To start your business journey on the right foot, download our free business plan template and break down your business goals into actionable components.
Before you can start your business, you need to find your niche, seek financial backing and create a business plan to bring your idea to fruition. Our free business plan template will guide you through every step of the way. But first, let’s quickly define what a business plan is.
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that explains how a business will operate and establish itself in the market to generate profits. Business plans are usually created before a new business starts, to make sure there are no loose ends that could affect its profitability or ability to operate. They can also be created for business improvement purposes.
Business plans are also crucial for raising funds for new business ventures, as they’re used to provide the key details an investor should know to determine whether or not a business is a sound investment.
What Is a Business Plan Template?
Our business plan template outlines the business, product or service that you want to launch. It also details the market you’re targeting, the goals and objectives of the venture and how you propose to achieve them.
The business plan is one of the three pillars that any new idea must stand on to be successful. The other two are a marketing plan and a financial plan. These will be touched upon in part within the business plan template and included in full as supporting documents.
What Should Be Included In a Business Plan Template?
Business plans vary from one organization to another. However, there are key elements that any business plan should have to provide a clear picture of a business, especially if you’re creating a business plan to request funding from investors. Here’s an outline that includes some of the most fundamental aspects to add to your business plans.
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Marketing & sales strategy
- Operational plan
- Financial projections
- Organizational structure and management
- Legal structure
While you can decide how thorough you want your business plan to be, you’ll want to provide as many details as possible. A detailed business plan can reveal significant flaws in your business model. Business planning flaws such as ignoring industry trends can cost your company money, or could even lead to bankruptcy, so it’s important that you take your time when making a business plan.
How to Use This Free Business Plan Template
Now, let’s dive into each of those sections to have a better idea of how to use this business plan template for Word.
Here’s where you lay out your idea. Your executive summary is the elevator pitch, something that encapsulates your business plan contents in just one page or a couple of paragraphs.
The main purpose of your executive summary is to highlight the key elements from your business plan thatyou wish to communicate to investors or stakeholders such as the market opportunity, an overview of how you’ll manage the venture, competitive advantages, key aspects of the company background, etc.
This section explains what your company does and what it intends to achieve.
- Mission statement: The mission statement is a short action declaration that explains the purpose of your business and what it does. It should be one or two sentences long.
- Vision statement: The vision statement is similar to your mission statement in terms of length, but the vision statement states the future goals of the organization.
- Value proposition: The value proposition explains how your company will offer value to customers in a unique way that differentiates it from the competition.
- Core values: The core values are the guiding principles that shape your company’s organizational culture, such as integrity, innovation and collaboration.
This section should explain to readers how your company intends to compete and position itself in a particular market. To do so, you should include the following:
- Industry analysis: Provide an overview of your business industry. Briefly explain if there are any current trends that might affect your business, either positively or negatively, such as new competitors, new technologies or any other changes. You should include statistics to explain how your industry has grown over the years to convince stakeholders of its value.
- Target market: The target market section should explain the ideal customer for your products. Your marketing activities will be focused on this type of customer, so it should be the most profitable customer to serve. You can easily express what your target market is by creating buyer personas.
- Direct competitors: Direct competitors are businesses that offer exactly the same type of product you do and also serve the same target market. For this reason, you should use your unique value proposition to differentiate from them. Think about two different brands of soda. They offer the exact same product to the same market, at the same place.
- Indirect competitors: Indirect competitors are businesses that offer substitute products to your target market, which means they don’t offer the same product as you do, but their product could also be used to satisfy the same customer need. Now think about butter and margarine. While the product isn’t exactly the same, it can be purchased by customers to satisfy the same need.
- SWOT analysis: SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is a very important part of a business plan because it allows you to do a quick assessment of your current competitive position by looking at the internal strengths and weaknesses of your business while also considering any opportunities and threats from the external environment, such as the risk of new competitors or the opportunity of an underserved market.
Marketing & Sales Strategy
The purpose of this section is to explain how your company will market the product to your customers. It uses the 4 Ps of marketing as the guiding principle.
- Product: Explain what your product is, how it works and how it’s meant to be used. Also, explain some of the main attributes or features that make it superior to other products on the market. This can be anything such as lower production costs, durability or ease of use.
- Price: Pricing is an important part of your marketing strategy. Use this template to indicate your estimated profit margin along with a general description of the expected costs.
- Place: Place simply refers to two main things. Your sales channels, which are the methods you use to sell your product, such as online e-commerce platforms or brick-and-mortar locations and your distribution channels, which are the methods of transportation you’ll use to bring your product from the production line to the final customer.
- Promotion: Use this section to explain the various methods you’ll use to advertise your product, such as websites, social media platforms or traditional methods such as TV, newspaper or radio ads.
This section should provide a quick overview of how your business will operate by outlining the following areas:
- Day-to-day operations: Briefly explain how your business will serve customers or manufacture products. The goal is to provide a quick overview of the daily operations of your business for stakeholders and investors.
- Supply chain: Every business needs to purchase raw materials, parts and components to deliver products or services to its target market. Use this section to explain the key steps in your supply chain, and who are your key suppliers.
- Permits and regulatory compliance: Use this section to list any permits or regulatory compliance standards your products should meet, if any.
Use this section to attach any financial documents you might have. If you’re starting a new business you can use financial forecasts. Here are some of the financial documents you can include.
