Simple Business Plan Templates

By Joe Weller | April 2, 2020

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LinkedIn

Link copied

In this article, we’ve compiled a variety of simple business plan templates, all of which are free to download in PDF, Word, and Excel formats.

On this page, you’ll find a one-page business plan template , a simple business plan for startups , a small-business plan template , a business plan outline , and more. We also include a business plan sample and the main components of a business plan to help get you started.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

This simple business plan template lays out each element of a traditional business plan to assist you as you build your own, and it provides space to add financing information for startups seeking funding. You can use and customize this simple business plan template to fit the needs for organizations of any size.

One-Page Business Plan Template

simple business plan making

Download One-Page Business Plan Template

Excel | Word | PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this one-page business plan to document your key ideas in an organized manner. The template can help you create a high-level view of your business plan, and it provides easy scannability for stakeholders. You can use this one-page plan as a reference to build a more detailed blueprint for your business. 

For additional single page plans, take a look at " One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

Download Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template

Use this fill-in-the-blank business plan template to guide you as you build your business plan. Each section comes pre-filled with sample content, with space to add customized verbiage relevant to your product or service.

For additional free, downloadable resources, visit " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."

Simple Business Plan for Startup

Start-Up Business Plan Template

‌ Download Startup Business Plan Template — Word

This business plan template is designed with a startup business in mind and contains the essential elements needed to convey key product or service details to investors and stakeholders. Keep all your information organized with this template, which provides space to include an executive summary, a company overview, competitive analysis, a marketing strategy, financial data, and more. For additional resources, visit " Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples ."

Simple Small-Business Plan Template

Small Business Plan Template

Download Simple Small-Business Plan Template

This template walks you through each component of a small-business plan, including the company background, the introduction of the management team, market analysis, product or service offerings, a financial plan, and more. This template also comes with a built-in table of contents to keep your plan in order, and it can be customized to fit your requirements.

Lean Business Plan Template

Lean Business Plan Template

Download Lean Business Plan Template

This lean business plan template is a stripped-down version of a traditional business plan that provides only the most essential aspects. Briefly outline your company and industry overview, along with the problem you are solving, as well as your unique value proposition, target market, and key performance metrics. There is also room to list out a timeline of key activities.

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Download Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Word  | PDF

Use this simple business plan outline as a basis to create your own business plan. This template contains 11 sections, including a title page and a table of contents, which details what each section should cover in a traditional business plan. Simplify or expand this outline to create the foundation for a business plan that fits your business needs.

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Download Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Excel | Smartsheet

This template doubles as a project plan and timeline to track progress as you develop your business plan. This business planning template enables you to break down your work into phases and provides room to add key tasks and dates for each activity. Easily fill in the cells according to the start and end dates to create a visual timeline, as well as to ensure your plan stays on track.

Simple Business Plan Rubric Template

simple business plan making

Download Simple Business Plan Rubric

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Once you complete your business plan, use this business plan rubric template to assess and score each component of your plan. This rubric helps you identify elements of your plan that meet or exceed requirements and pinpoint areas where you need to improve or further elaborate. This template is an invaluable tool to ensure your business plan clearly defines your goals, objectives, and plan of action in order to gain buy-in from potential investors, stakeholders, and partners.

Basic Business Plan Sample

Basic Business Plan Sample

Download Basic Business Plan Sample

This business plan sample serves as an example of a basic business plan that contains all the traditional components. The sample provides a model of what a business plan might look like for a fictional food truck business. Reference this sample as you develop your own business plan.

For additional resources to help support your business planning efforts, check out “ Free Strategic Planning Templates .”

Main Components of a Business Plan

The elements you include in your business plan will depend on your product or service offerings, as well as the size and needs of your business. 

Below are the components of a standard business plan and details you should include in each section:

  • Company name and contact information
  • Website address
  • The name of the company or individual viewing the presentation
  • Table of Contents
  • Company background and purpose
  • Mission and vision statement
  • Management team introduction
  • Core product and service offerings
  • Target customers and segments
  • Marketing plan
  • Competitive analysis
  • Unique value proposition
  • Financial plan (and requirements, if applicable)
  • Business and industry overview
  • Historical timeline of your business
  • Offerings and the problem they solve
  • Current alternatives
  • Competitive advantage
  • Market size
  • Target market segment(s)
  • Projected volume and value of sales compared to competitors
  • Differentiation from competitors
  • Pricing strategy
  • Marketing channels
  • Promotional plan
  • Distribution methods
  • Legal structure of your business
  • Names of founders, owners, advisors, etc.
  • Management team’s roles, relevant experience, and compensation plan
  • Staffing requirements and training plans
  • Physical location(s) of your business
  • Additional physical requirements (e.g., warehouse, specialized equipment, facilities, etc.)
  • Production workflow
  • Raw materials and sourcing methods
  • Projected income statement
  • Projected cash flow statement
  • Projected balance sheet
  • Break-even analysis
  • Charts and graphs
  • Market research and competitive analysis
  • Information about your industry
  • Information about your offerings
  • Samples of marketing materials
  • Other supporting materials

Tips for Creating a Business Plan

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of putting together a business plan. Below, you’ll find top tips to help simplify the process as you develop your own plan. 

  • Use a business plan template (you can choose from the variety above), or refer to the previous section to create a standard outline for your plan.
  • Modify your outline to reflect the requirements of your specific business. If you use a standard business plan outline, remove sections that aren’t relevant to you or aren’t necessary to run your business.
  • Gather all the information you currently have about your business first, and then use that information to fill out each section in your plan outline.
  • Use your resources and conduct additional research to fill in the remaining gaps. (Note: It isn’t necessary to fill out your plan in order, but the executive summary needs to be completed last, as it summarizes the key points in your plan.)
  • Ensure your plan clearly communicates the relationship between your marketing, sales, and financial objectives.
  • Provide details in your plan that illustrate your strategic plan of action, looking forward three to five years.
  • Revisit your plan regularly as strategies and objectives evolve.
  • What product or service are we offering?
  • Who is the product or service for?
  • What problem does our product or service offering solve?
  • How will we get the product or service to our target customers?
  • Why is our product or service better than the alternatives?
  • How can we outperform our competitors?
  • What is our unique value proposition?
  • When will things get done, and who is responsible for doing them?
  • If you need to obtain funding, how will you use the funding?
  • When are payments due, and when do payments come in?
  • What is the ultimate purpose of your business?
  • When do you expect to be profitable?

To identify which type of business plan you should write, and for more helpful tips, take a look at our guide to writing a simple business plan .

Benefits of Using a Business Plan Template

Creating a business plan can be very time-consuming, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Finding the right template for your business needs can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. 

Using a business plan template — instead of creating your plan from scratch — can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Enables you to immediately write down your thoughts and ideas in an organized manner
  • Provides structure to help outline your plan
  • Saves time and valuable resources
  • Helps ensure you don’t miss essential details

Limitations of a Business Plan Template

A business plan template can be convenient, but it has its drawbacks — especially if you use a template that doesn’t fit the specific needs of your business.

Below are some limitations of using a business plan template:

  • Each business is unique and needs a business plan that reflects that. A template may not fit your needs.
  • A template may restrict collaboration with other team members on different aspects of the plan’s development (sales, marketing, and accounting teams).
  • Multiple files containing different versions of the plan may be stored in more than one place.
  • You still have to manually create charts and graphs to add to the plan to support your strategy.
  • Updates to the plan, spreadsheets, and supporting documents have to be made in multiple places (all documents may not update in real time as changes are made).

Improve Your Business Plan with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

  • Credit cards
  • View all credit cards
  • Banking guide
  • Loans guide
  • Insurance guide
  • Personal finance
  • View all personal finance
  • Small business
  • View all small business
  • View all taxes

You’re our first priority. Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

What is a business plan?

1. write an executive summary, 2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.

Bizee

A business plan is a document that explains what your business does, how it makes money and who its customers are. Internally, writing a business plan should help you clarify your vision and organize your operations. Externally, you can share it with potential lenders and investors to show them you’re on the right track.

Business plans are living documents; it’s OK for them to change over time. Startups may update their business plans often as they figure out who their customers are and what products and services fit them best. Mature companies might only revisit their business plan every few years. Regardless of your business’s age, brush up this document before you apply for a business loan .

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.

» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps

Next up is your company description. This should contain basic information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.

Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.

Lastly, write a little about the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan

simple business plan making

The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the coming years.

If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain how the financing will help your business grow and how you plan to achieve those growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity your business presents to the lender.

For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch that new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.

» MORE: How to write a successful business plan for a loan

In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.

Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.

Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.

Include details about your sales and distribution strategies, including the costs involved in selling each product .

» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing

If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.

Accounting software may be able to generate these reports for you. It may also help you calculate metrics such as:

Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.

Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.

Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.

This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.

This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.

Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.

Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

Before the end of your business plan, summarize how your business is structured and outline each team’s responsibilities. This will help your readers understand who performs each of the functions you’ve described above — making and selling your products or services — and how much each of those functions cost.

If any of your employees have exceptional skills, you may want to include their resumes to help explain the competitive advantage they give you.

Finally, attach any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere. That might include:

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

Details of your personal and business credit history, if you’re seeking financing.

If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are some tips to write a detailed, convincing business plan:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business bank loan or professional investment, someone will be reading your business plan closely. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

On a similar note...

Find small-business financing

Compare multiple lenders that fit your business

One blue credit card on a flat surface with coins on both sides.

We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

  • Google Login

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

  • Google Analytics

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

  • Google Tag Manager
  • Infographics
  • Daily Infographics
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Data Visualization
  • Human Resources
  • Training and Development
  • Beginner Guides

Blog Business

How to Create a Business Plan to Win Over Investors (7+ Business Plan Templates)

By Midori Nediger , Jul 11, 2023

Business Plan Blog Header

A compelling business plan is essential to every new and growing business.

It’s the primary document that prospective investors use to evaluate the potential of a business, going hand in hand with a business pitch deck .

For a business plan, you need to organize a lot of information into a single, easy-to-read document. More than that, your business plan’s design should be engaging, inspire confidence in your stakeholders and motivate them to back your company and its vision. 

Gone are the days when designing a business plan from scratch was a time-consuming and challenging task. Today, business plan templates offer a convenient solution by providing pre-designed layouts that simplify the process.

In this blog, I’m going to break it down for you. I’ll share the six things you need to know to put together a compelling, engaging business plan. Ready to get started now? Venngage’s online Business Plan Maker  lets anyone create a winning business plan quickly and easily.

Just so you know, some of our business plan templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee.  Sign-up  is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Click to jump ahead:

  • How to format your business plan

Startup business plan templates

Simple business plan templates.

  • How to write your business plan
  • How to design an engaging executive summary
  • How to use charts and graphs to present data
  • How to communicate growth strategies in your business plan
  • How to present financial data in your business plan

1. How to format your business plan

To format your business plan:

  • Start with a clear title page.
  • Include an executive summary.
  • Provide a company description.
  • Conduct a market analysis.
  • Describe your product or service offering.
  • Outline your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Include organizational or business structure and management information.

A typical business plan is an in-depth document and covers every facet of your business (present and future). Creating a traditional business plan makes sense when you have a clear growth plan for the next three to five years, are in need of major funding, or want to attract long-term partners.  

A professional business plan typically has the following sections: 

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

A business plan can span a dozen or more pages because it presents the big picture, as complete as possible, to reassure others to invest in you. Investment can mean a few different things – usually financial, but also as partners or employees. 

The sections that can take a lot of research and add to the bulk of your business plan are your market analysis, marketing and sales plans, and financial projections. 

These are the sections that demonstrate your business acumen, your long-term vision, and your accountability. Whereas, sections like the executive summary are meant to grab attention, inspire and get people excited about your business. 

Start with a business plan template

To get started on your business plan, save yourself some time and use a template.

Most business plan templates will include things like a cover page, table of contents and the main sections you need. It will also have pre-formatted pages with placeholder text and charts that you can swap out. 

Green Simple Business Plan Template

It takes time to do market research, present growth plans, put together financial projections, analyze your customer base, create competitor breakdowns…the list goes on.

The last thing you want to do is spend precious time formatting the resulting document. 

Save time by building your business plan from an existing business plan template, and customize it with your own content.

With a clean, consistent structure and clear headings, this template is the perfect starting point:

business plan template

Then you’re free to customize the template with helpful visual elements like charts, tables, and diagrams, that will make your pitch deck impossible to resist.

A Venngage business plan template is designed to help you communicate visually  and explain complex ideas easily. The right business plan template for you depends on the length and detail of your business plan, your brand and style, and the different sections you want to cover.

If your small business doesn’t have a dedicated design team, but you still need to learn how to write a business plan to present to investors–build off of a pre-designed business plan template:

Simple Business Plan TemplateSimple Business Plan Template

There are just a handful of our business plan templates that can be customized in the Venngage editor. Browse more business plan templates,  choose one that’s best for you and start editing right away.

Structuring your startup business plan involves organizing it into sections such as executive summary, company description, market analysis, product/service offering, marketing and sales strategy, financial projections, and operational plan.

Here are some business plan template examples:

startup business plan template

Short Business Plan Template

short business plan template

Number your pages and include a table of contents

A table of contents is crucial to help readers navigate your document and quickly find specific sections that are of interest to them.

It’s a good idea to include page numbers, main section headings, and section subheadings here for easy reference.

business plan template

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your business plan design feels clean and professional and doesn’t distract from your content. You want your information, not your formatting, to be the focus!

2. How to write your business plan 

Crafting a solid business plan is vital for the success of your venture. It serves as a roadmap that outlines your objectives, strategies, and financial projections. Here are three tips for writing your business plan to ensure it’s easy to read, appears professional and is memorable.

Use bulleted lists, bold text, and a clear type hierarchy for ‘skimmability’

Business plans need to be understandable at a glance to attract funding . Investors are looking for information that will help them understand your business quickly and without much effort.

Take a look at this snippet of the business plan template from above:

business plan

What stands out to you?

To me, the large green headers pop out first, making it easy to scan through the sections to find what I want to focus on.

This is because there’s a defined type hierarchy, giving more visual weight to the headers over the body text.

business plan

Next, the unique selling points of this business–superior quality products, unique glass carving and brass inlays, and excellent service–jump out. Because they’re presented in an indented list , they’re easier to see at a glance, which will likely make them more memorable.

Finally, I’m drawn to the bolded stats–“top 30% of the industry” and “4 out of 5 households spent money on renovation”.

