
  • Airline Charter Company
  • Airport Shuttle
  • Airport Taxi
  • Alpaca Farm
  • Ambulance Service
  • Amusement Park
  • Animal Day Care
  • Antique Store
  • Apartment Complex
  • Apartment Rental Website
  • Apparel Designer
  • Aquarium Services
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Architecture Firm
  • Army Navy Store
  • Art Film Theater
  • Art Gallery
  • Artificial Flowers Import
  • Art Packaging Installation
  • Art Sales Custom Framing
  • Art School Gallery
  • Art School Museum
  • Art Supply Store and Gallery
  • ASP B2B Technology
  • Assisted Living Facility
  • Astrology Tarot Card
  • Athletic Shoe Store Franchise
  • ATM Company
  • Attorney Employment Agency
  • Au Pair Agency
  • Auction House
  • Auditing and Consulting
  • Auto Inspection Company
  • Auto Inspectors
  • Auto Finance Company
  • Auto Parts Store
  • Auto Repair Service
  • Automobile Parts (Export)
  • Automobile Restoration
  • Automotive Dealer
  • Automotive Repair Shop
  • Baby Boutique
  • Bail Bonding Company
  • Banquet Hall
  • Bar and Tavern
  • Barber Shop
  • Bartending School
  • Baseball Batting Cages
  • Basketball Camp
  • Batting Cages
  • Beauty Salon
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • Bed and Breakfast – Caribbean
  • Bed and Breakfast Inn
  • Benefits Administration
  • Beverage Distributor
  • Beverage Machine Rental
  • Beverage Manufacturer
  • Bicycle Art
  • Bicycle Shop (Retail)
  • Biodiesel Plant
  • Boarding School
  • Boat and Yacht Dealer
  • Boat Storage Facility
  • Booking Agency
  • Bookkeeping Practice
  • Bowling Alley
  • Bowling Entertainment Center
  • Bridal Gown Shop
  • Bridal Shop
  • Business Analysis Publishing
  • Business Brokerage
  • Business Development
  • Business Support Insurance
  • Business Valuation Expert
  • Butcher Shop
  • Cabinet Contractor
  • Cable TV Installer
  • Cafe Bistro Coffeehouse
  • Call Center
  • Candle Making
  • Candy Store
  • Car Audio Store
  • Car Parts Store
  • Car Rental Agency
  • Car Wash (Self-service)
  • Career Counselor
  • Carpentry Contractor
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • Cash Flow Note Buyer
  • Cash for Gold Store
  • Catering and Ballroom Rental
  • Catering Company
  • Cell Phone Store
  • Cell Phones Retailer
  • Charter School
  • Check Cashing Store
  • Cheese Shop
  • Chemical Laboratory
  • Chicken Farm
  • Child Day Care Services
  • Children’s Center
  • Children’s Play Program
  • Children’s Website
  • Chinese Restaurant
  • Chiropractic Business
  • Chiropractic Practice
  • Christmas Store
  • Cigar Manufacturing
  • Classified Ads Website
  • Cleaning Services
  • Clothing E-commerce Site
  • Clothing Manufacturer
  • Clothing Retail
  • Clothing Store
  • Cloud Computing Service
  • Coffee Distribution
  • Coffee Export
  • Coffee Kiosk
  • Coffee Roaster
  • Coffeehouse
  • Comic Book Store
  • Commercial Bank
  • Commercial Catalog Sales
  • Commercial Contractor
  • Commercial Diving Service
  • Commodities Trading Firm
  • Computer Consulting
  • Computer Hardware Reseller
  • Computer Laser Accessories
  • Computer Repair
  • Computer Repair Service
  • Computer Software
  • Computer Software Retailer
  • Computer Support
  • Computers Reseller
  • Concert Promoter
  • Concierge Service
  • Construction
  • Construction Carpenter
  • Construction Inspection
  • Construction Irrigation
  • Construction Manufacturer
  • Construction Repair
  • Consulting Firm
  • Consulting Seminars
  • Convenience Store
  • Convenience Store Cafe
  • Convenience Store Gas Station
  • Convenience Store Soda Fountain
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Cosmetic Herbal Sundries
  • Cosmetics Retailer
  • Cosmetology (Beauty) School
  • Countertop Installation Service
  • Country Club
  • Courier Service
  • Court Reporting Service
  • Credit Monitoring Service
  • Credit Repair Service
  • Crowdfunding Website
  • Cruise Ship
  • Cultural Consulting Firm
  • Cupcake Store
  • Currency Exchanger
  • Custom Pottery
  • Custom Printed T-Shirts
  • Dance Studio
  • Data Recovery
  • Data Recovery Service
  • Database Software
  • Day Care Center
  • Debt Collection Agency
  • Debt Consolidation Service
  • Decorative Pottery
  • Defense Contractor
  • Deli Restaurant
  • Delicatessen and Bakery
  • Demolition Company
  • Dental Clinic
  • Dental Laboratories
  • Dental Laboratory
  • Dental Office
  • Department Store
  • Dessert Bakery
  • Diabetic Supply Company
  • Diamond Retailer
  • Diamond Wholesaler
  • Diaper Manufacturer
  • Dinner Theater
  • Dinner Train
  • Direct Mail Service
  • Display Case Marketing
  • Document Shredding
  • Dog and Cat Kennel
  • Dog Groomer and Kennel
  • Dog Obedience School
  • Dollar Store
  • Drapery Fabricator
  • Driving School
  • Drug Rehab Center
  • Dry Cleaner
  • Dry Cleaning Home Delivery
  • Drywall Installer
  • E-commerce Fabric Store
  • E-commerce Fire Rescue Equipment
  • E-commerce Start-up
  • E-Commerce Website
  • Educational Software K-12
  • Electrical Contractor
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic Filing Storage
  • Electronics Repair Shop
  • Electronics Retailer
  • Embroidery Shop
  • Emergency Shelters
  • Energy Conservation
  • Engineering Business
  • Engineering Consulting
  • Engineering Firm
  • Environmental Car Dealership
  • Environmental Laboratory
  • Equipment Leasing Broker
  • Equipment Rental Sales
  • Escort Agency
  • Escrow Service
  • Ethnic Food Import
  • Ethnic Food Restaurant
  • Event Planner
  • Exec Employment Agency
  • Export Watch Manufacturer
  • Exterminator Service
  • Eye Surgery Equipment Maker 
  • Family Medicine Clinic
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Fashion Consultant
  • Fast Food Restaurant
  • Film Production Company
  • Financial Planner
  • Financial Planning
  • Financial Website
  • Fine Dining Restaurant
  • Fireworks Store
  • Fish and Tackle Shop
  • Fish Breeder
  • Fishing Equipment
  • Fishing Supplies and Fly Shop
  • Fitness Center and Gym
  • Flea Market
  • Flight School
  • Flower Shop
  • Food Preparation
  • Foreclosure Advisory
  • Formwork Construction
  • Franchise System
  • Franchised Restaurant
  • Frozen Custard Shop
  • Freight Brokerage
  • Fundraising Company
  • Funeral Home
  • Furniture Manufacturer
  • Furniture Store
  • Garden Products Recycling
  • Gas Station
  • Genealogy Service
  • General Contractor
  • General Freight Trucking
  • Gift Basket
  • Gift Basket Company
  • Gift Card Distributor
  • Global Event Planning
  • Global Marketing
  • Go Kart Track
  • Gold Trading Company
  • Golf Course
  • Golf Driving Range
  • Golf Pro Shop
  • Gourmet Coffee Shop
  • Gourmet Food Store
  • Grant Search Company
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphic Design Company
  • Gravel Rock Products
  • Green Energy Products
  • Greeting Card Maker
  • Grocery Store

