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A strong business plan is your roadmap to success. Use our downloadable free business plan template to outline your company’s goals and milestones, including how to structure, run, and grow your new business.
Use your powerful business plan to get funding or bring on new business partners. Show investors how you expect to develop and grow your company - and ensure they get a healthy return on their investment.
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Know you need a business plan, but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you. Download our free business plan outline, and follow the prompts to tailor it to your needs.
You’ll find all the sections usually included in a startup or SMB business plan, with step-by-step worksheets for key headers. Add in financing information if you’re seeking funding, and use the completed plan to showcase what your business can achieve.
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You can think of your business plan as the roadmap for managing and growing your business. It’s a dynamic document which evolves and changes over time, and covers your value proposition, your operating plans and the sort of support you need to succeed.
Your business plan is a key document to get funding or bring on new partners and investors. By setting out your opportunities, aims and milestones, you’ll show how and why your company is a strong investment prospect.
For startups in particular, investors want to learn why the founders are the right people to do the job, and what money is needed to get the business off the ground. The business plan will also walk through the planned steps to move from startup to scaleup - and on to solid profitability.
Your business plan should sum up what’s special about your company, and how you will grow. Just as every business is different - your business plan will also be unique to you. However, startup and SMB business plans typically fall into a couple of broad categories:
The traditional business plan is the most commonly used format, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). This is a fuller document which may run to 15 - 20 pages, and includes deep and detailed business information. The focus is on research and analysis - data driven decisions rather than flowery description. Lenders and investors commonly request this business plan format.
Lean startup business plans focus on high-level information, and may be as short as a single page. Use highlights to catch the reader’s attention - but you can expect to need to provide more detail if an investor or lender requests it.
Each business plan is unique. Build your own plan by choosing the sections of a traditional business plan which
suit your business and your needs. Here are the key segments to consider:
1. Executive summary: Make it easy for the reader by pulling out the key information in simple, impactful terms.
Cover the company’s product and niche, mission statement, leadership, employees, operations,
financial projections and location.
2. Company Description: Paint a picture of your company. Show who your customer is and what problem you solve.
Explain what makes you special, and well placed to exceed in your niche.
3. Market analysis: Set out the current state of your industry, and relevant market trends. Give details about the
broad opportunities and threats, key competitors and likely changes to demand. Don’t forget to talk about how
you will grow the market, or take market share from pre-existing businesses.
4. Products and services: Now it’s time to go into more detail about what you do. Set out the products or services
you provide, covering the pricing, consumer benefits and profit margins. If you’re selling a physical product
you’ll need to walk through the supply and production process.
5. Marketing and sales strategy: Where are your customers and how will you connect with them? Explain how
you encourage repeat sales, and how you’ll make use of traditional and innovative advertising and marketing
strategies. Don’t forget to cover the practicalities of actually closing a sale - for example, which ecommerce
or POS platform you’ll use.
6. Organization and management: Lay out the legal structure of your business - and the organizational structure
of your leadership team. If you’re seeking funding, remember that investors invest in founders as much as they
do business ideas. You need to show how each of your leaders can contribute to the success of your venture.
7. Financial plan: Adding in financial plans and projections can give depth and show opportunities for scale to your potential investors. If you have an established business, you’ll be able to use live documents such as income statements, balance sheets, and other financial information. New businesses should provide targets and estimates instead, showing the rationale and assumptions used.
8. Funding request and budget: A crucial section if you're asking for funding. Explain your 5-year funding requirements, and cover how you’ll use the capital you raise to boost profit. Show you’re a solid investment by providing a budget to cover staffing, development, manufacturing and marketing costs. Don’t forget to disclose any future plans to raise funds, or any known capital expenditures which are coming up.
9. Appendices: Depending on your business type, and how you’re using your business plan, you may want to provide supporting documents. These could include founder resumes, product descriptions and pictures, legal paperwork, references, licenses, permits, or patents.
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