Key statistics like these can go a long way towards convincing your investors that you’re worth their time and money. If you’re going to include them within larger paragraphs, make sure they stand out by increasing their font weight.

To sum up: make your report skimmable. Draw attention to important takeaways with indented lists, bolded text, and a clear type hierarchy.

Consider using a one-column or two-column grid

business plan

If your business plan contains only text, stick with a single-column layout that reinforces the linear flow of the document. If your business plan includes some supporting data in the form of charts and tables, use a two-column layout to juxtapose text with its corresponding data.

Maintain page margins that set text at a readable line length

When we read long passages of text, the ease at which we read depends on how the text flows on the page. Something called line length (the number of characters in a horizontal line of text) plays a huge role in readability, and is something you should consider when formatting your business plan.

To dictate line length, designers and typesetters play with the width of page margins (the edges of a document that don’t contain any text or images) with the aim of maximizing readability.

It’s generally accepted that the ideal line length sits somewhere between 40 and 90 characters per line. Any longer or shorter and you’ll find that something feels “off” about your document.

business plan

How do you achieve this in your business plan?

If you use a single-column layout, use nice wide margins (1 ½ to 2 inches) to limit your text to less than 90 characters per line.

business plan template

With a two-column layout, you might need to use narrower margins (possibly as little as ½ an inch on either side) to make sure there’s enough space for at least 40 characters per line of text.

business plan template

The last thing to remember about margins and line length–don’t play around with them from page to page. Use consistent margins across your whole document.

3. How to design an executive summary

An executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan. It should be concise and hook your readers. It should reassure stakeholders that your business plan will be a worthwhile read.

How you choose to structure your executive summary is key. You can deliver a lot of excellent information that simply gets lost in a sea of text and paragraphs. Even if someone reads through it entirely, they may have missed something.

To make key information stand out, use vibrant headings, incorporate visuals throughout, and break up the layout of your text.

Executive Summary Business Plan Template

Not every investor looks for the same thing. Some will care more about who you or your executive team are, while another is interested solely in the financials of the business. Identifying each section makes it easy for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

You can also list out the key takeaways, briefly explaining them in the executive summary. If your reader finds everything they needed to know in the executive summary, they’ll happily move onto the rest of the business plan.

Executive Summary Blue Business Plan Template

4. Use one feature color to tie your business plan together

Color should be used with restraint in professional documents like business plans. Instead of adding color solely for aesthetic purposes, think of color selection as another tool to highlight information you want your reader to focus on and to tie the document together.

You shouldn’t need more than a single color (ideally one of your brand colors ) to achieve this in a business plan.

In business plan charts, color should be used only to clarify trends and relationships. Use color to emphasize single important data points, differentiate between real and projected values, or group related data:

business plan template

In the rest of your business plan, keep color to a minimum. At most, use it to make headers stand out or to highlight key points in long-form text, diagrams, or tables.

The nice thing about keeping document colors this simple? It’s hard to mess up, and without any complex design work, it creates a sense of cohesion and unity within a document.

4. How to use charts and graphs to present your data

Since your business plan should be backed by solid data, you might want to include some of that data as evidence, in the form of  charts, tables or diagrams . Even simple visuals can communicate better than long paragraphs of text.

I’ll touch on some specific types of charts commonly used in business plans next, but first let’s review a few general chart design tactics.

Use descriptive titles and annotations to spell out chart takeaways

Avoid generic headers whenever possible. Maximize your chart’s value and impact by providing takeaway messages right in the title.

business plan

In the same vein, add direct annotations to data points or trends that support your case.

business plan

Repeating key messages within a chart, in the title, annotations, and captions, may improve viewers understanding and recall of those messages .

Aid understanding of market size and market share with area charts and pie charts

A market potential analysis is a fundamental pillar of your business plan. Market size and market share are two major components of a market potential analysis.

These numbers are typically in the millions and billions (the bigger the better, really), but most people have trouble grasping the meaning of such big numbers . At a surface level we can understand that one billion is one thousand times larger than one million, but we often struggle to comprehend what that really means.

This is the perfect opportunity to add some visual aids to your business plan.

Use bubble charts to represent market size

Bubble charts are useful for showing general proportions among numbers. Check out this one from our redesigned version of AirBnb’s first pitch deck :

business plan

Without having to think about the absolute values of these very large numbers, we can quickly see how they relate to one another.

While bubble charts are good for making quick, general comparisons, they’re less useful when it comes to precise measurements. To help readers make slightly more accurate judgements of proportion:

Use pie or donut charts to represent market share and market composition

Pie and donut charts are the industry standard for showing market share and market composition, since they’re the most widely understood method for representing part-to-whole relationships.

The way Uber breaks down their market with a simple donut chart makes their biggest segment (a key takeaway) really stand out, while the subtler differences between the smaller segments are still evident.

business plan

When you present a market analysis, use pie charts, donut charts, or bubble charts to aid the reader understanding proportions and part-to-whole relationships.

Use histograms and bar charts to represent demographic distributions in market segmentation summaries

Another part of analyzing market potential is about identifying and understanding target customers. This means segmenting customers by geography, interests, demographics…really anything that might affect purchasing behaviour.

Two standard metrics that most businesses include in a market segmentation summary are customer age and gender. These data are easily summarized in a histogram, with bars that represent age group distribution.

business plan template

Bar charts can then be used to contrast the key behaviors and lifestyle choices of the top consumer segments.

business plan template

Histograms and bar charts are standard features of a market segmentation summary. Use them together to identify and present information about top customer segments.

Outline major milestones with a Gantt chart

Stakeholders will want to see that you have a concrete plan in place to help you reach your revenue goals. When formulating your goals, use the SMART principle to provide your stakeholders with a very clear vision of how you intend to achieve them. 

Use a Gantt chart (a sort of modified bar chart) to outline the major milestones and phases of your business strategy. Try to include a multi-year plan, broken down by quarter and by project or department.

business plan

You can create your own Gantt chart with Venngage.

5. How to communicate growth strategies in your business plan

No matter how impressive your product line or services, your business won’t just magically grow. You concrete marketing and sales plans in place, and effectively communicate strategies to your stakeholders.

Start by acknowledging your target market – who are you going after? This is what your marketing and sales efforts will revolve around after all.

Demonstrate an understanding of the competitor landscape. You will always have direct or indirect competition, and showing how your planning accounts for it is key. Then you can talk about actual plans and strategies you wish to implement.

Present your target audience with persona guides

A product may great on its own. But its value is determined when there is a clear and obvious market for it. You can point out shortcomings of your competition, but you also need to show that your target audience exists and how you’re serving them.

A persona guide provides a great deal of context to readers of your business plan. It’s the best way for them to understand who cares about your product or service, how it aligns with their lifestyle and needs, and why your marketing and sales tactics will work.

Business Plan Persona Guide Template

A persona guide needs to be detailed, and share an intimate understanding of your target audience. The more you can divulge, the more reassuring your research and overall business plan will be.

Business Plan Detailed Persona Guide Template

Even if you don’t have a substantial customer base, you can still create an ideal persona guide to show who you’re pursuing.

Business Plan Ideal Persona Guide Template

Highlight competitors and differentiate yourself with a SWOT analysis

Every business plan should include an analysis of the competitive landscape–an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of competitive businesses.

In terms of visuals, this competitive analysis is typically summarized in a SWOT analysis matrix .

Business Plan SWOT Analysis Template

You can also present the SWOT analysis as a table or a list. The layout is up to you, but you want to focus on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to your competition.

Business Plan SWOT analysis Table Template

While the SWOT analysis framework provides valuable insights, it’s not the entire reflection of your competitive landscape. For example, it doesn’t make it easy to see at a glance the qualities that differentiate your business from your competitors.

To highlight those offerings that set you apart from your competitors, a comparison matrix is more effective. Take a look at these two templates:

Business Plan Competitor Comparison Template

With a direct competitor comparison, it’s easy to present the key differentiators between the existing options for a product or service, and your business.

Alternatively, a “ Magic Quadrant ” can be useful when you’re focused on comparing across two main metrics ( key differentiators ):

business plan

Finally, in a competitive market, there are going to be a lot of players who compete directly or indirectly with you.  A breakdown of them all may not be necessary. Instead, you can point visually to the space that you will address, that has been so far ignored up to now.

To do that, a prioritization chart can be used. By plotting competing businesses on a prioritization chart, you highlight experiences existing competitors focus on, and where your business falls. 

business plan

Use roadmaps to present your marketing and sales plans

To explain any long-term marketing or sales plan, you want visuals. It’s easier to break down strategies you’ll be deploying every month or each quarter, when you can actually show what you’re talking about.

Keep in mind, those reading your business plan may not be marketers or sales executives. Being able to lay out your approach in a way that’s organized, shows how much thought you’ve given to your growth strategies.

You can design a simple roadmap that points to what you’ll be doing throughout the year. The more detailed you can get, the better.

Business Plan Marketing roadmap Template

You can also present your product roadmap , with your marketing roadmap how the business will be growing overall.

Business Plan Product Roadmap Template

You don’t need to use a traditional roadmap layout, either. Experiment with different formats as you may find one easier to work with than another. As long as the time period for different strategies is clear, your roadmap will be easy to understand.

Business Plan Marketing Roadmap Template

6. How to present financial data in your business plan

Presenting financial data isn’t easy. You have to crunch a lot of numbers before you can share projections with confidence. You’ll also need to explain how you arrived at the numbers and prepare for your answers.

Understanding how to organize your information is key to walking potential investors and other stakeholders through your projections.

Use organizational flow charts and summary tables for budget breakdowns and financial summaries

The financials section of your business plan will get a lot of attention from stakeholders. Simple bar charts and pie charts won’t suffice, as they can’t present financial data in very much detail.

If your business has already been operating for some time, stakeholders will expect a detailed report of revenues and expenses. Tables are usually the best choice for this kind of financial summary, as they provide an unbiased view of the numbers and allow stakeholders to look up specific values.

business plan templates

If you’re interested in highlighting a particular trend, however, you may want to include a line chart featuring a smaller snapshot of your financial data:

business plan templates

If you’re just starting your business and you don’t have any detailed revenue data, you can still provide useful information about your budget. Outline higher-level budget allocation with an organizational flow chart .

business plan

Use line or bar graphs to visualize financial trends

You can use different types of graphs to also show how your business has performed thus far. 

You can share results over the course of a year with a line graph. This is effective to show an overall set of trends and growth rates. 

Business Plan Sales Chart Template

You can also compare previous years to highlight how your business has grown.

Your audience should be able to draw conclusions from your data within seconds. If there is simply too much information, or it’s hard to find important information, they will lose interest. 

Business Plan Revenue Projection Template

Looking for a business plan software to help save time and reduce errors? Pick from one of these 7 best business plan software to get started.

A quick summary 

A business plan is the one key document that every young business needs to present their vision to potential investors and other stakeholders.

The quality of a business plan can make or break a young business Here’s a quick recap of what we covered for you to keep in mind:

  • Get started with a template
  • Use a table of contents and numbered pages
  • Use lists, bold headings and aim for skimmability
  • Consider using a one-column or two-column
  • Maintain page margins
  • Use headings to identify the most important information
  • Use one thematic color palette for your design
  • Use descriptive titles and annotations
  • Use area and pie charts to explain market size and market share
  • Use pie/donut charts to visualize marketing share and market composition
  • Use bar charts and histograms to capture demographics data
  • Highlight major milestones with a gantt chart
  • Identify your target audience using persona guides
  • Differentiate yourself with a SWOT analysis/competitor chart
  • Use roadmaps to visualize your marketing and sales plans
  • Use flow charts and summary tables for financial breakdowns
  • Use line or bar graphs for financial trends and projection

You can always reference this post as you work on your business plan. I’ve also included additional blog posts you can reference for specific areas of your business plan.

More Resources for business planning and growth:

Growth Strategy Checklist: Plan Your Business Goals With These 5 Templates

Growth Strategy Checklist Template Blog Post Header

What is a Marketing Plan and How to Make One?

marketing plan header

How to Communicate Strategy Effectively Using Visuals [Templates]

communicating strategy header

30+ Business Report Templates That Every Business Needs [+ Design Tips]

30+ Business Report Templates That Every Business Needs

Tool graphics

0 results have been found for “”

 Return to blog home

How to Easily Write a Business Plan in 30-Minutes

Posted november 2, 2022 by noah parsons.

Learn how to write a business plan in under an hour with lean planning.

Writing a business plan can be intimidating. You know that you need to put a plan together to start a successful business, but you find yourself staring at a blank Word or Google doc wondering what to do next.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re willing to give up your preconceptions that a plan has to be a lengthy document that you spend a lot of time and energy on once and then file away—you’ll discover that there are better (and faster) ways to plan.

Introducing the 30-minute plan

A traditional business plan can take hours, days, or even weeks to put together. 

We recommend a simpler process that you can complete in under an hour. Sounds too good to be true? We successfully used this process ourselves to build LivePlan , and it’s a major reason why LivePlan is so successful. With a one-page business plan, we were able to quickly figure out our strategic goals and what it would take to grow the business. 

You can do this, even if you’ve never written a business plan before. The key is to focus on creating a business plan that fits on one page. By focusing on a single page, you skip all the formatting, complete sentences, and paragraphs of text that most people skip anyways. Instead, you’ll prioritize outlining your actual business strategy, the business model you’ll use to make money, and the marketing and sales strategies you’ll use to grow.

How to write a business plan in just 11 steps

When putting together your one-page business plan , think in bullet points and short sentences. The goal is to keep each section as short as possible. Here is what you need to include, along with an example of a bike shop business plan I put together in just 27 minutes.

1. Value proposition

This section answers the question, “What does your business do?” Your goal is to communicate the value you are providing to your customers in a way that is as simple and direct as possible. Think of it like this—if you’re at a party and someone asks you what your business does, can you describe it in a single sentence? 

Struggling to define your value? Check out this simple formula to create your unique value proposition .

simple business plan making

2. Market need

What’s the problem you solve for your customers? Why would they go out shopping for a solution? Why does your business need to exist? Why would they choose you over other alternatives? 

If you’re not sure, try talking to your potential customers and ask them what they might like about your products or services. 

For your one-page business plan, one or two short sentences will do here. Keep things short and direct.