Financing | Templates

How To Write an SBA Business Plan [+Free Template]

Published June 13, 2023

Published Jun 13, 2023

Tricia Jones

REVIEWED BY: Tricia Jones

Andrew Wan

WRITTEN BY: Andrew Wan

This article is part of a larger series on Business Financing .

  • 1. Write the Company Description
  • 2. Identify Organization & Management
  • 3. Specify the Market Analysis
  • 4. Write Descriptions of the Products or Services
  • 5. Indicate the Marketing & Sales Strategy
  • 6. List Financial Data & Projections
  • 7. Write the Financing Request
  • 8. Fill In the Appendix & Supplemental Information
  • 9. Complete the Executive Summary
  • Additional Resources

Bottom Line

FILE TO DOWNLOAD OR INTEGRATE

SBA Business Plan Template Download

sbdc business plan template

Thank you for downloading!

If you’re applying for a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), there’s a good chance that you’ll need a business plan to get approved. An SBA business plan provides a summary of the various aspects of your business, and we will guide you through the process of creating it, from writing your company description and marketing and sales strategies to completing financial data and projections and your executive summary.

Although there is no standard format, and to help you ensure nothing is overlooked, you can use our SBA business plan template above to ensure you cover the most important areas of your company. A well-prepared business plan can improve your chances of getting an SBA loan.

Step 1: Write the Company Description

This section should contain information about the purpose of your business. It should include a description of the problem or challenge your product or service aims to solve and what types of individuals or organizations will benefit.

A strong company description should also address the following questions:

  • Why does your company exist?
  • What problems does your business aim to address?
  • What prompted you to start your business?
  • What organizations or individuals will benefit from your company’s product or service?
  • What makes your company different from others?
  • What competitive advantages does your business offer?
  • What would a successful product launch look like?
  • Does your company have strategic partnerships with other vendors?

Step 2: Identify Organization & Management

Details about the legal and tax structure of your business should be included in this section. It can also be helpful to include an organizational chart of your company. You can include information about each team member’s background and experience and how it is relevant to your company:

  • Highlight what business structure you have selected and why. Examples commonly include a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), partnership, S corporation (S-corp), and C corporation (C-corp)
  • Include an organizational chart showing which team members are responsible for the various aspects of your company
  • You can include resumes for members of your leadership team highlighting their experience and background

Step 3: Specify the Market Analysis

The market analysis section of your SBA business plan should look at who your competitors will be. Look at what they are doing well, what their weaknesses are, and how your company compares.

