Below you will find a business plan template or business plan format, describing the main components of a traditional business plan. It’s basic design has been around for many many years, maybe even hundreds, I’m not sure, but it goes way back.

A business plan is important both for you and for others who want to know about your business. It describes your business, it’s goals, and financial projections. In short, it serves as your business’s resume.

Every business, of course, needs a direction and a strategy. That’s what a good business plan will give you. Remember this: a well-written business plan must provide your business with a blueprint for success. Your business plan will also go a long way to help you keep your thinking organized and in perspective.

Your plan does not have to be long and complicated, especially at the beginning. For smaller businesses, keep it as simple and succinct as you can, yet informative. Use it as a living document, try to keep it flexible, modifying it often as needed.

I actually know some small businesses without one and still doing pretty good. However, most business people would agree that every business needs a business plan in order to reach its full potential.

Now you can either purchase business plan software, which might end up saving you some time, or you can save money by creating your own business plan using the standard format.

Along with the template you will need your own word processor and spreadsheet software, maybe Microsoft Excel. If you don’t have Excel, you can go to (new window) for great, FREE software, I think just as good as the latest expensive version of Microsoft Office.

Our business plan template should help to show you what is considered in today’s often crazy business world to be the main components of a good business plan. Use this template as a guide, a word processor, spreadsheet software, and your own creativity to produce a great business plan.

However, which ever way you choose, creating your own business plan or purchasing business plan software from someone, please realize this: especially for someone first starting a small business, a small business plan is very important, even essential.


There is Help if You Need It!

If you plan on qualifying for a bank loan or obtaining grant money for your small business, make sure you are building, eventually, a professional looking business plan. Sorry, go ahead and try! There is just no way around that. That’s because the bank or other lending institution you want to borrow from is so incredibly particular, they will probably want to know about every little detail of your proposed business venture before they will even think about forking out money to you.

It’s always been that way, but especially now, with the recession we are having. However, I suggest using a simple business plan format, at the beginning of your small business start-up, similar to the one I have below, keeping it as simple as you can. Even though a business plan is necessary, put most of your time and efforts into actually building up the profit making areas of your small business.

If you find that creating a professional looking business plan is harder than you thought, and you feel that you need further help, I have a suggestion for you. I don’t know of any better or more popular business plan building software than Business Plan Pro (new window). They make it as easy as possible for you to put together an absolutely terrific, professional business plan, and, in as little time as possible.

They do it by providing hundreds of ready made, complete, perfect business plans, and all you have to do is modify the plan you like best, then changing the content around to suit your particular small business. I am an affiliate of Bplans, but I’m also saying this for your benefit, so you don’t get all bogged down creating a business plan. But whatever you choose to do, remember, try to keep it simple.

Here it is, The Basic Business
Plan Template

Executive Summary

This is a brief summary of a small business plan, some background information, and main conclusions. It’s intended as an aid in decision making and a help for readers other than yourself to quickly understand the business without having to read the entire business plan.

The Executive Summary may be the only part of your small business plan that most readers, like bank representatives or investors, will study, so make it informative and memorable for them.

The first paragraph usually contains specific information concerning the businesses name, where it is located, the nature and purpose of your small business, what it sells (especially new products), potential for growth, and keys to success. It should also contain expected opportunities, and reasons for any competitive advantage you feel your business has.

Business Plan Template
Mission Statement

A good mission statement is a critical element in defining your business, and, if necessary, communicate its true goals to customers, employees, owners, and others involved. For example, if you believe customer satisfaction and customer service are important, say so. If you place a high value on fair treatment of employees and that employee creativity should be rewarded, then say that too.

Don’t confuse the Mission Statement with the Statement of Objectives. They are both about goals. But the Mission Statement is about fundamental values. The Statement of Objectives is about measurable, expected numbers.

Business Plan Template
Statement of Objectives

List specific, measurable business goals, including expected growth rates, sales, profits, but no more than three or four of your most important objectives to emphasize your focus. This needs to show your ability to track progress towards goals and measure results.

Business Plan Template
Keys to Small Business Success

Each business has different keys to success. Include here a few key factors that will really make the difference between the success or failure of your small business. What they are for your business depends on who you are and what you offer.