3. Your solution

Describe your product or service and why it’s better than the alternatives. Essentially, if someone asked you what you sell, what would your answer be? Your solution should be the answer to the market need that you described in the previous section that delivers the value you described in your value proposition.

simple business plan making

4. Target market

Describe your ideal customer . Who are they? Be as specific as possible—age, gender, shopping habits, and so on. If you target different types of people, create market segments for each group. If you are targeting different market segments, list each segment and its approximate size. 

For example, if you are targeting “young families” in addition to “older parents”, try and figure out how many people are in each group. For your initial plan, you don’t need to get too specific – you can always add more detail later as flesh out your plan.

Build a business that you're proud of. Get Started Now with LivePlan

5. Competition

Every business has competition . Who do your customers buy from if they aren’t going to buy from you? What makes your business and products better than the alternatives that are out there?

simple business plan making

6. Funding needs

Nearly every business needs some money to get off the ground. Think about how much money you’ll need and how you plan on using it. Even if you’re starting your business with your own savings or using credit card debt, it’s a good idea to plan on how you will use the funds until you start making sales.

simple business plan making

7. Sales channels

These are the places where you will sell your products. If you’re selling online, your online store is a sales channel. If you also have a physical store, that’s another sales channel.

8. Marketing activities

What will you do to market your business ? If you plan on buying advertising, list the types of advertising you plan on doing here. Remember, different target markets might need different types of marketing activities to get your product in front of them.

simple business plan making

9. Budget and sales goals

How much is it going to cost to run your business? What sales goals do you need to reach for your business to be a success? Don’t sweat the details to start and just think in broad strokes to get a rough idea of how your business will work financially . 

You can start by just listing your primary revenue streams and your major expenses. As you learn more about the details, you can start to add estimates for how much sales you’ll bring in and what your actual expenses will be. Eventually, you’ll expand these broad estimates into a more detailed forecast, but initially just stick to high-level estimates.

simple business plan making

10. Milestones

What are the major tasks you need to accomplish to get your business up and running? This will help you stay on track and meet your goals. For most businesses, you should focus on the near term and highlight what you want to accomplish in the next few months. 

Shorter-term milestones might include signing a lease on an office or designing your first prototype. Other businesses may have very long research and development cycles and should map out key milestones for the next 12-24 months. These businesses might have milestones related to getting regulatory approval or entering clinical trials.  

Regardless of the timeframe of your milestones, make sure to assign milestones to people on your team so you have real responsibility and accountability.

simple business plan making

Even if you’re starting out with just yourself as the only employee of your business, write a few quick bullets about why you’re the right person to run this business. If you need to hire key people in the future, list those positions as well, even if you don’t know who specifically will fill those positions right now.

simple business plan making

This one-page plan looks pretty good—one of its strong points is that it’s built to help you visualize your plan and easily share it with others. While I used LivePlan to put this plan together, you can start by downloading this free Word doc template. 

Need additional guidance? Check out this article for more detailed instructions to successfully build your one-page plan .

What to do after completing your simple business plan

Now that you’ve saved all that time writing your business plan, what should you do next? 

With an initial plan in place, you’re primed to use a process known as growth planning that helps both startups and existing businesses grow more quickly and nimbly than their competitors. 

Here are the initial steps you can take to put your new plan into action and start growth planning:

Test your idea and revise your plan

It’s rare to get a business idea right the first time. Almost every business makes changes to their initial idea to become a successful, growing company. That’s why it’s important to test your idea early and make adjustments before you sink too much money into your business. 

There are plenty of ideas in the article linked above, but the core concept of validating your business idea is to go out and talk to potential customers and gather feedback. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a tech company or a cookie business. Get your app design or your cookie samples into potential customers’ hands and hear what they have to say.

Once you have feedback, revise your plan. Your marketing or sales strategy might change, or perhaps you decide to change your overall value proposition. Either way, revise your plan and test again until you have a business model that works.

Expand into a more detailed business plan

The one-page plan is simple and effective, but there may be a time when you need to expand your plan and create a more detailed business plan . Lenders and investors may want to see a more detailed business plan if only to prove that you’ve taken time to think through all the details of getting your business up and running. 

Or, maybe you just want to add more details to your plan, and expanding beyond the single page makes sense for you. This may be more robust market research, expanded financial forecasts, or other details that make your plan more useful.

Luckily, by starting with a simple business plan format, you can easily expand on the necessary sections without having to start over. And, the real value in detailed planning is the process that you go through to create the plan. 

You’ll be forced to answer questions about your business that you might have been tempted to gloss over or ignore completely if you skip the planning process. If a detailed business plan sounds like it will be a useful tool for you, check out this detailed step-by-step guide , as well as a free template you can download .

Review and revise

Revising your initial business plan isn’t just for new businesses that are just figuring out their path to success. Businesses that are up and running also benefit from regularly going back and revising their plan as things change. Your sales goals might need to be adjusted or you might need to adjust your expense budget. Perhaps you’ll decide to sell to a different kind of customer. Your one-page plan is a great place to document those changes and will help you track your progress toward your goals .

When you update your plan, you’re setting new goals to strive for. You’re also ensuring that your business strategy is documented and ready to share with new business partners, investors, and employees. I’ve found that sharing my company’s plan with employees improves transparency and gives everyone the big picture of what we’re trying to do. It ensures that everyone is moving the company in the same direction.

Download our one-page business plan template

Your simple one-page business plan is your guide to building the business you want and your key to finding success. And, thankfully, it’s so much easier and faster than traditional business planning. 

If you want to get started on your plan right away, you can download our free one-page plan template . With that, you will be well on your way to a better business strategy, without all the time and hassle of drafting a lengthy business plan.

If you want to elevate your ability to build a healthy, growing business, you may want to explore the growth planning process and learn how it can help you build a sustainable, profitable business. You should also consider LivePlan.

It’s a product that makes growth planning easy and features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results.

Like this post? Share with a friend!

Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

Posted in business plan writing, join over 1 million entrepreneurs who found success with liveplan, like this content sign up to receive more.

Subscribe for tips and guidance to help you grow a better, smarter business.

You're all set!

Exciting business insights and growth strategies will be coming your way each month.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

Guide to Creating a Business Plan With Template

Table of contents.

simple business plan making

Having a road map helps you reach your journey’s end successfully. Business plans do the same for small businesses. They lay out the milestones you need to reach to build a profitable small business. They are also essential for identifying and overcoming obstacles along the way. Each part of a business plan helps you reach your goals, including the financial aspects, marketing, operations and sales.

Plenty of online business plan templates are available to take some of the pain out of the plan-writing process. You may benefit from simple, easy-to-follow business plan tools so you spend less time writing and more time launching your venture.

What is a business plan?

With most great business ideas , the best way to execute them is to have a plan. A business plan is a written outline that you present to others, such as investors, whom you want to recruit into your venture. It’s your pitch to your investors, sharing with them what the goals of your startup are and how you expect to be profitable. 

It also serves as your company’s road map, keeping your business on track and ensuring your operations grow and evolve to meet the goals outlined in your plan. As circumstances change, a business plan can serve as a living document but it should always include the core goals of your business.

Starting a new business comes with challenges. Being prepared for those challenges can decrease their impact on your business greatly. One important step in preparing for the challenges your startup may face is writing a solid business plan.

Writing a business plan helps you understand more clearly what you need to do to reach your goals. The finished business plan also serves as a reminder to you of these goals. It’s a valuable tool that you can refer back to, helping you stay focused and on track.

What is the purpose of a business plan? 

Before you write your business plan, it’s important to understand the purpose of creating it in the first place. These are the three main reasons you should have a business plan:

  • Establish a business focus: The primary purpose of a business plan is to establish your plans for the future. These plans should include goals or milestones alongside detailed steps of how your company will reach each step. The process of creating a road map to your goals will help you determine your business focus and pursue growth.
  • Secure funding: One of the first things private investors , banks or other lenders look for before investing in your business is a well-researched business plan. Investors want to know how you operate your business, what your revenue and expense projections are and, most importantly, how they will receive a return on their investment. 
  • Attract executives:  As your business grows, you’ll likely need to add executives to your team. A business plan helps you attract executive talent and determine whether or not they are a good fit for your company.  

There is no one-size-fits-all for securing a loan for your business. Check out our recommendations for the best business loan options .

Your business plan can be written as a document or designed as a slideshow, such as a PowerPoint presentation. It may be beneficial to create both versions. For example, the PowerPoint can be used to pull people in, and the document version that contains more detail can be given to viewers as a follow-up.

What are the types of business plans?

There are two main types of business plans: lean startup and traditional. Traditional business plans are long, detailed plans that expound on both short-term and long-term objectives. In comparison, a lean startup business plan focuses on a high-level summary with a few key metrics in concise detail to quickly share data with investors.

Lean startup business plan

Business model expert Ash Maurya has developed a basic type of business plan called a lean canvas. The model, which was developed in 2010, is still one of the most popular types of business plans emulated today.

A lean canvas comprises nine sections, with each part of the plan containing high-value information and metrics to attract investors. This lean business plan often consists of a single page of information with the following listed:

  • Key metrics
  • Unique proposition
  • Unfair advantage
  • Customer segments
  • Cost structures
  • Revenue streams

Traditional business plan 

Traditional plans are lengthy documents, sometimes as long as 30 or 40 pages. A traditional business plan acts as a blueprint of a new business, detailing its progress from the time it launches to several years in the future when the startup is an established business. The following areas are covered in a traditional business plan:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Management team
  • Financial plan
  • Operational plan

What is included in a business plan?

1. executive summary .

The executive summary is the most important section of your business plan because it needs to draw your readers into your plan and entice them to continue reading. If your executive summary doesn’t capture the reader’s attention, they won’t read further and their interest in your business won’t be piqued.

Even though the executive summary is the first section of your business plan, you should write it last. When you are ready to write this section, we recommend that you summarize the problem (or market need) you aim to solve, your solution for consumers, an overview of the founders and/or owners and key financial details. Knowing the alternate solutions that currently exist for the problem/market need will highlight to a potential investor how well you know the market. The key to this section is to be brief yet engaging.

2. Company description 

This section is an overview of your entire business. Make sure you include basic information, such as when your company was founded, the type of business entity it is ― limited liability company, sole proprietorship, partnership , C corporation or S corporation ― and the state in which it is registered. If you plan to do business in a state other than the one you have registered in, be sure to highlight which states. Provide a summary of your company’s history to give the readers a solid understanding of its foundation. Learn more about articles of incorporation and what you need to know to start a business.

3. Products and services 

Next, describe the products and/or services your business provides. Focus on your customers’ perspective ― and needs ― by demonstrating the problem you are trying to solve by providing this product or service. The goal of this section is to prove that your business fills a bona fide market need and will remain viable for the foreseeable future.

4. Market analysis 

In this section, clearly define who your target audience is, where you will find customers, how you will reach them and, most importantly, how you will deliver your product or service to them. Provide a deep analysis of your ideal customer and how your business provides a solution for them. 

You should also include your competitors in this section and illustrate how your business is uniquely different from the established companies in the industry or market. What are their strengths and weaknesses and how will you differentiate yourself from the pack?

Follow this step-by-step guide on how to conduct a competitor analysis and what details it should include.

You will also need to write a marketing plan based on the context of your business. For example, if you’re a small local business, you’ll want to analyze your competitors who are located nearby. Franchises need to conduct a large-scale analysis, potentially on a national level. Competitor data helps you know the current trends in your target industry and the growth potential. These details also prove to investors that you’re very familiar with the industry.

For this section, the listed target market paints a picture of what your ideal customer looks like. Data to include may be the age range, gender, income levels, location, marital status and geographical regions of target consumers.

A SWOT analysis is a common tool entrepreneurs use to bring all collected data together in a market analysis. “SWOT” stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.” Strengths and weaknesses analyze the advantages and disadvantages unique to your company, while opportunities and threats analyze the current market risks and rewards.

5. Management team 

Before anyone invests in your business, they’ll want a complete understanding of the potential investment. This section should illustrate how your business is organized. It should list key members of the management team, the founders/owners, board members, advisors and more.

As you list each individual, provide a summary of their experience and their role within your company. Treat this section as a series of mini resumes and consider adding full-length resumes to the appendix of your business plan.

6. Financial plan 

The financial plan should include a detailed overview of your finances. At the very least, you should include cash flow statements and profit and loss projections over the next three to five years. You can also include historical financial data from the past few years, your sales forecast and balance sheet. Consider these items to include:

  • Income statement: Investors want detailed information to confirm the viability of your business idea. Expect to provide an income statement for the business plan that includes a complete snapshot of your business. The income statement will list revenue, expenses and profits. Income statements are generated monthly for startups and quarterly for established businesses.
  • Cash flow projection: Another element of your financial plan is your projection for cash flow. In this section, you estimate the expected amount of money coming in and going out of your business. There are two benefits to including a cash flow projection. The first is that this forecast demonstrates whether your business is a high-risk or low-risk venture. The second benefit of doing a cash flow projection is that it shows you whether you would benefit most from short-term or long-term financing.
  • Analysis of break-even point: Your financial plan should include a break-even analysis. The break-even point is the point at which your company’s sales totals cover all of its expenses. Investors want to see your revenue requirements to assess whether your business is capable of reaching the financial milestones you’ve laid out in your business plan.

Make sure this section is precise and accurate. It’s often best to create this section with a professional accountant. If you’re seeking outside funding for your business , highlight why you’re seeking financing, how you will use that money and when investors can expect a return on investment .

Are you struggling for cash flow? Here are eight cash flow strategies for survival.

If you want to master your financial plan, Jennifer Spaziano, vice president of business development at ACCION, offers these helpful tips:

  • Follow generally accepted accounting principles : As a rule, the financial part of your plan should follow the accounting principles set by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, especially if you’re creating the plan to obtain a loan or a line of credit.
  • Get fluent in spreadsheets: Spreadsheets are the best and most accepted way to present financial information.
  • Seek outside assistance: Obtaining advice from your financial planner or accountant can help you put the numbers together and present them properly. If you use an accountant and your financial statements have been audited, state that in the plan.
  • Look up templates: If you want to attempt writing the financial section on your own, there are resources. 

7. Operational plan

The operational plan section details the physical needs of your business. This section discusses the location of the business , as well as required equipment or critical facilities needed to make your products. Some companies ― depending on their business type ― may also need to detail their inventory needs, including information about suppliers. For manufacturing companies, all processing details are spelled out in the operational plan section.