The SBA’s market analysis page contains information on how you can approach this. Questions you should also consider addressing should include:

  • Who are the major competitors in the market?
  • What are competitors doing well and are there areas for improvement?
  • How does your company compare to the top competitors?
  • How has the product or service evolved over time?
  • Are there any trends for supply and demand throughout the year?
  • What can your company do to stand apart from the top competitors?

Step 4: Write Descriptions of the Products or Services

In this section, you should detail the product or service offered by your business. You should explain what it does, how it helps your customers, and its expected lifecycle. You can also include things like any expected research and development costs, intellectual property concerns such as patents, what the lifecycle of your product looks like, and what is needed to manufacture or assemble it.

Here are some things to consider as you are working on this section:

  • Description of what your product or service does
  • How your product or service works
  • How your customers will benefit from your product or service
  • Illustration of the typical lifecycle
  • Any patents or intellectual property you or your competitors have
  • Pricing structure
  • Plans for research and development
  • Discuss plans for handling intellectual property, copyright, and patent filings

Step 5: Indicate the Marketing & Sales Strategy

Details of your marketing and sales strategy will be highly dependent on your business. It’s also something that may evolve and change over time in response to things like the overall economic environment, release of competitor’s products or services, and changes in pricing.

With that being said, here is a list of some items that should be addressed:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will you attract customers?
  • How and where will sales be made?
  • If applicable, what will the sales process look like?
  • Where will you market and advertise your product or service?
  • How does your marketing strategy compare to other companies in the industry?
  • How much should you spend on marketing?
  • What is the expected return on investment for marketing?
  • Do you have any data showing the effect of marketing?

Step 6: List Financial Data & Projections

If your business has been running, you should include information about its finances. This should include all streams of revenue and expenses. Data for financial projections should also be included, along with a description of the methodology you used to reach those conclusions.

If available, you should be prepared to provide the following financial documents for at least the last three years to five years:

  • Personal and business tax returns
  • Balance sheets
  • Profit and loss (P&L) statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Hard and soft collateral owned by your business
  • Business bank statements for the last six to 12 months

Financial projections should include enough data to offer some confidence that your business is viable and will succeed. It’s recommended that you provide monthly projections looking forward at least three years, with annual projections for years four and five.

  • Projections for revenue and methodology used in arriving at these figures
  • Expected shifts in revenue or expenses as a result of seasonality or other factors affecting supply and demand
  • Expected expenses from loan payments, rent, lease payments, marketing and advertising fees, employee salaries, benefits, legal fees, warranty expenses, and more

You can use our SBA loan calculator to help you estimate monthly payments for the funding you’re currently looking for and projections for any additional loans you may need. Monthly payments can fluctuate depending on the terms of your loan. If you’re looking for accurate estimates, you can read our article on SBA loan rates .

Step 7: Write the Financing Request

This section is where you should specify how much funding you need, why you need it, what you’ll use it for, and the impact you expect it will have on your business. It’s also a good idea to indicate when you expect to use the funds over the course of the next three to five years.

Here is a checklist of some important items you should cover:

  • How much funding you need and why
  • When you will use the funds over the next three to five years
  • What you will use the funds for
  • The expected impact this will have on your business and how it will help reach your business goals
  • The anticipation of any recurring needs for additional funding
  • Your strategy for how you expect to pay off the loan
  • Any future financial plans for your business

Step 8: Fill In the Appendix & Supplemental Information

This last section of your SBA business plan should include any additional information that may be helpful for lenders. This can include more detailed explanations or clarifications of data from other sections of your business plan.

Here are some examples of documents you can include:

  • Business licenses
  • Certifications or permits
  • Letters of reference
  • Photos of products
  • Resumes of business owners
  • Contractual agreements and other legal documents

Step 9: Complete the Executive Summary

The executive summary, which is the first section in a business plan, should be no more than one to two pages and provide a high-level overview of the items listed below. Since each section above is already detailed, a brief description of those sections will be sufficient:

  • Your company’s mission statement
  • The background and experience of your leadership team
  • The product or service and what purpose it serves
  • Your target market for the product or service
  • Competitive analysis of other products and services
  • Your competitive advantage or why your company will succeed
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Financial projections and funding needs

Depending on the type of SBA loan you’re applying for, certain areas of your business plan may be weighed more heavily than others. You can learn about the SBA loan options you can choose from in our guide on the different types of SBA loans .

Additional Resources for Writing an SBA Business Plan

If you’re looking for additional resources to help you write a business plan, you can consider the options below. Since a business plan is just one of many documents you’ll need, you can also read our guide on how to get an SBA loan if you need help with other areas of the loan process:

  • SBA: SBA’s business guide contains information on how you can start a small business. It includes steps on creating a business plan, funding your company, and launching a business.
  • SCORE: Through SCORE, you can request to be paired with a mentor and get business-related education. Educational courses come in several formats, including webinars, live events, and online courses.
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC): SBDCs provide training and counseling to small business owners. This can help with various aspects of your company such as getting access to working capital, business planning, financial management, and more. You can use the SBA’s tool to find your closest SBDC .