For example for your San Francisco restaurant business, location and parking might be keys to success. For accountants and attorneys, the keys might include professional quality, reliability, and participation in community organizations. Don’t let your list of keys to success get too long. Three or four items should be sufficient.

Business Plan Template
Product and Services

Describe why you are in business and list your products or services, including prices. Everyone is going to want to know, of course, what you are selling.

Business Plan Template
Market Analysis Text

Include here a description of the particular market your business is competing in, for example, “selling automobiles on, an online auction website.” Be specific. Try to give basic information about the market, briefly but in some depth also.

Include exactly who your target customers are and needs you are fulfilling better than your competitors. You might include a market analysis table, chart, and text.

If you include tables and charts in your business plan, it can add color, understanding, interest, and ease of reading to such business documents. It also gives your small business plan, or other business document, a more professional look.

Use the text to explain the numbers from the Market Analysis Table and Charts (see below). For the numbers in the Market Analysis Table, think about groups of target customers, also sometimes called market segments. For example, students, faculty, and staff are different market segments. So are home offices, small businesses, and large businesses.

Business Plan Template
Market Analysis Table

Target Market (or Market Segment) Growth 2011 2012 2013 2014
Beginners (Potential Owners) 150% 500 1250 3125 7813
Small Business Owners 120% 400 880 1936 4259
Totals 900 2130 5061 12072

This table is not for actual customers but potential customers. Usually, you will have thousands of potential customers for every one who becomes an actual customer. For example, a coffee house’s potential customers are all the people in town aged 15-92. For each segment or group you define, estimate its annual growth rate in whole numbers.

Note: This Market Analysis Table and the Break Even Analysis Table below were produced by me using an HTML editor. You can also produce wonderful graphs using html. If the prospect of having to produce your own graphs and tables from scratch seems daunting to you, there are software programs such as Business Plan Pro, by Palo Alto Software, that will make it much easier to produce a whole Business Plan, with tables and graphs.

Would you like to learn how to build tables like this using HTML? I can tell you for a fact, learning HTML is much easier than you think. It does take some practice but you can learn the basics in only a very few hours, it’s fun, and you will be well on your way to being an expert at it. For a free HTML tutorial at CLICK HERE! (new window)

Business Plan Template
Market Analysis Chart

In this business plan template the Market Analysis Table is used to produce the Market Analysis Chart(s). Use the table and chart(s) to produce the Market Analysis Text (a written interpretation of the table and charts). The chart was produced in Microsoft Office Excel.

Business Plan Template
Management Summary

This includes a description of top management and what value they bring to the company as far as skills and experience. If there are many involved in top management, an organization chart showing a flow of responsibility would be helpful.

Many business plans will include here a chart showing a yearly payroll summary for all employees of the business. Also describe, in the Management Summary, the legal structure of your business, that is, what is the legal form of its ownership? Is it a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or other?

Business Plan Template
Financial Forecast

An estimate of start-up costs and annual projection of income and expenses using a balance sheet (new window), income statement (new window), and a cash flow statement (new window)

Business Plan Template
Break Even Analysis

The point reached during the business cycle when total costs and total revenue are equal and there is neither profit nor loss is called the break even point. This is nice to know and look forward to because any revenue beyond the break even point is pure profit.

Business Plan Template
Break Even Analysis Table

The Break-Even Analysis Table above can be used to:

  • Produce a Break-Even Chart (see below).
  • Create a Break Even Sales Level or Break-Even Point, the number of sales needed to just break-even. Any sales beyond the break-even point are pure profit. Anything below that means you’re losing money.
  • Use the table, break-even point, and chart to produce the Break-Even Analysis Text (a written interpretation or explanation of the table, break-even point, and chart.

If you have access to Microsoft Excel, it should contain a break-even analysis calculator to help you produce the table, break-even sales level, and chart.

The free has similar tools and capabilities.

Break-Even Point (in number of sales) = Fixed Costs / (Average Price Per Unit – Average Cost Per Unit)

Any sales above the break-even point are pure profit. Anything below that means you’re losing money.

That’s about it! Those are really the main components of a great business plan. Remember, a business plan does not have to be long, especially for a beginner, and even for an expert, quality is almost always better than so much quantity. Concentrate on the essentials above, make it informative as you can for others, and a blue-print to success for yourself.