For startups, you want to divide the operational plan into two distinct phases: the developmental plan and the production plan: 

  • Developmental plan: The developmental plan details each step in the process of bringing your product or service to market. You want to outline the risks and the protocols you’re taking to demonstrate to investors that you’ve examined all potential liabilities and that your business is well-positioned for success. For instance, if workers (or your products) are exposed to toxic materials during the production process, in your developmental plan, you want to list the safety measures you will follow to minimize the risk of illness and injury to workers and consumers and how you plan to minimize any potential culpability to your business.
  • Production plan: The production plan includes the day-to-day operation information, such as your business hours, the work site(s), company assets, equipment pieces, raw materials and any special requirements.

8. Appendices

The appendices will contain all the extra information that is not immediately necessary to the business plan but helpful to have. Resumes of the management team usually are provided here as well as long-term financial projections. This section can be as long or short as you want it to be. Most business plans will have something in the appendix, which is referred to in the main section of the business plan.

What are the challenges of writing a business plan?

The challenges of writing a business plan vary. Do you have all the information about your business that you need? Does your industry have strict guidelines that you must adhere to? 

Writing a business plan will prompt you to evolve your business idea into a blueprint that you can follow. Challenges will come if you have not fully considered all the aspects of a business idea, such as the location to sell your product or the marketing you will do to help bring in business. Writing a good business plan will have you thinking about the “what if” to your business and allow you to come up with strong answers to address those questions.

However, certain challenges may prove more difficult to answer than others. If you aren’t familiar with certain terminologies or have trouble using spreadsheet processing software, you might have difficulty answering cash flow or financial projections. Especially if you have a new product or service to address a problem in the market, you might have no clear road map on how to market this new product which has never been thought of before.

To help you prepare, we identified 10 of the most common issues you may face:

  • Getting started
  • Identifying cash flow and financial projections
  • Knowing your target market
  • Being concise
  • Making it interesting
  • Establishing workable goals
  • Being realistic about business growth
  • Proving that your idea is worth the risk
  • Finding the right amount of flexibility
  • Creating a strategy that you can implement

Crafting a business plan around these 10 challenges can prepare your business ― and anyone who joins it ― for a prosperous future.

How do you overcome the challenges of writing a business plan?

Although you won’t predict everything for your business accurately, you can take preemptive steps to reduce the number of complications that may arise. For example, familiarize yourself with the business plan process by researching business plans and identifying how others executed their plans successfully.

You can use these plans as a basis. However, Rick Cottrell, CEO of Tesseon, recommends taking it one step further: Talk to small business owners and others who have experience.

“The business owner should talk to an accountant, banker and those who deal with these plans on a daily basis and learn how others have done it,” Cottrell said. “They can join startup and investment groups and speak to peers and others who are getting ready to launch a business and gain insights from them. They can seek out capital innovation clubs in their area and get additional expertise.”

If you research how to write a business plan and still don’t feel comfortable writing one, you can always hire a consultant to help you with the process. Guidance is crucial when you don’t know what you don’t know. There are freelancers who will write business plans for you for a small fee which can be a good stepping stone to something more concrete.

“It is simply a time-consuming process that cannot be rushed,” Cottrell added. “Millions of dollars can be at stake and, in many cases, requires a high level of expertise that either needs to be learned or executed in conjunction with an experienced business consultant.” 

Should I use free or paid business plan templates?

You have the option of choosing between free and paid business templates. Both come with their own benefits and limitations, so the best one for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. Evaluating the pros and cons of each can help you decide.

Free templates

The biggest advantage of using a free template is the cost savings it offers to your business. Startups are often strapped for cash, making it a desirable choice for new business owners to access a free template. Although it’s nice to use templates at no cost, there are some drawbacks to free business plan templates ― the biggest one being limited customizability.

“The process of writing a business plan lets you personally find the kinks in your business and work them out,” Attiyya Atkins, founder of A+ Editing, told Business News Daily. “Starting with an online template is a good start, but it needs to be reviewed and targeted to your market. 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 LogoDesign.net, agreed that free templates offer limited customization, such as the company name and some text. She added that they are often used by a ton of people, so if you use one to secure funds, investors might be tired of seeing that business plan format.

Paid templates

The benefit of paying for business plan templates ― or paying for an expert to review your business plan ― is the accuracy of information and high 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?” Jean said. “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.”

On the contrary, the limitation to using a paid template is the cost. If your startup doesn’t have the funds to pay for a business plan template, it may not be a feasible option.

What is the best business plan software?

If you decide to invest in your business plan, there are several great software programs available. Software takes the legwork out of writing a business plan by simplifying the process and eliminating the need to start from scratch. They often include features like step-by-step wizards, templates, financial projection tools, charts and graphs, third-party application integrations, collaboration tools and video tutorials.

After researching and evaluating dozens of business plan software providers, we narrowed down these four of the best options available:

LivePlan is a cloud-hosted software application that provides many tools to create your business plan, including more than 500 templates, a one-page pitch builder, automatic financial statements, full financial forecasting , industry benchmark data and key performance indicators . Monthly plans start at $10 per month.

Bizplan is cloud-hosted software that features a step-by-step builder to walk you through each section of the business plan. Monthly plans start at $29 per month with annual plans starting at $20.75.

GoSmallBiz is a cloud-based service that offers industry-specific templates, a step-by-step wizard that makes creating a detailed business plan easy and video tutorials. Monthly plans start at $409 per month.

Enloop focuses on financial projections. It provides you with everything you need to demonstrate how financially viable your business can be and walks you through the process of generating financial forecasts. Annual plans start at $11 per month.

Free downloadable business plan template

Business News Daily put together a simple but high-value business plan template to help you create a business plan. The template is completely customizable and can be used to attract investors, secure board members and narrow the scope of your company.

Business plans can be overwhelming to new entrepreneurs, but our template makes it easy to provide all of the details required by financial institutions and private investors. The template has eight main sections, with subsections for each topic. For easy navigation, a table of contents is provided with the template. As you customize each section, you’ll receive tips on how to correctly write the required details.

Here is our free business plan template that you can use to craft a professional business plan quickly and easily.

Planning for your business is the first step of the journey

A business plan is a blueprint for your business idea, which means you will need to add the details to your business plan until you believe it is ready to be acted upon. You may not have all the details to start, but it is important to have enough confidence in starting your business and having a guide to follow as others get involved in your business when you are growing.

Thinking about what problem your business solves, who your suppliers are and what color schemes may be fixed or adjusted over time, but it is important to not only consider those at the beginning but throughout the time you are following your business plan. Once you have your plan in place, you can act on it knowing that you and others can follow that plan. The hardest thing is starting a business plan so start today.

Tejas Vemparala and Sean Peek also contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

thumbnail

Building Better Businesses

Insights on business strategy and culture, right to your inbox. Part of the business.com network.

simple business plan making

  • Case Studies
  • Flexible Products

simple business plan making

  • Expert Insights
  • Research Studies

simple business plan making

  • Creativity and Culture
  • Management and Leadership
  • Business Solutions

simple business plan making

  • Member Spotlight
  • Employee Spotlight

How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

When written effectively, a business plan can help raise capital, inform decisions, and draw new talent.

WeWork 511 West 25th St in New York.

Companies of all sizes have one thing in common: They all began as small businesses.  Starting small  is the corner for those just getting off the ground. Learn about how to make that first hire, deal with all things administrative, and set yourself up for success.

Writing a business plan is often the first step in transforming your business from an idea into something tangible . As you write, your thoughts begin to solidify into strategy, and a path forward starts to emerge. But a business plan is not only the realm of startups; established companies can also benefit from revisiting and rewriting theirs. In any case, the formal documentation can provide the clarity needed to motivate staff , woo investors, or inform future decisions.  

No matter your industry or the size of your team, the task of writing a business plan—a document filled with so much detail and documentation—can feel daunting. Don’t let that stop you, however; there are easy steps to getting started. 

What is a business plan and why does it matter? 

A business plan is a formal document outlining the goals, direction, finances, team, and future planning of your business. It can be geared toward investors, in a bid to raise capital, or used as an internal document to align teams and provide direction. It typically includes extensive market research, competitor analysis, financial documentation, and an overview of your business and marketing strategy. When written effectively, a business plan can help prescribe action and keep business owners on track to meeting business goals. 

Who needs a business plan?

A business plan can be particularly helpful during a company’s initial growth and serve as a guiding force amid the uncertainty, distractions, and at-times rapid developments involved in starting a business . For enterprise companies, a business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides decision-making and facilitates intentional growth.

“You should have a game plan for every major commitment you’ll have, from early-stage founder agreements to onboarding legal professionals,” says Colin Keogh, CEO of the Rapid Foundation—a company that brings technology and training to communities in need—and a WeWork Labs mentor in the UK . “You can’t go out on funding rounds or take part in accelerators without any planning.”

How to make a business plan and seven components every plan needs

While there is no set format for writing a business plan, there are several elements that are typically included. Here’s what’s important to consider when writing your business plan. 

1. Executive summary 

No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to attract capital? If so, specify how much money you hope to raise, and how you’re going to repay the loan. If you’re writing the plan to align your team and provide direction, explain at a high level what you hope to achieve with this alignment, as well as the size and state of your existing team.

The executive summary should explain what your business does, and provide an introductory overview of your financial health and major achievements to date.  

2. Company description 

To properly introduce your company, it’s important to also describe the wider industry. What is the financial worth of your market? Are there market trends that will affect the success of your company? What is the state of the industry and its future potential? Use data to support your claims and be sure to include the full gamut of information—both positive and negative—to provide investors and your employees a complete and accurate portrayal of your company’s milieu. 

Go on to describe your company and what it provides your customers. Are you a sole proprietor , LLC, partnership, or corporation? Are you an established company or a budding startup? What does your leadership team look like and how many employees do you have? This section should provide both historical and future context around your business, including its founding story, mission statement , and vision for the future. 

It’s essential to showcase your point of difference in your company description, as well as any advantages you may have in terms of expert talent or leading technology. This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written.

3. Market analysis and opportunity

Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider market is essential for the success of your business, and these considerations should be described here. 

In addition to this, it’s important to include research into the target demographic of your product or service. This might be in the form of fictional customer personas, or a broader overview of the income, location, age, gender, and buying habits of your existing and potential customers. 

Though the research should be objective, the analysis in this section is a good place to reiterate your point of difference and the ways you plan to capture the market and surpass your competition.

4. Competitive analysis 

Beyond explaining the elements that differentiate you from your competition, it’s important to provide an in-depth analysis of your competitors themselves.

This research should delve into the operations, financials, history, leadership, and distribution channels of your direct and indirect competitors. It should explore the value propositions of these competitors, and explain the ways you can compete with, or exploit, their strengths and weaknesses. 

5. Execution plan: operations, development, management 

This segment provides details around how you’re going to do the work necessary to fulfill this plan. It should include information about your organizational structure and the everyday operations of your team, contractors, and physical and digital assets.

Consider including your company’s organizational chart, as well as more in-depth information on the leadership team: Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What do they bring to the table? Potentially include the résumés of key people on your team. 

For startups, your execution plan should include how long it will take to begin operations, and then how much longer to reach profitability. For established companies, it’s a good idea to outline how long it will take to execute your plan, and the ways in which you will change existing operations.

If applicable, it’s also beneficial to include your strategy for hiring new team members and scaling into different markets. 

6. Marketing plan 

It’s essential to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place as you scale operations or kick off a new strategy—and this should be shared with your stakeholders and employees. This segment of your business plan should show how you’re going to promote your business, attract customers, and retain existing clients.

Include brand messaging, marketing assets, and the timeline and budget for engaging consumers across different channels. Potentially include a marketing SWOT analysis into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Evaluate the way your competitors market themselves, and how your target audience responds—or doesn’t respond—to these messages.

WeWork 222 Exhibition Street in Melbourne, Australia.

7. Financial history and projections  

It’s essential to disclose all finances involved in running your company within your business plan. This is so your shareholders properly understand how you’re projected to perform going forward, and the progress you’ve made so far. 

You should include your income statement, which outlines annual net profits or losses; a cash flow statement, which shows how much money you need to launch or scale operations; and a balance sheet that shows financial liabilities and assets. 

“An income statement is the measure of your financial results for a certain period and the most accurate report of business activities during that time, [whereas a balance sheet] presents your assets, liabilities, and equity,” Amit Perry, a corporate finance expert, explained at a WeWork Labs educational session in Israel.

It’s crucial to understand the terms correctly so you know how to present your finances when you’re speaking to investors. Amit Perry, CEO and founder of Perryllion Ltd.

In addition, if you’re asking for funding, you will need to outline exactly how much money you need as well as where this money will go and how you plan to pay it back. 

12 quick tips for writing a business plan 

Now that you know what components are traditionally included in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually construct the document.

Here are 12 key factors to keep in mind when writing a business plan. These overarching principles will help you write a business plan that serves its purpose (whatever that may be) and becomes an easy reference in the years ahead. 

1. Don’t be long-winded

Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon. When business plans are too long-winded, they’re less likely to be used as intended and more likely to be forgotten or glazed over by stakeholders. 

2. Show why you care

Let your passion for your business shine through; show employees and investors why you care (and why they should too). 

3. Provide supporting documents

Don’t be afraid to have an extensive list of appendices, including the CVs of team members, built-out customer personas, product demonstrations, and examples of internal or external messaging. 

4. Reference data

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative and relevant data points.  

5. Research, research, research

The research that goes into your business plan should take you longer than the writing itself. Consider tracking your research as supporting documentation. 

6. Clearly demonstrate your points of difference

At every opportunity, it’s important to drive home the way your product or service differentiates you from your competition and helps solve a problem for your target audience. Don’t shy away from reiterating these differentiating factors throughout the plan. 

7. Be objective in your research

As important as it is to showcase your company and the benefits you provide your customers, it’s also important to be objective in the data and research you reference. Showcase the good and the bad when it comes to market research and your financials; you want your shareholders to know you’ve thought through every possible contingency. 

8. Know the purpose of your plan

It’s important you understand the purpose of your plan before you begin researching and writing. Be clear about whether you’re writing this plan to attract investment, align teams, or provide direction. 

9. Identify your audience

The same way your business plan must have a clearly defined purpose, you must have a clearly defined audience. To whom are you writing? New investors? Current employees? Potential collaborators? Existing shareholders? 

Related articles

Outside shot of WeWork Collyer Quay

10. Avoid jargon

Avoid using industry-specific jargon, unless completely unavoidable, and try making your business plan as easy to understand as possible—for all potential stakeholders. 

11. Don’t be afraid to change it

Your business plan should evolve with your company’s growth, which means your business plan document should evolve as well. Revisit and rework your business plan as needed, and remember the most important factor: having a plan in place, even if it changes.