Having a strong SBA business plan can improve your chances of getting approved for an SBA loan. If you’re unsure where to start, you can use our guide and template to cover the most important aspects of your business. You can also see our tips on how to get a small business loan . To get even more ideas on creating a strong business plan, you can also utilize resources through organizations such as SCORE and the SBA itself.

About the Author

Andrew Wan

Find Andrew On LinkedIn

Andrew Wan is a staff writer at Fit Small Business, specializing in Small Business Finance. He has over a decade of experience in mortgage lending, having held roles as a loan officer, processor, and underwriter. He is experienced with various types of mortgage loans, including Federal Housing Administration government mortgages as a Direct Endorsement (DE) underwriter. Andrew received an M.B.A. from the University of California at Irvine, a Master of Studies in Law from the University of Southern California, and holds a California real estate broker license.

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Download Tools

Business Plan Guide

A more detailed guide to developing a concrete business plan that you can utilize to complete a draft of your business plan.

Business Plan Outline

A simple, one page outline that you can utilize to complete a rough draft of your business plan. The LA SBDC will help you craft a document that presents your company in the best light for lenders, investors, employees and serve as a tool for managing the business. For additional help call your local SBDC service center.

Business start up checklist

Business Start Up Checklist

A checklist of the basic areas you need to cover before opening your business.

Financial Projections Spreadsheet

A linked worksheet that will allow you to complete the Financials section of your business plan. It can also be used standalone to create financial projections. This template includes financial assumptions, sources and uses of funds, profit and loss statement, cash flow and balance sheet. It can be used in support of your loan application. Don’t forget to download the projections step-by-step guide.

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Writing a Business Plan

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Main Content

Now that you have evaluated your idea and see that there is a market that wants to buy what you are selling, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get everything down on paper. The following pages will describe in detail the seven essential sections of a business plan: what you should include, what you shouldn’t include, how to work the numbers and additional resources you can turn to for help. With that in mind, jump right in.

Executive Summary Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. This section briefly explains the rest of your business plan in no more than typically one to two pages. The executive summary should include;

  • Owners’ names and credentials
  • Products and services
  • Market(s) and competition
  • Amount of money needed

Be sure to clearly state what you’re asking for from the reader in the executive summary.

Business Description The business description usually begins with a short description of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss the present outlook as well as future possibilities. You should also provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business.

In this section, you are painting a picture of your business and the opportunity you see in the marketplace. Keep in mind that if this plan is looking for funding, be very descriptive as you may never get a chance to talk to the people who may be making the decision to fund your project or be able to further explain any questions they may have.

Managers & Employees This section will lay out your team’s ability to execute the vision of the business.  If you lack direct experience in this industry, you may want to bring up related experience or hire consultants or employees who possess this experience.

Remember too that even though you may be great at the technical part of the business, you as the business owner will wear several other hats such as bookkeeping, marketing, human resources, etc. If you don’t have this experience you may want to consider learning it or hiring it out so you can focus on what you do best.

When working through the employee section, consider your growth plan over the next three years and figure out what people you will need to run the various aspects of the business and what they will cost.

Operations & Location Describe the physical space needs for your business. While you may not have an exact location picked out yet, make an estimate for the cost of this location. Be sure to include overhead expenses such as utilities, water, etc.

Marketing The marketing section is perhaps the most important part of the business plan because if customers don’t know about your business you won’t be in business long. This section is typically overlooked by many clients as they are focusing on the product and service that is being offered. This can be a costly mistake. Take the time now to come up with a plan to determine who your most likely customers are, how to find them and how much it will cost to market to them.

Competitive Analysis The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses the competition has.

Financial Projections Financial data is always at the back of the business plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important than up-front material such as the business concept and the management team. Be detailed on how you will be spending a backer’s or a lender’s money and be sure to include your portion of 10%-50% of the project cost as your investment. Additionally, a bank is going to require a three-year pro forma statement, tax returns and a personal financial statement.

Financial projections are what many entrepreneurs struggle with, but the SBDC at SIU is more than happy to help.

Business Planning Resources Below you will find some resources to help you with writing a business plan. The SBDC at SIU is available confidentially and free of charge to help you put a business plan together and also to provide a review and make sure it is ready to go to the bank.

Contact us at [email protected] or 618-536-2424 to set up an appointment.

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Your business plan sets down all the obvious components, such as the strategy, management, basic numbers, market focus, business offerings, competition, and so forth. It should indicate what your goals are and the steps the organization is taking to move along the path toward the goals. Those become concrete with dates, deadlines, task assignments, budgets, and forecasts.

When writing your business plan, you should consider that it may be read and used by parties that know nothing about your business and industry. You may one day want to provide it to a lender, investor, partner or even employee. Yet, keep your business plan short and to the point.

Following is a list of the typical sections in a business plan.