- Income statements
- Balance sheets
- Cash flow statements
- Capital expenditure budgets
- Cost forecasts
- Gross profit projections
- Profit & loss statement
- Projected balance sheet
In addition to these documents, it’s advisable to include an exit strategy. The exit strategy is a contingency plan that’s executed to minimize losses for investors and business owners in the event of bankruptcy or if the business must be terminated at some point. Use this section to briefly explain how you’d execute your exit strategy.
Management Team and Key Personnel
It helps to build confidence and give investors a sense of the risk they’re dealing with if you can provide profiles of your executive and management team. In fact, anyone who will be instrumental in executing the business plan should be included. Their skills and experience can go a long way to realizing your business plan.
Last but not least, use this section to explain whether your business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or any other type of legal structure.
While you can decide how thorough you want your business plan to be, the more details you provide the better, as a detailed business plan can reveal significant flaws in your business model. Business planning flaws such as ignoring industry trends can cost your company money, or could even lead to bankruptcy, so it’s important that you take your time when making a business plan.
Why Should You Use a Business Plan Template?
The main reason for a business plan template is to show off your idea in the best possible way to attract investors by collecting the points that show why your business, product or service is viable.
The other reason is that nothing is possible without a plan. Launching a new business, product or service is a project, and a project without a plan is like a boat without a rudder. It might not sink, but it’s unlikely to get where you want it to go.
There are more detailed reasons to take the time and effort required to fill in our business plan template. For example, a bank and investors won’t let you in the door without a business plan. The same is true for any potential partners.
On top of that, the template provides broad strokes as to how to implement your idea. This is vitally important if you sway your investors and need to make the plan a reality.
Once you have investors on board, you need to turn your business plan into a viable project. Project management software like ProjectManager can help. Our Gantt charts can organize tasks, track costs, allocate resources and more. Plus, live dashboards give you a high-level view of performance to catch issues before they become problems. With project management software, you can plan, track and report on everything that matters. We’ll help you make your business plan a successful venture.
When Should You Use This Free Business Plan Template for Word?
You should use a business plan template when you’re getting ready to shop your idea for the bank, investors or a partner. Before using our template, you’ll want to have done all the necessary due diligence.
In other words, once you have an idea for the business, product or service, you need to do market research to see where it fits in the larger commercial landscape. Then, you’ll need to figure out how much capital you’ll need to realize the idea.
Once you have all the work done for your proposal, then you can start the process of filling in the business plan template. The more thorough your preparation, the more convincing your plan and the more likely you’ll get it off the ground.
Who Should Use This Free Business Plan Template for Word?
Anyone who is planning to run a business needs to use our business plan template. It’s your roadmap and provides you with a plan forward by outlining objectives, establishing priorities and more.
You’ll also need this business plan template if you already have an established business and are looking for buyers to sell it to. This is also true if you’re looking to determine the value of your business says for taxes or estate planning.
How to Track the Execution of Your Business Plan With ProjectManager
ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you organize your plan and execute it more effectively. Once you’ve filled in your business plan template, the real work begins. Our tool helps you create a schedule and manage your resources to successfully deliver your plan.
Gantt Charts to Plan
Use our Gantt chart project view to input your tasks or import the task list from any spreadsheet. You can also use one of the many industry-specific templates loaded into the tool to get you started. Then add durations for your tasks and they’ll populate the timeline side of the Gantt, giving you a full picture of the plan laid out chronologically.
Dashboards to Track Progress
When you execute your plan, you need to monitor its actual progress to make sure you’re on track. Our real-time dashboard collects status updates and automatically monitors your schedule, costs and other vital metrics, displaying them in easy-to-read graphs and charts. This high-level view helps you catch issues before they become problems.
Reports for Your Stakeholders
Keeping executives and other stakeholders in the loop is important. One-click reporting makes it simple to get data on the performance of your plan as it’s executed and then share those reports. They can even be filtered to give stakeholders the only information they want.
There’s so much more that ProjectManager does to make sure your plan is a success. From unlimited file storage to resource and team management, we allow you to make your business plan and implement it successfully.
What Other Free Excel Templates Can Help You Build a Business Plan?
Our business plan template collects a lot of information, but in order to have a thought-through plan, you’ll want to use some of the other free project management templates we have free on our website.
For your plan to work, you need to have a project charter. Our free project charter template helps you figure out the scope of your project, identify objectives and deliverables and even start figuring out the tasks, resources and costs for the work to come.
The statement of work outlines the course of your project plan, including activities, deliverables and the timetable. It defines these essential components of any plan and acts as the first step in your journey to creating a project plan. The free statement of work (SOW) template lays it all out for you.
Before the plan comes the proposal. It’s the pitch to get your project approved so you can then create a plan. The free project proposal template sets the stage and all you have to do is add the details. When approved you have already made the first step towards a plan, which makes it that much easier.
Related Business Planning Resources
If you’re looking for more information about business and planning, then check out the resources page on our website. We have tutorial videos, blog posts and guides that address every aspect of project management. Here are just a few relevant articles.
- 15 Free Word and Excel Templates for Business
- Strategic Planning in Business
- Why You Need a Reliable Business Continuity Plan
- How to Choose a Project Planner That’s Right for You
ProjectManager is an online tool that gives you real-time data to make better decisions when managing your project. Organize your teams, help them collaborate and drive your project more efficiently to a successful end. Join the tens of thousands of teams that already use ProjectManager and take your free 30-day trial today.