A business plan shouldn’t just be a line on your to-do list; it should be referenced and used as intended going forward. Keep your business plan close, and use it to inform decisions and guide your team in the years ahead. 

Creating a business plan is an important step in growing your company 

Whether you’re just starting out or running an existing operation, writing an effective business plan can be a key predictor of future success. It can be a foundational document from which you grow and thrive . It can serve as a constant reminder to employees and clients about what you stand for, and the direction in which you’re moving. Or, it can prove to investors that your business, team, and vision are worth their investment. 

No matter the size or stage of your business, WeWork can help you fulfill the objectives outlined in your business plan—and WeWork’s coworking spaces can be a hotbed for finding talent and investors, too. The benefits of coworking spaces include intentionally designed lounges, conference rooms, and private offices that foster connection and bolster creativity, while a global network of professionals allows you to expand your reach and meet new collaborators. 

Using these steps to write a business plan will put you in good stead to not only create a document that fulfills a purpose but one that also helps to more clearly understand your market, competition, point of difference, and plan for the future. 

For more tips on growing teams and building a business, check out all our articles on  Ideas by WeWork.

Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s  Ideas by WeWork , based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at  Mamamia  in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at  Gotham Gazette .

simple business plan making

Short-term leases can offer startups and established companies some much-needed flexibility

Deducting taxes from employee paychecks.

From federal taxes to 401(k)s, figuring out payroll deductions can be a headache. Here’s how to get started

simple business plan making

Does your company culture still reflect your goals and values? If not, it might be time for a change

Business growth

Business tips

Free business plan template—and how to write your own

A hero image of an orange document icon on a light yellow background.

I wrote my first business plan when I was six. I've learned a lot since then, and in hindsight, I can see why the investors around my family's Christmas table didn't take my space Marine cowboy ranch pitch seriously. I didn't put a lot of thought into what it would take to make the idea work, and I certainly didn't do the market research. Also, it was a space Marine cowboy ranch business.

My point is that thinking about the outcome before considering the many variables that pave the way is counterproductive. A business plan may not seem like the most critical or complicated document, but it can guide an entire organization, keeping success at the top of everyone's mind. It's the difference between a successful investor pitch and crying on Christmas.

To show you what I mean, I've put together a simple business plan template to get you started.

Table of contents:

What is a business plan?

What makes a business plan so important, key components of a business plan, types of business plans, making the business plan template your own, future-proofing your business plan, simple business plan template + example.

Mockup of the business plan template

This simple business plan template outlines key business objectives , strategies, and financial projections. Compiling this information into one document will not only prepare you for the realities of running a business but will also guide your team, business partners, and investors as they navigate the plan.

After some good old-fashioned data entry, you should have a polished business plan that's ready to share. Regardless of what stage your business is in, this template is flexible enough to accommodate your needs.

Here's a business plan example I put together using the template above, to give you an idea of what it might look like once it's complete.

A business plan is a document that clearly defines your company's goals, strategies, and operational details. It's essentially a roadmap for your team and investors. Think of it as boiling your entire business (concept, vision, dreams, and everything in between) down to one document. 

A formal business plan will include an overview of your products or services, marketing and sales strategies, targeted markets, financial details, and even a description of what you're building. 

Of course, business plans are unique snowflakes, so there's no one size fits all. Depending on what you're trying to do—attract investors, guide project expansion, align team members—your plan will look a little different. I'll dig into the different types of business plans in a bit.

In its simplest form, a business plan turns your concept into a reality. In more tangible terms, it also helps you achieve necessary business goals like securing funding. You'll have a hard time finding investors if you show up to a pitch meeting with only a winning smile and a can-do attitude—a strong business plan can show them a clear path to a return on their investment.

Investors and their judgmental silence aside, this document is critical for guiding internal decision-making, setting goals, and providing a clear direction for the business and its vision.

Before your business partners can understand your vision, you need to make sure you do. Before you start putting your business plan together, ask yourself whether your idea is feasible, whether it's different from what's already out there, if there are any competitors, and if they're doing something unique. Also consider your prices and customer base.

Illustration showing the core questions to ask when building a business plan, with three different phases of questions protruding from a central "buisness concept" box

You likely already know most of the answers to these questions. My Christmas pitch all those years ago could have gone differently if I'd put crayon to paper and answered these questions myself. My family couldn't follow my spur-of-the-moment speech, and neither will your team or investors—they need it spelled out as clearly as possible.

While no two business plans will look the same, there's a handful of key components virtually all good business plans have in common. So, if you haven't already looked through the template with the optimism that my six-year-old self lost that Christmas, here's what you can expect to find.

Title page: Impress readers with a unique presentation. This is your first opportunity to showcase your brand. 

Table of contents: No one likes being lost in a document. A TOC can help readers navigate the various sections and get an overview of what's inside.

Executive summary: Provide an overview of the business, summarizing its mission, goals, and key highlights.

Market analysis: Include your research and data on the target market. Make sure to outline industry trends, competition, and customer demographics.

Products/services: Detail your services or products. You'll want to expand on your unique selling points and customer benefits.

Marketing and sales strategy: Outline your plans for promoting your business. If you've already identified marketing and sales channels, include those, too.

Financial plan: Define all financial details, from required funding and business budget to projected income and profit.  

The organization: Showcase how your business will function on a structural level. Make sure to talk about your team's different positions and functions, and how it will all be managed.

Let's say you have a well-established construction manufacturing business. If you're looking to expand the business into a new location, you don't want to repurpose the same simple startup business plan. You'd want to build on it (pun intended) with an expansion business plan. 

Unlike your original business plan, which outlined your original milestones and goals, an expansion plan would include an analysis of your expansion and its development, purpose, feasibility, market, and reasoning. It would still outline your overarching goals for the business as a whole, but with additional information about the expansion and what that entails.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. For example, internal and strategic business plans serve an internal purpose. These are the types that are written for your team rather than your business partners. They're created to pin down the long-term game plan and keep team members aligned.

Not all businesses are in the same stage, so be sure to find a business plan that fits your current needs. A new startup's checklist is different from that of an expanding business, and so is its business plan. 

A business idea and a feasible business plan are two very different things. Follow these steps to solidify your ideas into a clear roadmap. 

1. Define your mission statement

A mission statement is a way for you to tell your company's story and communicate the vision you have for it. It should reflect your values, goals, and what you hope to achieve, setting the tone for your entire business plan. Ask yourself if your mission statement makes your business sound credible, feasible, and profitable. 

2. Outline a detailed company description

Don't be shy about the details. Provide your readers with a comprehensive overview of your company, its history, founders, legal structure, location, and the concept it's all built around. You might even include photos and illustrations for an extra flair.

3. Set your business goals

Set out your short- and long-term business goals. Be as specific as you can, and use the SMART technique , outlining goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Make sure these goals align with your mission statement.

4. Detail your services/products

Describe your services or products and lean heavily on their unique selling points. Discuss benefits, features, and the problems they solve for the target market you're aiming to reach. Include some visuals of your product or service to really drive the point home.

5. Analyze your target audience

Describe the market you're targeting and the audience demographics you've identified in your research. Understanding your future customers is essential for marketing and sales strategies. Put together ICPs to define your ideal customer base and create buyer personas to keep your team on track.

6. Set milestones for marketing and sales

Showcasing that you've identified your target audience isn't enough. You need to prove that you know how to speak to it and how to appeal to it while promoting your products and services. Some businesses set up milestones such as X amount of sales, Y number of acquired clients, or, in my case, the successful integration of Cowboy Ranch into the International Space Station.

7. Perform a financial analysis

Conduct a thorough financial analysis that includes details such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Outline your financial projections and your funding requirements. This section should prove how financially feasible your business concept is.

Once you have these points outlined and fleshed out, it's only a matter of representing each and every one of them in detail, ensuring that the voice and tone of your business plan reflect your brand and embody the unique concept you want to get across.

In summary: investors are not mind readers, and cowboys should stay on Earth. 

Your business plan is the sum of your ideas, passion, vision, and the lessons you learn as your business develops. Over the years, it will likely go through a few iterations and changes, but the plan you write today will guide you through the beginning stages. 

As your business plan grows out of its infancy, you can start looking into other useful tools like revenue growth plans to start preparing for the challenges ahead. And when those challenges come, Zapier can help growing businesses like yours tackle them with no-code automation that scales with you.

Related reading:

How to create effective document templates  

Business startup checklist: How to launch a startup step by step

7 free small business budget templates for future-proofing your finances

How to build a revenue growth plan that works

20 free proposal templates to ace your pitch

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your information.

Hachem Ramki picture

Hachem Ramki

Hachem is a writer and digital marketer from Montreal. After graduating with a degree in English, Hachem spent seven years traveling around the world before moving to Canada. When he's not writing, he enjoys Basketball, Dungeons and Dragons, and playing music for friends and family.

  • Sales & business development
  • Small business

Related articles

Hero image with an icon representing project proposals

How to write a business letter: Formatting guide + template

How to write a business letter: Formatting...

PDF icon, which looks like a blank page with the top-right corner folded inward, against a peach-colored background.

How to write a statement of work (with template and example)

How to write a statement of work (with...

Hero image with an icon of a Gantt chart for product roadmaps and project management

21 project management templates to organize any workflow

21 project management templates to organize...

Hero image with an icon representing company core values

Company core values: AI core value generator (and 8 examples)

Company core values: AI core value generator...

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'

550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business

550+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration. Go even further with LivePlan , which harnesses AI-assisted writing features and SBA-approved plan examples to get you funded.

Find your business plan example

Accounting, Insurance & Compliance

Accounting, Insurance & Compliance Business Plans

  • View All 25

Children & Pets

Children & Pets Business Plans

  • Children's Education & Recreation
  • View All 33

Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance

Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance Business Plans

  • Auto Detail & Repair
  • Cleaning Products
  • View All 39

Clothing & Fashion Brand

Clothing & Fashion Brand Business Plans

  • Clothing & Fashion Design
  • View All 26

Construction, Architecture & Engineering

Construction, Architecture & Engineering Business Plans

  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • View All 46

Consulting, Advertising & Marketing

Consulting, Advertising & Marketing Business Plans

  • Advertising
  • View All 54

Education

Education Business Plans

  • Education Consulting
  • Education Products

Business plan template: There's an easier way to get your business plan done.

Entertainment & Recreation

Entertainment & Recreation Business Plans

  • Entertainment
  • Film & Television
  • View All 60

Events

Events Business Plans

  • Event Planning
  • View All 17

Farm & Agriculture

Farm & Agriculture Business Plans

  • Agri-tourism
  • Agriculture Consulting
  • View All 16

Finance & Investing

Finance & Investing Business Plans

  • Financial Planning
  • View All 10

Fine Art & Crafts

Fine Art & Crafts Business Plans

Fitness & Beauty

Fitness & Beauty Business Plans

  • Salon & Spa
  • View All 35

Food and Beverage

Food and Beverage Business Plans

  • Bar & Brewery
  • View All 77

Hotel & Lodging

Hotel & Lodging Business Plans

  • Bed and Breakfast

Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.

IT, Staffing & Customer Service

IT, Staffing & Customer Service Business Plans

  • Administrative Services
  • Customer Service
  • View All 22

Manufacturing & Wholesale

Manufacturing & Wholesale Business Plans

  • Cleaning & Cosmetics Manufacturing
  • View All 68

Medical & Health

Medical & Health Business Plans

  • Dental Practice
  • Health Administration
  • View All 41

Nonprofit

Nonprofit Business Plans

  • Co-op Nonprofit
  • Food & Housing Nonprofit
  • View All 13

Real Estate & Rentals

Real Estate & Rentals Business Plans

  • Equipment Rental

Retail & Ecommerce

Retail & Ecommerce Business Plans

  • Car Dealership
  • View All 116

Technology

Technology Business Plans

  • Apps & Software
  • Communication Technology

Transportation, Travel & Logistics

Transportation, Travel & Logistics Business Plans

  • Airline, Taxi & Shuttle
  • View All 62

View all sample business plans

Example business plan format

Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.

Competition

Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.

To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.

Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.

The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.

Milestones & metrics

The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.

A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.

You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.

Company & team

Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.

Financial projections

Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.

Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.

The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.

Types of business plans explained

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. To get the most out of your plan, it's best to find a format that suits your needs. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan

The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you'll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.

Business model canvas

The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.

By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.

It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2024.

This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

How to use an example business plan to help you write your own

Wistia video thumbnail for video id e929pxw2b2

How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.

For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.

Use a business plan example as a guide

Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.

One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.

You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.

If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .

Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document

Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.

Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool

Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.

If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.

Prepare to pitch your business

If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.

Get LivePlan in your classroom

Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.

With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .

Ready to get started?

Now that you know how to use an example business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.

Use the search bar below to get started and find the right match for your business idea.

Garrett's Bike Shop

The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.

LivePlan pitch example

Discover the world’s #1 plan building software

simple business plan making

Get started

  • Project management
  • CRM and Sales
  • Work management
  • Product development life cycle
  • Comparisons
  • Construction management
  • monday.com updates

Simple business plan template for startup founders

simple business plan making

Most new businesses that fail do so for one of two reasons: (1) lack of market need and/or (2) no more cash.

These two reasons account for more than 70% of new businesses not making it. However, both causes can often be avoided if founders invest upfront time in developing a carefully researched business plan.

A simple business plan template provides a proven framework to start from, concisely helps structure ideas, and shows potential investors what an organized and professional team looks like — one that can bring this business idea to market.

This article will share our custom-developed, simple business plan template, cover what should be included, and more.

Get the template

What is a simple business plan template?

A business plan is a written document outlining how a company intends to achieve its primary objectives — obtaining a particular market share, growing revenue, or reaching the next round of funding.

Download Excel template

While companies of all stages and sizes use business plans, they are beneficial for startups, as they can be the key to attaining funding.

A business plan template is a customizable document that provides all the crucial and necessary elements of a great business plan, allowing company leaders to start from a solid and established foundation rather than from scratch.

A simple business plan template typically includes:

  • table of contents
  • executive summary
  • company description
  • analysis of the target market
  • description of the management team
  • details of the product or service
  • financial forecasts
  • funding requirements
  • appendices such as legal documents, permits, patents, and licenses

Business plans can quickly become huge, cumbersome documents, requiring a significant time investment from the creator. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends business plans be between 30 and 50 pages long.