1. Executive Summary - A one page summary of your business plan:

  • A very short history of the business
  • A very short summary of the owner’s experience in the industry
  • The amount and type of financing required
  • The amount of equity (money) already invested and collateral offered
  • The purpose for which the money will be used

2. The Business - Describes your business and the industry you are in:

  • The current status of the business (start-up, existing, acquisition)
  • The business structure (sole-proprietor, partnership, limited liability, corporation)
  • Products/services your business offers
  • Suppliers of your products
  • What differentiates your business from you competitors
  • Description of business location and hours of operation
  • Short and long term goals

3. Products/Services Offered - Describes the products and/or services that your business provides, written so that a lay person can easily understand:

  • A short description of products/services
  • Price structure of the products/services
  • Percentage of total gross sales that the products/services comprises
  • Which products/services are the most profitable
  • Any changes you foresee
  • A list of other products/services and any special or unique features

4. Market Analysis - Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about your business' environment:

  • Your specific industry
  • Major trends
  • Lifecycle stage of the industry (infancy, growth, decline)
  • Who your customers are (individuals, small businesses, etc.)
  • What their demographic makeup is (age, sex, profession, etc.)
  • Your market area (Example: 20 mile radius of Towson)
  • Number of potential customers within your market area
  • How long they've been in business
  • Approximately how much business they do
  • Their strengths and weaknesses
  • Why customers will go to you instead of your competitor

5. Approach to Selling - How you will get these customers to purchase your products or services, describing each method of advertising:

  • Short description of advertising method (flyers, radio spots, newspaper ads, etc.)
  • The frequency that it will be used
  • The cost of the method of advertising
  • How many potential customers will be reached

6. Management and Personnel - Showcase the key members of your team and their responsibilities, including for each position:

  • The position title
  • The name of the person in the position
  • A description of the person’s responsibilities
  • A short description of the person's business background and experience

For less significant positions or positions that are not yet filled, only the position title and description are necessary. You will also want to include your team of professionals: your accountant, attorney, SBDC consultant, etc.

Tip: Organizational charts are very helpful.

7. Financial Assumption - Explains how you came up with the numbers in the following sections, validated by your research. Any category that would not be obvious to the reader should be explained. An example of this section would look like this:

  • Gross Sales - Projected sales are based on (1) the average sales of four similar stores in our same market area, (2) the national average of gross sales per square foot for such stores, and (3) the independent surveys of 12 similar stores in comparable demographic areas.
  • Cost of Goods Sales - The cost of goods is based on an 80% average markup on inventory.
  • Payroll - Payroll expense includes a $36,000 salary for the owner ($3,000/mo.)

8. Financial Data - Discussions contained in the other sections of the plan should be reflected in the financial information.

  • Sources and Uses of Funds - where the businesses funds will come from and where they will be spent
  • Balance Sheet - businesses assets, liabilities, and net worth (a snapshot in time of your business's financial strength)

9. Cash Flow Projection - Shows how cash flows into and out of your business on a monthly basis. This table will be of particular interest to a financier, as it shows that your business will have the ability to make regular monthly note payments in addition to your other expenses.

10. Appendices and Supporting Documents - Any reference that was made earlier in the business plan. Such documents include:

  • Extended version of tax report
  • Credit history
  • Listing of assets owned
  • Certificates of qualification
  • Documentation of cash currently held (i.e. bank statement)
  • Specific market/industry research

Additional Business Plan Resources

  • Business Plan Workbook - For a more detailed guide for business plan development, order "Let’s Write Your Business Plan Workbook" by Ginny L. Kuebler. The booklet is an extremely helpful Step-By-Step guide at a cost of $20, which easily integrates your ideas onto written paper. Click here to order.
  • 500+ Free Sample Business Plans - Choose the category that is closest to your own business or industry, and find a plan you like. You can use these for reference in writing your own plan, or actually open it and edit it to match your business (only if you choose to purchase their software).
  • Blank Business Planning Templates – SCOREs tools for new and established businesses, including financial statements.
  • LIVE PLAN-An online app that helps you through the process of writing a business plan. Contact your local SBDC Consultant for a discount.

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Information on: County Clerks, Chambers of Commerce, Secretary of State, Texas Workforce Commission, US Dept. of Labor, Business permits/licenses, IRS, State Comptroller’s Office, State Board of Insurance, TX Dept. of Economic Development

Excel spreadsheet that will help assess how much money will be needed to start the business

Is it the right idea for you? Does the business idea have a market? How many competitors are in that market? How much money will be needed to finance the start-up?

Business Plan

This document will help you find the uniqueness of your business.

Use this worksheet to help you create a customer profile.

Quick, easy to follow template to help you write an Executive Summary.

The standard version used by the U.S. Small Business Administration and SBDC’s across the nation.

Financial Worksheets

Use this set of Excel financial spreadsheet examples to create cash flow, profit and loss, sales and balance sheet forecasts.

This tool calculates pricing from costs of goods sold information

An Excel spreadsheet containing explanations to each line item and step by step instructions on how to complete.