While there is some benefit to spending this time developing a comprehensive business plan, agility is often more critical in the startup business world. That’s the main reason why simple business plan templates exist.

Simple business plan templates typically follow a structure outlining goals, teams, and financials.

  • Company description : What does the business do? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who is involved? What key hires have been made? What expertise do they bring to the table? Why are they the right team to get the job done?
  • Industry and competitive analysis: Who are the company’s competitors? What are they doing well and not so well? What opportunities exist to differentiate and be successful in this industry?
  • Target market: Who are the customers being targeted? What are their interests? What are their everyday challenges and goals?
  • Timeline : What are the critical dates for tasks/goals?
  • Marketing plan : How will the plan attract new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do current revenue streams, cash on hand, revenue structure, required funding or funding already received, etc., look like.

Why use a simple business plan template?

We highly recommend founders use a simple business plan template, mainly for the speed and agility they offer.

Creating a business plan takes time and effort, no matter how many times it’s been done. Even a simple, one-page business plan designed for small businesses requires a fair bit of research.

Each section of the business needs to be analyzed. First, it’s essential to understand the market conditions and have a step-by-step plan. Then finally, it’s necessary to determine the plan’s structure.

Templates are even more crucial for first-time startup founders. 

It’s understandable not to be super-confident in the first (or 2nd or 3rd) business plan writing process. A proven framework will help all — even seasoned veterans, ensure they:

  • Don’t miss any critical elements.
  • Structure ideas neatly and concisely.
  • Foster a sense of professionalism, improving the confidence of potential investors

What are some examples of simple business plan templates?

These sample business plan templates serve as a great jumping-off point. Use them as inspiration. Take note of the similarities across the different examples.

1. One-page business plan template

A one-page business plan template is perfect for creating a plan to bring to the next startup pitch. But of course, supplementing the template with appendices for financial reports like balance sheets or income statements is important.

Summarizing the entire business into a single page is a great exercise. It ensures a robust and concise knowledge of each area of operation, creating more confidence to discuss each point with potential investors.

A breakdown how to create a simple business plan template in five steps

( Image Source )

2. Simple business plan template in Excel

While Excel does not have all the bells and whistles, it’s still a popular and widely-used platform — one that many founders choose to use to create simple business plans. This template can be used for any type of business, though it’s built for early-stage startups to plan out the first few months in business.

Notice how the template breaks overall costs down into smaller, more detailed items. This is useful to understand better the costs associated with starting a new business. Noting when those costs are owed also helps business owners monitor cash flow.

Simple business plan template in an Excel spreadsheet

3. Startup business plan template

Here’s another excellent example of a business plan template built for startups.

What’s great about this template is rather than providing simple headers for each section, it includes questions and prompts to help guide the necessary information.

A simple business plan template with prompt questions

4. Lean business plan template

Lean business is a style of startup operation that focuses on minimizing waste, moving fast, and keeping costs low. It’s a popular methodology for companies wanting to get off the ground quickly and build revenue without raising significant funding.

This business plan template supports startups based on the lean concept, allowing for a simple, single-page business plan with minimal time investment.

A table detailing how to fill out a lean, simple business plan template

monday.com’s simple business plan template

Most free business plan templates come in PDF, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word formats. Unfortunately, while these are popular formats and tools, they don’t tend to be particularly collaborative.

Have a distributed team? The monday.com simple business plan template will be your best friend.

A screenshot of a simple business plan template from monday.com

Customize it to include all the fields necessary for a stellar business plan plus any additional ones unique to your business. But the most significant benefit of the template is the platform it’s built on .

The monday.com Work OS means building apps and workflows is simple. Customizing fields and columns to fit what the company is already doing, not the other way around. For example, once a business plan has been created using the monday.com simple template, it’s super-easy to set up a collaborative board to manage the marketing plan , assign tasks and due dates to employees and freelancers, and turn that business plan into reality.

A main table view of the monday.com simple business plan template

Simple business plan template tips & tricks

Here are a few tips to make the most of this template and create a business plan that works.

1. Use simple, approachable language.

The goal is for people to read the business plan, right? Using everyday language over complex jargon and corporate terminology is an excellent place to start. Then, ensuring anyone who comes across the plan will have no issue understanding its meaning.

2. Write the executive summary last.

The executive summary is a short section that summarizes every aspect of the business plan. So, first, write the entire plan. THEN write the executive summary.

3. Supplement the business plan with supporting documents

While simple business plans are fast and effective, they leave out a lot of information by nature. Consider supplementing the plan with appendices such as financial statements , data sets, and market analyses.

4. Be conservative with financial estimates.

Where possible, financial projections should be based on real-life data. But even with the most accurate and up-to-date information out there, there’s always room for interpretation. So it’s best to give a range where possible, and if not, stay conservative with financial estimates.

5. Include thorough research and analysis

Invest the time early on and capture accurate, comprehensive data to support all claims. Interview customers and prospects to get a realistic picture of the target audience. Consider hiring a professional firm to provide a market research report.

FAQs about simple business plan templates

How do i write a simple business plan.

Simple business plans can be as little as one page with concise writing. Include information for each of these sections:

  • Company description : What does the company do and sell? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who works for the company, and what value do they provide?
  • Industry : What competitors or other options exist?
  • Target market : What does the ideal customer look like?
  • Marketing strategy and plan : What is the plan to bring in new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do the revenue streams look like?

What are the 7 parts of a business plan?

A 7-part business plan starts with the executive summary, moves on to describe the company, and finishes with financials.

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Organization and management team
  • Products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Strategy and implementation timeline
  • Financial plan and projections

What are common mistakes in a business plan?

Typical business plan mistakes include:

  • not being research-driven
  • unrealistic financial estimates
  • providing too much information
  • not using data to back up claims
  • not offering an analysis of the competitive landscape
  • only outlining vague goals and priorities

simple business plan making

Business Plan Template.

While your company’s goals might be crystal clear in your head, going in without a formal business plan could make things tricky. If the idea of creating one seems daunting, don’t worry. With a free business plan template, you can be up and running in no time. 

Discover more about how to create your ideal business plan and download free templates to get started here. 

Download Your Free Business Plan Template. 

Download your own free business plan template and jump right into planning your next venture. You can download a free business plan template with Adobe.  

simple business plan making

Edit templates using Acrobat.

Explore Adobe’s online PDF editor . Add text, sticky notes, highlights, drawings and more to your PDF with ease. Work smart with Adobe. 

What you'll learn:

•   What is a Business Plan?

•   Why is a Business Plan important?

•   How to Write a Business Plan.

•   Download Your Free Business Plan Template.

What is a Business Plan?

Business plans define core business objectives and the strategies to achieve them, in the form of a written document. They’re key for all types of businesses - whether they’re small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), start-ups or individual entrepreneurs.  

Generally, a straightforward and simple business plan template can be divided into the following five sections: 

  • Executive summary
  • Business description and structure
  • Market analysis and strategies
  • Organisation and management
  • Financial documents.

Why is a Business Plan important? 

A good business plan can be a vital tool, as it can act as a guide through each stage of starting your company. When you’re lost, it can be your compass to get back to the right track and help you and your team realign with the original vision. Think of it as a map pointing you from now to the future.  

It can also be a helpful document for the relevant external parties, such as investors or lenders.  

Here are some key benefits: 

  • Outline and Clarify Goals . Using a business plan template can help you to define and set goals, helping you to easily pitch them when required. It can serve as an excellent touchstone, too. 
  • Identify Issues . By clearly outlining plans ahead of time, you may be able to identify issues early - whether in the planning stage or based on the reality of deliverables versus the plan. 
  • Secure Financing . Being able to confidently lay out your goals, analysis, forecasted spending, personnel requirements and business structure is a great way to build confidence and potentially secure financing. 
  • Measure Progress . By comparing progress against your goals, you can get a sense of a project’s timescale and forecast for any potential disruptions or changes. This means you can stay on track and better adapt to any unknowns. It may help you plan for the future, too. 

How to Write a Business Plan.

Building upon a business plan template may seem daunting - but when you break it down, it’s no more intimidating than planning a trip. Just like a holiday, it requires preparation and organisation, but can be exciting. It’s a chance to see all your ideas come together into something coherent and actionable. 

Important Sections to Include in Your Business Plan Template.

  • Business, Products and Key Objectives . This lets you set an overall scope for your business plan and serves as a fundamental part of your company. 
  • Target Market and Competition . Analysing your target market and competition lets you make informed business decisions and can help to justify your plan. 
  • Sales and Marketing Plans . Detailing your sales and marketing plans can help you to arrange KPIs in the future and show how you’re utilising the data from your market research. 
  • Operational Plans . This section details the day-to-day running of your business, giving an in-depth outline of strategies for specific teams or supply chains. 
  • Personnel Structure . Writing a personnel structure gives you a sense of key responsibilities and requirements within the wider business. This can be an excellent place to take note of the skills that roles might require, what you already have and what you might need. 
  • Financials . Breaking down the operational costs and funding required for your business can help you to set future goals and secure backing if required. 

Having a PDF printable business plan template makes things easier when it comes time to format, print and share it with potential stakeholders. If you want to change the file format of your business plan, you can easily convert PDF to Word   and back again. 

Sharing your business plan as a PDF also allows for easy collaboration, with no subscription required and the ability to add comments, highlights and notes with our free online PDF editor tool .  

Top Tips for Your Business Plan.

Writing a business plan template is easier with these top tips, so you can get off to a smooth start - whatever your project. 

  • Be Realistic . Being realistic about your business plan means you can make informed decisions and will have minimal friction as the project progresses. 
  • Understand Your Market . By demonstrating an understanding of your market, you can better inform decisions and plan. It also makes your vision an easier sell. 
  • Keep it Concise . Don’t waffle on or obscure important facts in jargon. If you want to add additional detail, create an appendix to expand on areas. 
  • Stay Professional . This is key, as your business plan serves as a reference point both for internal operations and potential business. 
  • Review Your Business Plan . During the process of creating a business plan, certain details may change and mistakes can be made. Review your plan to ensure everything is correct and to double-check if anything needs to change with any new information during the process. You can easily edit business plans in PDF with Adobe Acrobat PDF editor online . 

You might also be interested in…

A person sitting at a desk looking at their computer

How to Convert JPG to PDF on a Mac DF files are designed to be readable on any device, making them a great way to share information. 

A person sitting at a desk looking at their computer

How to Post a PDF to Facebook PDFs are a great way for your business to share information – for example menus, price lists, and reports. Displaying these on your Facebook Business page is an effective way of engaging with customers using social media.

A person sitting at a desk looking at their computer

How to convert a PDF for a Kindle

Adding a PDF for a Kindle can mean it’s easier to read – and for longer PDFs, much easier to navigate than a desktop. 

A person sitting at a desk looking at their computer

How to Save a PDF to an iPhone

Saving a PDF to your smartphone is a great way to access your important files and documents on the go. 

Language Navigation

Cart

  • SUGGESTED TOPICS
  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

How Fast Should Your Company Really Grow?

  • Gary P. Pisano

simple business plan making

Growth—in revenues and profits—is the yardstick by which the competitive fitness and health of organizations is measured. Consistent profitable growth is thus a near universal goal for leaders—and an elusive one.

To achieve that goal, companies need a growth strategy that encompasses three related sets of decisions: how fast to grow, where to seek new sources of demand, and how to develop the financial, human, and organizational capabilities needed to grow. This article offers a framework for examining the critical interdependencies of those decisions in the context of a company’s overall business strategy, its capabilities and culture, and external market dynamics.

Why leaders should take a strategic perspective

Idea in Brief

The problem.

Sustained profitable growth is a nearly universal corporate goal, but it is an elusive one. Empirical research suggests that when inflation is taken into account, most companies barely grow at all.

While external factors play a role, most companies’ growth problems are self-inflicted: Too many firms approach growth in a highly reactive, opportunistic manner.

The Solution

To grow profitably over the long term, companies need a strategy that addresses three key decisions: how fast to grow (rate of growth); where to seek new sources of demand (direction of growth); and how to amass the resources needed to grow (method of growth).

Perhaps no issue attracts more senior leadership attention than growth does. And for good reason. Growth—in revenues and profits—is the yardstick by which we tend to measure the competitive fitness and health of companies and determine the quality and compensation of its management. Analysts, investors, and boards pepper CEOs about growth prospects to get insight into stock prices. Employees are attracted to faster-growing companies because they offer better opportunities for advancement, higher pay, and greater job security. Suppliers prefer faster-growing customers because working with them improves their own growth prospects. Given the choice, most companies and their stakeholders would choose faster growth over slower growth.

Five elements can move you beyond episodic success.

  • Gary P. Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie Jr. Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the author of Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation (PublicAffairs, 2019).

Partner Center

simple business plan making

Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print.  To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template.  Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to database information.  Following are the recommended action steps in sequence.  

Show the Developer tab

In Word, be sure you have the Developer tab displayed in the ribbon.  (See how here:  Show the developer tab .)

Open a template or a blank document on which to base the form

You can start with a template or just start from scratch with a blank document.

Start with a form template

Go to File > New .

In the  Search for online templates  field, type  Forms or the kind of form you want. Then press Enter .

In the displayed results, right-click any item, then select  Create. 

Start with a blank document 

Select Blank document .

Add content to the form

Go to the  Developer  tab Controls section where you can choose controls to add to your document or form. Hover over any icon therein to see what control type it represents. The various control types are described below. You can set properties on a control once it has been inserted.

To delete a content control, right-click it, then select Remove content control  in the pop-up menu. 

Note:  You can print a form that was created via content controls. However, the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control

The rich text content control enables users to format text (e.g., bold, italic) and type multiple paragraphs. To limit these capabilities, use the plain text content control . 

Click or tap where you want to insert the control.

Rich text control button

To learn about setting specific properties on these controls, see Set or change properties for content controls .

Insert a picture control

A picture control is most often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

Picture control button

Insert a building block control

Use a building block control  when you want users to choose a specific block of text. These are helpful when you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the document's specific purpose. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

building block gallery control

Select Developer and content controls for the building block.

Developer tab showing content controls

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

combo box button

Select the content control, and then select Properties .

To create a list of choices, select Add under Drop-Down List Properties .

Type a choice in Display Name , such as Yes , No , or Maybe .

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Fill in any other properties that you want.

Note:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

Click or tap where you want to insert the date picker control.

Date picker button

Insert a check box

Click or tap where you want to insert the check box control.

Check box button

Use the legacy form controls

Legacy form controls are for compatibility with older versions of Word and consist of legacy form and Active X controls.

Click or tap where you want to insert a legacy control.

Legacy control button

Select the Legacy Form control or Active X Control that you want to include.

Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

Select the content control that you want to change.

Go to Developer > Properties .

Controls Properties  button

Change the properties that you want.

Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

Open the form that you want to lock or protect.

Select Developer > Restrict Editing .

Restrict editing button

After selecting restrictions, select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Restrict editing panel

Advanced Tip:

If you want to protect only parts of the document, separate the document into sections and only protect the sections you want.

To do this, choose Select Sections in the Restrict Editing panel. For more info on sections, see Insert a section break .

Sections selector on Resrict sections panel

If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab .

Open a template or use a blank document

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Go to File > New from Template .

New from template option

In Search, type form .

Double-click the template you want to use.

Select File > Save As , and pick a location to save the form.

In Save As , type a file name and then select Save .

Start with a blank document

Go to File > New Document .

New document option

Go to File > Save As .

Go to Developer , and then choose the controls that you want to add to the document or form. To remove a content control, select the control and press Delete. You can set Options on controls once inserted. From Options, you can add entry and exit macros to run when users interact with the controls, as well as list items for combo boxes, .

Adding content controls to your form

In the document, click or tap where you want to add a content control.

On Developer , select Text Box , Check Box , or Combo Box .

Developer tab with content controls

To set specific properties for the control, select Options , and set .

Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each control that you want to add.

Set options

Options let you set common settings, as well as control specific settings. Select a control and then select Options to set up or make changes.

Set common properties.

Select Macro to Run on lets you choose a recorded or custom macro to run on Entry or Exit from the field.

Bookmark Set a unique name or bookmark for each control.

Calculate on exit This forces Word to run or refresh any calculations, such as total price when the user exits the field.

Add Help Text Give hints or instructions for each field.

OK Saves settings and exits the panel.

Cancel Forgets changes and exits the panel.

Set specific properties for a Text box

Type Select form Regular text, Number, Date, Current Date, Current Time, or Calculation.

Default text sets optional instructional text that's displayed in the text box before the user types in the field. Set Text box enabled to allow the user to enter text into the field.

Maximum length sets the length of text that a user can enter. The default is Unlimited .

Text format can set whether text automatically formats to Uppercase , Lowercase , First capital, or Title case .

Text box enabled Lets the user enter text into a field. If there is default text, user text replaces it.

Set specific properties for a Check box .

Default Value Choose between Not checked or checked as default.

Checkbox size Set a size Exactly or Auto to change size as needed.

Check box enabled Lets the user check or clear the text box.

Set specific properties for a Combo box

Drop-down item Type in strings for the list box items. Press + or Enter to add an item to the list.

Items in drop-down list Shows your current list. Select an item and use the up or down arrows to change the order, Press - to remove a selected item.

Drop-down enabled Lets the user open the combo box and make selections.

Protect the form

Go to Developer > Protect Form .

Protect form button on the Developer tab

Note:  To unprotect the form and continue editing, select Protect Form again.

Save and close the form.

Test the form (optional)

If you want, you can test the form before you distribute it.

Protect the form.

Reopen the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy.

Creating fillable forms isn’t available in Word for the web.

You can create the form with the desktop version of Word with the instructions in Create a fillable form .

When you save the document and reopen it in Word for the web, you’ll see the changes you made.

Facebook

Need more help?

Want more options.

Explore subscription benefits, browse training courses, learn how to secure your device, and more.

simple business plan making

Microsoft 365 subscription benefits

simple business plan making

Microsoft 365 training

simple business plan making

Microsoft security

simple business plan making

Accessibility center

Communities help you ask and answer questions, give feedback, and hear from experts with rich knowledge.

simple business plan making

Ask the Microsoft Community

simple business plan making

Microsoft Tech Community

simple business plan making

Windows Insiders

Microsoft 365 Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback.

I Tried 10 AI Project Management Tools to See if They’re Worth It (Results & Recommendations)

Published: February 14, 2024

AI project management tools simplify decision-making, keep projects rolling, and streamline communications. Pick the right project management tool, and you could save hundreds — even thousands — per year.

women use ai project management tools

I started in digital project management nine years ago, and AI project management tools were unheard of. The project management role was different than it is today.

Project managers were doing a lot of manual admin and repetitive tasks while keeping everything together and bringing those all-important soft skills to clients and internal teams who were busy getting the job done.

It was a lot. If you’re reading this, you might still be working like that: more spreadsheets than you can bear to think about, project managers stressed with deliverables and shaky briefs, leaving the team to use their best guess.

Today, my workflow relies on AI tools to keep my clients and team happy.

Sign Up to Try HubSpot's AI Tools

The tools take much of the project management, leaving me and the team with the mental capacity to do what humans do best: build and nurture relationships, send thoughtful updates, and deliver even faster than we could ten years ago.

With the right AI tool, your workflow could look more streamlined with happier staff at work.

Naturally, the AI project management tool you select will depend on how you want to use it, but this article should give you a solid guide for choosing the right AI project management tool for you.

I’ve included my review of each tool, how I found it, the AI features, the price, and who I think it’s best for.

What does AI project management software do?

Testing ai project management tools, the scenario, 10 ai project management software.

AI project management software can help manage and organize projects and teams.

They’re commonly used for automating routine tasks, managing production schedules, storing files against projects and tasks, and providing a central hub with all content related to a project.

With the rise of AI, you can automate workflows, remove decision fatigue with predictive analysis, bolster productivity, and essentially hire a digital assistant who’s there to support you every day.

Project management tools are worth every penny and will pay for themselves in productivity. But if you’re worried about budgets, plenty of brilliant free project management tools exist.

I’ve tested AI project management and many other marketing tools for years. I have to admit it: I love trying and testing tools.

It’s almost a problem because, in the digital world, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by choice and distracted by the next amazing new development.

But I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. In fact, I committed myself to try more tools in the future.

Embracing the development of new tools is a fast track to an easier life, a streamlined business, and a to-do list that is as satisfying as it is productive. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s not just me saying this.

Of those surveyed in Hubspot’s State of AI report , respondents estimated they save two hours and 24 minutes per day when using AI compared to not. Automating manual tasks is estimated to save two hours and 16 minutes per day.

The time saved using AI is significant. All you need to do is find the one that suits you and your needs, and I’ve run extensive tests to help you out.

When I’m testing AI project management tools, I want a tool that:

  • Feels intuitive to use.
  • Manages projects, tasks, and sub-tasks.
  • Makes my team feel happy (and not overwhelmed!).
  • Streamlines communications related to projects and/or tasks.
  • Has integration options so that my business can scale with the tool.

I judged the tools tested in this article by these factors:

  • How well the tool replicates or replaces human action.
  • AI functionality.

HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. HubSpot will share the information you provide to us with the following partners, who will use your information for similar purposes: 10Web. You can unsubscribe from communications from HubSpot at any time. For more information, check out HubSpot's Privacy Policy . To unsubscribe from 10Web's communications, see 10Web's Privacy Policy .

simple business plan making

The State of Artificial Intelligence Report

New research into how marketers are using AI and key insights into the future of marketing.

  • Marketing AI Tools
  • Practical Tips
  • Trends and Statistics

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

The scenario is close to my actual life as a marketer. I run many projects with fully remote teams internally and externally (my team and the client’s team).

We all need to work harmoniously in a central location.

The project needs to be well structured with some flexibility for changes. All team members need to add comments, set tasks, and have some accountability tracking to keep the project moving.

Finally, the AI project management tools must take some elements of the project. These tasks must be monotonous, undesirable for the humans involved, and safe enough for AI intervention.

AI project manager software; Asana

  • Individuals get started for free (This is all I’ve needed in the past, but now I have outgrown it)
  • Starter package is $10.99 per user a month, billed annually
  • Advanced package is $24.99 per user a month, billed annually
  • Traditional project management without customization
  • Small teams and individuals

AI project management tools, ClickUp

How I Discovered Trello

Trello was a tool I used many years ago. It was the first project management tool I was introduced to in 2011. I used Trello to manage content as part of a small marketing agency.

How Trello Supported My Project Management

I still use Trello today. It’s in my project management arsenal, even with Asana for client projects.

I like Trello because it is simple. For clients who don’t have many projects, I turn to Trello. It’s intuitive and easy to use, people get on board with it quickly, and the free package is enough for how I use it.

I don’t think Trello suits companies looking to scale, but it's perfect for small projects or teams.

Strategy AI

Tello’s Strategy AI helps with general project management and productivity. You can use the software to control who sees what project, and projects or tasks are marked with priority to keep the team working on the most important tasks first.

Trello is one of the cheapest project management tools. It is also one of the most simple.

  • Get started for free
  • Standard is $5 a user per month, billed annually
  • Premium is $10 a user per month, billed annually
  • Enterprise is from $7.38 a user per month, depending on seat quantity, billed annually
  • Small teams
  • Individuals
  • Small and few projects
  • Content management

ai project management tools, Motion

How OneCal Supported My Project Management

While OneCal isn’t managing projects, it is keeping my workload manageable and the monotony of checking multiple calendars at bay. This means I can go to any calendar for an accurate display of what’s happening in all of my calendars.

Ultimately, it saves me a lot of time and rids me of calendar anxiety.

For those who don’t use Motion, OneCal also has a booking system.

Calendar Syncing

Once you’ve integrated OneCal with your calendars, you’ll have synced calendars everywhere .

Booking Links

You can set up a booking system so your meeting guests can book a slot in your calendar at a time that suits you (and them!).

With this system, you can set buffer times and avoid back-to-back meetings, and your guests can easily see available slots in their time zones.

  • Starter is just $4 a month billed annually (this is all I needed)
  • Essential $8.30 a month billed annually
  • Premium $25 a month billed annually
  • Anyone using multiple calendars or wanting to streamline the meeting booking process

AI project management tools, Notion

Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles.

11 Artificial Intelligence Examples from Real Brands in 2023

11 Artificial Intelligence Examples from Real Brands in 2023

The Complete Guide to AI for Amazon Sellers in 2024

The Complete Guide to AI for Amazon Sellers in 2024

What's Holding AI Adoption Back in Marketing? [New Data]

What's Holding AI Adoption Back in Marketing? [New Data]

10 Challenges Marketers Face When Implementing AI in 2023 [New Data + Tips]

10 Challenges Marketers Face When Implementing AI in 2023 [New Data + Tips]

How AI Can Improve Your Customer Experience [New Data + Tips]

How AI Can Improve Your Customer Experience [New Data + Tips]

The Complete Guide to AI Transparency [6 Best Practices]

The Complete Guide to AI Transparency [6 Best Practices]

AI Chatbots: Our Top 19 Picks for 2024

AI Chatbots: Our Top 19 Picks for 2024

AI Marketing Campaigns Only a Bot Could Launch & Which Tools Pitch the Best Ones [Product Test]

AI Marketing Campaigns Only a Bot Could Launch & Which Tools Pitch the Best Ones [Product Test]

AI Influencer Marketing: How Artificial Intelligence Could Change Influencer Marketing

AI Influencer Marketing: How Artificial Intelligence Could Change Influencer Marketing

11 Skills You Need in the AI Era [Data + Tips]

11 Skills You Need in the AI Era [Data + Tips]

New research into how marketers are using AI and key insights into the future of marketing with AI.

Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform

  • Side Hustles
  • Power Players
  • Young Success
  • Save and Invest
  • Become Debt-Free
  • Land the Job
  • Closing the Gap
  • Science of Success
  • Pop Culture and Media
  • Psychology and Relationships
  • Health and Wellness
  • Real Estate
  • Most Popular

Related Stories

  • Psychology and Relationships The No. 1 simple habit that will make you happier—it   takes less than 2 minutes: Happiness researcher
  • Health and Wellness Harvard psychologist: If you can say 'yes' to these 9   questions, you're 'more emotionally secure than most'
  • Leadership Build these 2 'strength skills' to be more   successful, says psychotherapist
  • Raising Successful Kids I've studied over 200 kids—here are 6 things kids   with high emotional intelligence do every day
  • Life I was dreading my 50th birthday. But these 4   life-changing things happened—and I'm so much happier

Happiness researcher: The exact blueprint that will help you achieve your biggest career goal

thumbnail

Whether it's starting a business or mastering an ambitious skill, having big career goals can be exciting but overwhelming. How do you successfully achieve them while navigating the demands and responsibilities of daily life?

I know the feeling. My dream was to write a book. It took me over 10 years, but this spring, I'm finally publishing my first book: " New Happy ."

As a researcher in the science of happiness, I was lucky: I was able to learn the secrets that helped me make my journey a little easier.

Here's the exact blueprint I used:

1. Identify your 'what' and 'why'

My "what" was writing a book, and my "why" was to help people find greater happiness.

One study that inspired me studied scientists who were striving to achieve extremely long-term objectives, like finding cancer treatments and seeking out extraterrestrial life. They knew that their dreams might not be achieved in their lifetime, yet felt the strong drive to pursue them regardless.

Their motivation came from having a clear vision of what it would look like to achieve their dream, and knowing how that achievement would positively impact their field, future generations, and the broader world.

2. Break your dream into short-term goals 

A decade ago, I was working as a management consultant. I had no experience as a writer and no training in the field I was passionate about.

I often hear from other people who are in a similar position. Their dream involves so much change that it overwhelms them and prevents them from taking action. 

To get unstuck, break your dream into short-term goals . These should take you between one to three months to achieve. Bit by bit, you close the gap between here and there. 

3. Change the way you think of yourself 

I started calling myself a writer well before I had ever published anything. This small shift inspired me to adopt new habits, like waking up early to write. It strengthened my determination to write a book. 

If you want to open a business, start thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. It will inspire you to invest time in educating yourself on business fundamentals, pay attention to what influences your purchasing decisions, and analyze the companies around you to identify what they could improve. 

4. Create a sustainable plan 

Do you usually watch television or scroll social media in the evenings? Perhaps, one day a week, you could use that time to work towards your goal.

It's far more effective to make a smaller time commitment that you can stay consistent with. During the time it took me to write my book, I had five different jobs, went to graduate school, started a business, navigated major personal challenges, and saw the world upended by a global pandemic.

Each of those different seasons of my life came with its own unique set of challenges. So as your life shifts, revisit your balance and evaluate whether or not it's working for you. And if it isn't, ask what needs to change. 

5. Celebrate progress, not achievement 

Researchers say that the single biggest driver of daily motivation is the feeling of making progress. It gives you a burst of positive emotions and inspire you to show up again tomorrow. 