Marketing Plan

You will define your target market with this document which will also help you maximize your marketing efforts.

A worksheet to help you determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of not only your business but of your competitors as well.

This document reviews the business concept, target market, industry trends, marketing goals, SWOT, tactics to implement the strategies, and how to measure results with these marketing efforts.

This article discusses the 5 main elements that banks review to see if you are worthy of a business loan.

List of the typical types of documents a bank will request when considering an SBA guaranteed loan and a conventional loan.

Find Your Lender

SBA 7a Lender Activity Report as of 10-31-2021

Alternative Financing

Other ways to obtain funds to grow a business

Buying a Business

Franchising can be a great alternative if you want to have some guidance in the start-up phase of the business.

While there are various several valuation approaches, the most commonly used method is the Multiple Of Seller’s Discretionary Earnings.

Discussion of steps to starting the purchase of a business, advantages to choosing an existing business and doing your due diligence.

Top 20 things you’ll need to have or know before buying a business.

Miscellaneous

View the latest NTSBDC Network directory for contact information of other local SBDC’s.

Overhead rates can help you effectively manage operations by measuring overall performance against similar companies in your industry.

Link to the local purchasing agents to find out how your business can sell to them.

Websites for information on how a small business can get minority certified and how it can begin doing business with the three levels of government: local, state and federal.

Additional Resources

Note: Templates, forms and resources can be downloaded to help in business planning. Materials, services or products offered by this SBDC do not imply or constitute a recommendation or endorsement by the SBDC, but is only intended to be a convenience for you. You must perform your “due diligence” by reviewing all materials to determine if they meet your needs.

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Maine SBDC’s Business Plan Guide

Writing a business plan is an important step in starting or expanding any business. A business plan provides an essential roadmap for your business that outlines goals and provides details on how you plan to achieve these goals. It is also a great tool in communicating your business’ potential to investors and financial institutions.

We’ve developed a step by step guide to help you write your business plan. 

Maine SBDC’s Peter Harriman walks you through each section of a business plan. He highlights the important parts and provides helpful tips & tricks. 

Downloadable PDF Guides are available in English , French , and Somali . 

This tool is best used in conjunction with a Maine SBDC business advisor or other professional. The Maine SBDC has been providing free business advising to Maine’s small businesses and entrepreneurs since 1977.  We have experienced, knowledgeable, certified business advisors who can help businesses at all stages to provide confidential, individualized business development assistance – at no cost.  Our centers are located around the state.  Call us at 800-679-7232   or visit our website to find out how we can help you.

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Business Plan Basics: Crafting Your Roadmap to Success

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We’ll dive into the essential elements of crafting a comprehensive business plan. We’ll explore the “whys” of  having a plan,  your target audience for the plan, and some steps to effectively execute it. We’ll also take a look at available resources to assist with building your plan. Our goal is to equip you with the insights, strategies and resources to create a compelling roadmap for your venture’s success.

Objectives:

  • Learn the importance of creating a business plan
  • Learn about the main components of a business plan
  • Learn about resources and tools available to assist with creating your plan
  • Learn how to begin to execute your plan

Cost: No fee

Register at: https://missouri.ecenterdirect.com/events/25286

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8 Business Plan Templates You Can Get for Free

Author: Kody Wirth

8 min. read

Updated April 10, 2024

A business plan template can be an excellent tool to simplify the creation of your business plan. 

The pre-set structure helps you organize ideas, covers all critical business information, and saves you time and effort on formatting.

The only issue? There are SO many free business plan templates out there. 

So, which ones are actually worth using? 

To help remove the guesswork, I’ve rounded up some of the best business plan templates you can access right now. 

These are listed in no particular order, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

What to look for in a business plan template

Not all business plan templates are created equal. As you weigh your options and decide which template(s) you’ll use, be sure to review them with the following criteria in mind:

  • Easy to edit: A template should save you time. That won’t be the case if you have to fuss around figuring out how to edit the document, or even worse, it doesn’t allow you to edit at all.
  • Contains the right sections: A good template should cover all essential sections of a business plan , including the executive summary, product/service description, market/competitive analysis, marketing and sales plan, operations, milestones, and financial projections. 
  • Provides guidance: You should be able to trust that the information in a template is accurate. That means the organization or person who created the template is highly credible, known for producing useful resources, and ideally has some entrepreneurial experience.
  • Software compatibility: Lastly, you want any template to be compatible with the software platforms you use. More than likely, this means it’s available in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or PDF format at a minimum. 

1. Bplans — A plan with expert guidance

Preview of Bplans' free business plan template download asset.

Since you’re already on Bplans, I have to first mention the templates that we have available. 

Our traditional and one-page templates were created by entrepreneurs and business owners with over 80 years of collective planning experience. We revisit and update them annually to ensure they are approachable, thorough, and aligned with our team’s evolving best practices.  

The templates, available in Word, PDF, or Google Doc formats, include in-depth guidance on what to include in each section, expert tips, and links to additional resources. 

Plus, we have over 550 real-world sample business plans you can use for guidance when filling out your template.

Download: Traditional lender-ready business plan template or a simple one-page plan template .

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2. SBA — Introduction to business plans

sbdc business plan template

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two different business plan templates along with a short planning guide. 

While not incredibly in-depth, it’s enough to help you understand how traditional and lean plans are structured and what information needs to be covered. The templates themselves are more like examples, providing you with a finished product to reference as you write your plan.

The key benefit of using these templates is that they were created by the SBA. While they may provide less guidance, you can be assured that the information and structure meet their expectations.

Explore: The SBA’s planning guide and free templates

3. SCORE — Planning workbook

sbdc business plan template

SCORE’s template is more like a workbook. It includes exercises after each section to help you get your ideas down and turn them into a structured plan.

The market research worksheets are especially useful. They provide a clear framework for identifying your target market and analyzing competitors from multiple angles. Plus, they give you an easy way to document all the information you’re collecting.

You will likely have to remove the exercises in this template to make it investor-ready. But it can be worth it if you’re struggling to get past a blank page and want a more interactive planning method.

Download: SCORE’s business plan template

4. PandaDoc — A template with fillable forms

sbdc business plan template

PandaDoc’s library offers a variety of industry-specific business plan templates that feature a modern design flair and concise instructions. 

These templates are designed for sharing. They include fillable fields and sections for non-disclosure agreements, which may be necessary when sending a plan to investors.  

But the real benefit is their compatibility with PandaDoc’s platform. Yes, they are free, but if you’re a PandaDoc subscriber, you’ll have far more customization options. 

Out of all their templates, the standard business plan template is the most in-depth. The rest, while still useful, go a bit lighter on guidance in favor of tailoring the plan to a specific industry.

Explore: PandaDoc’s business plan template library  

5. Canva — Pitch with your plan

A sample of the 696 free business plan templates available from Canva. The templates represented here are for a restaurant and two options designed around a minimalist beige aesthetic.

Canva is a great option for building a visually stunning business plan that can be used as a pitch tool. It offers a diverse array of templates built by their in-house team and the larger creative community, meaning the number of options constantly grows.

You will need to verify that the information in the template you choose matches the standard structure of a traditional business plan. 

You should do this with any template, but it’s especially important with any tool that accepts community submissions. While they are likely reviewed and approved, there may still be errors.

Remember, you can only edit these templates within Canva. Luckily, you only need a free subscription, and you may just miss out on some of the visual assets being used. 

To get the most value, it may be best to create a more traditional planning document and transfer that information into Canva. 

Explore: Canva’s business plan gallery

6. ClickUp — The collaborative template

Preview of ClickUp's business plan template within the project management platform. It includes a number of fillable cells to help guide the creation process.

Out of all the project management tools that offer free business plan templates, ClickUp’s is the most approachable.

Rather than throwing you into all the features and expecting you to figure it out—ClickUp provides a thorough startup guide with resource links, images, and videos explaining how to write a plan using the tool. 

There’s also a completed sample plan (structured like an expanded one-page plan) for you to reference and see how the more traditional document can connect to the product management features. You can set goals, target dates, leave comments, and even assign tasks to someone else on your team. 

These features are limited to the ClickUp platform and will not be useful for everyone. They will likely get in the way of writing a plan you can easily share with lenders or investors. 

But this is a great option if you’re looking for a template that makes internal collaboration more fluid and keeps all your information in one place.

Sign Up: Get a free trial of ClickUp and explore their template library

7. Smartsheet — A wide variety of templates

A preview of the Smartsheet business plan template. It provides a preview of the cover page, directory, and small views of the remaining template pages.

I’m including Smartsheet’s library of templates on this list because of the sheer number of options they provide. 

They have a simple business plan template, a one-page plan, a fill-in-the-blank template, a plan outline, a plan grading rubric, and even an Excel-built project plan. All are perfectly usable and vary in visual style, depth of instructions, and the available format.

Honestly, the only drawback (which is also the core benefit) is that the amount of templates can be overwhelming. If you’re already uncertain which plan option is right for you, the lengthy list they provide may not provide much clarity.

At the same time, it can be a great resource if you want a one-stop shop to view multiple plan types.

Explore: Smartsheet’s business plan template library  

8. ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan

Preview of the ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan template. It just represents the cover page of the full template.

I’m adding ReferralRock’s template to this list due to its specificity. 

It’s not your standard business plan template. The plan is tailored with specific sections and guidance around launching an affiliate marketing business. 

Most of the template is dedicated to defining how to choose affiliates, set commissions, create legal agreements, and track performance.

So, if you plan on starting an affiliate marketing business or program, this template will provide more specific guidance. Just know that you will likely need to reference additional resources when writing the non-industry sections of your plan.

Download: ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan template

Does it matter what business plan template you use?

The short answer is no. As long as the structure is correct, it saves you time, and it helps you write your business plan , then any template will work. 

What it ultimately comes down to, is what sort of value you hope to get from the template. 

  • Do you need more guidance? 
  • A simple way to structure your plan? 
  • An option that works with a specific tool?
  • A way to make your plan more visually interesting?

Hopefully, this list has helped you hone in on an option that meets one (or several) of these needs. Still, it may be worth downloading a few of these templates to determine the right fit. 

And really, what matters most is that you spend time writing a business plan . It will help you avoid early mistakes, determine if you have a viable business, and fully consider what it will take to get up and running. 

If you need additional guidance, check out our library of planning resources . We cover everything from plan formats , to how to write a business plan, and even how to use it as a management tool . 

If you don’t want to waste time researching other templates, you can download our one-page or traditional business plan template and jump right into the planning process.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Kody Wirth

Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

Grow 30% faster with the right business plan. Create your plan with LivePlan.

Table of Contents

  • Qualities of a good template
  • ReferralRock
  • Does the template matter?

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COMMENTS

  1. Business Plan, Business Plan Templates, Business Plan Samples

    Find over 800 free or low-cost business plans for various industries and purposes from the Small Business Development Center. Learn how to write a business plan with guides, tools, and tips from the SBA.

  2. How To Write an SBA Business Plan [+Free Template]

    Learn how to create a business plan for an SBA loan with this guide and template. It covers the key sections, tips, and examples of a successful SBA business plan.

  3. PDF Business Plan Workbook

    This Business Plan Workbook covers the narrative portion of the business plan. The financial portion of the business plan is covered in Financial Projection Workbook. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small usiness Administration. All opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed

  4. Business Plans

    The mission of the Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (SBDCNET) is to meet the research and information needs of the SBDC community in the United States and its territories. SBDCNET serves as a resource providing timely, relevant research, web-based information, and training to SBDC counselors and their small business clients.

  5. SBA Business Plan Template

    An SBA business plan template is the document you must hand into the bank or credit union when requesting a loan for a start-up business. The US Small Business Administration (SBA), a government agency that backs small businesses, provides guidance and other assistance. As such, this document is crucial to convincing them and loan agencies that ...

  6. How to Write an SBA Business Plan + Template

    Resources and tools for writing an SBA business plan. Remember, you can download a free SBA-lender-approved business plan template. It includes detailed instructions to help you write each section, expert guidance and tips, and is formatted as lenders and investors expect.

  7. PDF SMALL BUSINESS RESILIENCY GUIDE

    A Note from America's SBDC Dear Small Business Owner, Most entrepreneurs know that a well-conceived business plan is critical to the success of a new business. It should be just as clear that a business resiliency plan will be critical to the sustainability and success of your business. Every business will face an unexpected disruption at ...

  8. Business Planning

    A simple, one page outline that you can utilize to complete a rough draft of your business plan. The LA SBDC will help you craft a document that presents your company in the best light for lenders, investors, employees and serve as a tool for managing the business. For additional help call your local SBDC service center.

  9. Writing a Business Plan

    Below you will find some resources to help you with writing a business plan. The SBDC at SIU is available confidentially and free of charge to help you put a business plan together and also to provide a review and make sure it is ready to go to the bank. Contact us at [email protected] or 618-536-2424 to set up an appointment.

  10. Business Plan Outline / Maryland Small Business Development / Maryland

    Blank Business Planning Templates - SCOREs tools for new and established businesses, including financial statements. LIVE PLAN-An online app that helps you through the process of writing a business plan. Contact your local SBDC Consultant for a discount. ... The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does ...

  11. SBA Business Plan Template: A Step-by-Step Guide

    The SBA Business Plan Template is a free, downloadable resource provided by the Small Business Administration. It serves as a guide to help entrepreneurs outline, organize, and create a comprehensive business plan. Using this template can greatly benefit your business endeavors by ensuring you cover crucial aspects, such as market analysis ...

  12. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started. Knowing what information to include in a business plan is sometimes not quite enough. If you're struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. ... Download a free SBA-approved business plan template built for ...

  13. Business Templates & Downloads from Collin SBDC

    Financial Template. Use this set of Excel financial spreadsheet examples to create cash flow, profit and loss, sales and balance sheet forecasts. Download. 1054 downloads189.64 KB. Start-Up Expense Calculator. Excel spreadsheet that will help assess how much money will be needed to start the business.

  14. Maine SBDC's Business Plan Guide

    We have experienced, knowledgeable, certified business advisors who can help businesses at all stages to provide confidential, individualized business development assistance - at no cost. Our centers are located around the state. Call us at 800-679-7232 or visit our website to find out how we can help you.

  15. Business Plan Basics: Crafting Your Roadmap to Success

    Our goal is to equip you with the insights, strategies and resources to create a compelling roadmap for your venture's success. Objectives: Learn the importance of creating a business plan. Learn about the main components of a business plan. Learn about resources and tools available to assist with creating your plan.

  16. 8 Business Plan Templates You Can Get for Free

    The rest, while still useful, go a bit lighter on guidance in favor of tailoring the plan to a specific industry. Explore: PandaDoc's business plan template library. 5. Canva — Pitch with your plan. Canva is a great option for building a visually stunning business plan that can be used as a pitch tool.