When I was writing my book, I would start every writing session by identifying a small win I could achieve that day, like choosing the scientific studies I wanted to review or identifying the pages I wanted to polish. 

When you're done, take a moment to celebrate and bask in your progress.

6. Treat yourself with compassion 

I grew up believing that the best way to motivate myself was through self-criticism. I thought that if I beat myself up for my mistakes and setbacks, it would help me to do a better job next time.

But self-criticism actually makes it harder to achieve your goals. It's more effective to treat yourself with self-compassion.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • When you have a setback, remind yourself that it's okay to feel upset about it. 
  • When you feel discouraged, reach out and ask for support from a loved one. 
  • When you feel tired, allow yourself to take breaks and recover. 

7. Ask for help when you need it

Looking back, one truth stands out more than any other: I would never have achieved my goal without the support of other people. 

At every turn, I leaned on others: the family members who reviewed my grad school application essay, the friends who liked my first posts on social media, the mentors who coached me through tough situations, and my partner who read every draft of my book. 

It taught me that any personal achievement is never just personal — it is also communal. No one can do anything meaningful alone. 

My advice:  

  • When you feel stuck, consider who you know that might have been in a similar situation and ask them their perspective. 
  • When you are frustrated, talk to someone who benefits from your work — their perspective will remind you why you're doing it. 
  • When you feel discouraged, ask for a pep talk from someone in your life who can remind you of how far you've come. 

Your dreams matter, and these seven science-backed strategies will help you to achieve them and experience happiness along the way.

Stephanie Harrison  is the founder of  The New Happy , an organization advancing a new philosophy of happiness. She is an expert in happiness, speaker, designer, and author of the forthcoming book " New Happy ," published by Penguin Random House. Follow her on  Instagram ,  TikTok  and  LinkedIn .

Want to land your dream job in 2024?  Take CNBC's new online course  How to Ace Your Job Interview  to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Parenting expert: 5 signs your kid will be successful

  • Share full article

Advertisement

Supported by

IBM Reopens Its Frozen Pension Plan, Saving the Company Millions

The company has stopped making contributions to 401(k) accounts, and instead gives workers cash credits in a new version of its old pension plan.

An illustration of an old computer that's melting, with IBM on the screen.

By Jeff Sommer

Jeff Sommer writes Strategies , a weekly column on markets, finance and the economy.

Traditional pension plans haven’t come back. But the news from IBM might lead you to think so.

Last month, IBM thawed out a defined benefit pension plan that it had frozen more than 15 years ago. The company has also stopped making contributions into employee 401(k) accounts.

These moves are startling, because, on the surface, at least, IBM seems to be reversing a decades-long trend of corporations moving away from traditional pension plans. With the old plans, companies promised to pay employees retirement income that rewarded them for long years of service. But these plans were expensive, and IBM and hundreds of other firms instead began to emphasize 401(k)s that moved the primary responsibility for saving and investing to workers.

IBM’s new approach is significant because the company has been a leader in employee benefit policymaking. What it is doing now is no simple return to the classic cradle-to-grave benefits system. In fact, IBM’s new pension plan isn’t nearly as generous to long-tenured employees compared with its predecessor.

The move has real advantages for some people who work at IBM, particularly those who put little or no money of their own into 401(k)s and who stay at the company for a relatively short while.

Crucially, IBM’s maneuver is likely to be wonderful for its shareholders. The company is saving hundreds of millions of dollars a year by stopping contributions to employee 401(k) accounts. And it doesn’t need to put any money into the pension plan this year — and, probably, for the next few years — because it has plenty of money already in it. On a purely financial standpoint, IBM is improving its cash flow and bottom line.

For a small but important subset of companies — those with fully funded, closed or frozen pension plans — IBM’s move could be a harbinger of things to come, pension consultants say. IBM is using a surplus in its pension fund to simultaneously change its employee benefits package and help the company’s finances.

“You’ll be seeing more of this,” said Matt Maloney, a senior partner at Aon. “But I don’t think it’s really a watershed event because not that many companies are in a position to do what IBM is doing.”

Retirement Basics

IBM calls its new pension plan a “retirement benefit account.” It is nestled, legally and bureaucratically, within the old version. Because it’s part of the defined benefit pension plan, the new plan is backed by the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation , which will pay benefits , up to certain limits, if the plan runs out of money or the employer goes out of business.

Unlike 401(k)s, in pension plans the employer makes “the contribution, owns the assets, selects the investments and bears the investment risk,” said Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Employees are immediately vested in the new IBM plan, and can take their money with them when they leave, IBM says. So far, so good.

But for many employees, the change comes at a cost.

IBM will no longer make contributions to employee 401(k) plans. Until now, it made 5 percent matching contributions and 1 percent automatic contributions, according to internal documents that were posted publicly and whose authenticity Jessica Chen, an IBM spokeswoman, confirmed. That money and those accounts are owned by employees. It took a year for employees to be vested in those accounts.

The new retirement benefit accounts are part of a so-called cash balance plan, a pension plan in which the employer controls how the money is invested.

In the new IBM accounts, employees receive credits equal to 5 percent of their salary — 1 percentage point less than the company’s maximum contribution to the 401(k) used to be. For the first year only, employees are getting a 1 percent salary bump to make up for the discrepancy in contributions between the old 401(k) and the new retirement accounts.

Risk and Return

IBM documents show that in the new accounts, employees are guaranteed a return of 6 percent interest for the first three years — an excellent rate under current market conditions.

From 2027 through 2033, the return is likely to fall. Employees will receive the yield on 10-year Treasuries, with a floor of 3 percent. From 2034 on, there is no floor. So if Treasury yields fall below 3 percent — as they were most of the time from late 2008 through early 2022 — a paltry return is all that employees will get.

Remember, in a 401(k), employees are free to invest as they like. People with a long investing horizon can favor the stock market, which tends to produce higher returns than government bonds over long periods.

Although IBM workers can keep their 401(k)s and continue to add money to them, they won’t have the inducement of a company match. How many will continue to contribute remains to be seen. In the new accounts, employees are receiving only fixed-income investments.

That may be fine for people in retirement, but it’s questionable for those with years to come in the work force. Employees may need to increase the equity allocations in their 401(k)s or other accounts.

The Background

At the peak for defined benefit plans, in the 1970s, as many as 62 percent of workers in the private sector were covered solely by these retirement plans, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, an independent organization that researches retirement issues.

By 2022, the institute found , only 1 percent of private-sector wage and salaried workers had just a defined benefit plan, while 41 percent participated in only a defined contribution — or 401(k) — plan, and 8 percent participated in both.

Underfunding of corporate pension plans led to the great shift away from defined benefit plans. At first, 401(k)s were supplementary savings vehicles for employees. Now, along with Social Security, 401(k)s have become core elements of retirement.

By closing the old defined benefit plans to new workers and by freezing benefits for people already enrolled in them, companies reduced their potential pension liabilities. They poured money into the old retirement plans to bring them into compliance with government rules, which were relaxed to give companies relief .

But canny management and cooperative financial markets have helped increase plan funding, too. Because pensions are a form of annuities, the increase in interest rates over the past couple of years has made it cheaper to finance existing pensions. On top of that, strong stock returns over the past decade have bolstered fund assets.

These factors have led to a sea change in the funding of the old corporate pension plans. (Public pension plans, on the other hand, face an estimated $1.45 trillion funding gap, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts .) For big companies, the average defined benefit private plan now has more than enough money to pay off its pension obligations. For defined benefit pension plans at S&P 500 companies, Aon says , funding levels rose to 102.7 percent on Feb. 6 from 78.4 percent in 2011.

The Bottom Line

IBM’s defined benefit pension plan is now extremely well funded. Its annual report shows that it had a $3.5 billion surplus in the plan last year, while it paid $550 million annually in 401(k) contributions. It doesn’t need to put fresh money into the pension plan and now, with the shift to the new retirement benefit accounts, it isn’t making 401(k) contributions either.

Professor Munnell estimated that IBM would be able to credit employees with benefits in the new accounts for at least the next six or seven years. Several pension consultants said that if market conditions were favorable, and IBM invested the $3.5 billion surplus at a higher rate of return than the fixed-income rates it was offering employees, it might be able to avoid deploying any cash on these benefits for many years.

The company said its retirement innovation was improving its finances. In an earnings call on Jan. 24, James J. Kavanaugh, IBM’s chief financial officer, said the company’s cash flow was better this year, in part because of “lower cash requirements driven by changes in our retirement plans.” That could be true for years to come.

Other companies with frozen plans that are fully funded could follow IBM’s lead.

This isn’t a return to the richer benefits for long-tenured employees provided by traditional defined benefit plans.

But perhaps cash balance plans combined with 401(k)s are the best that most big companies are likely to be offering. If so, Zorast Wadia , a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman, the pension consultant, suggested, there are a variety of ways of designing retirement packages that make use of pension plan surpluses. Unlike IBM, for example, some companies could continue their 401(k) contributions while starting cash balance plans.

Finding ways to use well-funded pension plans generously but responsibly is a challenge for big companies. IBM has moved cautiously. But it’s in nobody’s interest for companies to make pension promises that they can’t keep.

Jeff Sommer writes Strategies , a weekly column on markets, finance and the economy. More about Jeff Sommer

A Guide to Making Better Financial Moves

Making sense of your finances can be complicated. the tips below can help..

Whether you’re looking to make your home more energy-efficient, install solar panels or buy an electric car, this guide can help you save money and fight climate change .

Starting this year, some of the money in 529 college savings accounts can be used for retirement if it’s not needed for education. Here is how it works .

Are you trying to improve your credit profile? You can now choose to have your on-time rent payments reported to the credit bureaus  to enhance your score.

Americans’ credit card debt and late payments are rising, and card interest rates remain high, but many people lack a plan to pay down their debt. Here’s what you can do .

When banks close checking and credit-card accounts because of “suspicious activity,” chaos and anxiety ensue. It doesn’t have to be this way .

There are few challenges facing students more daunting than paying for college. This guide can help you make sense of it all .

IMAGES

  1. How to create a simple business plan on one page (plus a free template)

    simple business plan making

  2. FREE Simple Business Plan Template

    simple business plan making

  3. Simple Business Plan Template [Free PDF]

    simple business plan making

  4. Free Printable Simple Business Plan Template Of Printable Sample

    simple business plan making

  5. Simple Business Plan Outline

    simple business plan making

  6. Simple Business Plan Template Free ~ Addictionary

    simple business plan making

VIDEO

  1. Strategic Planning: Business Plan in 1 Minute

  2. The 5 step simple business plan

  3. MODICARE BUSINESS PLAN AND MEET

  4. Very unique and very simple Business Plan 9417418475

  5. How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

  6. e Biotorium simple Business plan

COMMENTS

  1. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    How To Write an Effective Business Plan in 6 Steps Frequently Asked Questions While taking many forms and serving many purposes, they all have one thing in common: business plans help you...

  2. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    A business plan is a document that communicates a company's goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

  3. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

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

    The basics of business planning If you're reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . You understand that planning helps you: Raise money Grow strategically Keep your business on the right track As you start to write your plan, it's useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is.

  5. Free Simple Business Plan Templates

    This simple business plan template lays out each element of a traditional business plan to assist you as you build your own, and it provides space to add financing information for startups seeking funding. You can use and customize this simple business plan template to fit the needs for organizations of any size. One-Page Business Plan Template

  6. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    7. Perform a business financial analysis 8. Make financial projections 9. Add additional information to an appendix Business plan tips and resources MORE LIKE THIS Small Business A...

  7. Write your business plan

    Executive summary Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

  8. How To Write a Simple Business Plan in 5 Steps (With Example)

    Updated March 29, 2023 When starting your own business, the most important thing to do first is to develop a solid business plan. This plan can help guide you through the process of starting a business and narrow your vision and goals. It's also important to have a business plan when convincing investors or financial firms to fund your business.

  9. How to Write a Business Plan: Beginner's Guide (& Templates)

    Step #1: Write Your Executive Summary Step #2: Put Together Your Company Description Step #3: Conduct Your Market Analysis Step #4: Research Your Competition Step #5: Outline Your Products or Services Step #6: Summarize Your Financial Plan Step #7: Determine Your Marketing Strategy Step #8: Showcase Your Organizational Chart

  10. How to Create a Business Plan (7+ Business Plan Templates)

    To get started on your business plan, save yourself some time and use a template. Most business plan templates will include things like a cover page, table of contents and the main sections you need. It will also have pre-formatted pages with placeholder text and charts that you can swap out. USE THIS TEMPLATE.

  11. How to Easily Write a Business Plan in 30-Minutes

    1. Value proposition This section answers the question, "What does your business do?" Your goal is to communicate the value you are providing to your customers in a way that is as simple and direct as possible. Think of it like this—if you're at a party and someone asks you what your business does, can you describe it in a single sentence?

  12. How to Write a Business Plan

    Updated Oct 23, 2023 Table of Contents Skye Schooley Staff Writer at businessnewsdaily.com Having a road map helps you reach your journey's end successfully. Business plans do the same for...

  13. How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

    1. Executive summary No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan.

  14. Free business plan template + pro tips

    It should reflect your values, goals, and what you hope to achieve, setting the tone for your entire business plan. Ask yourself if your mission statement makes your business sound credible, feasible, and profitable. 2. Outline a detailed company description. Don't be shy about the details.

  15. Free simple business plan templates to edit and print

    68 templates Create a blank Simple Business Plan Restaurant Business Plan in Terracotta Coral Peach Friendly Dynamic Style Document by Canva Creative Studio White and Blue Modern Business Plan Cover Page Document by cavani team Clothing Business Plan in Navy White Minimal Corporate Style Document by Canva Creative Studio

  16. 550+ Sample Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own

    550+ Sample Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own — Bplans 550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration.

  17. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    677 templates Create a blank Business Plan Beige Aesthetic Modern Business Plan A4 Document Document by Rise & Roar Design Navy and Gray Modern Business Plan Cover Document Document by Banuaa Grey and White Modern Business Plan Cover Document A4 Document by Ubara Startup Business Plan in Cream Black and White Modern Sophisticated Style

  18. Free Business Plan Template

    Try Now. Apply our simple business plan template. to give you a head start. Our business plan software lights the way as you sort through the important elements of creating a business plan. Inject your own creativity into your presentation using our vast library of icons, photos and animations, or keep it simple and clean.

  19. Simple Business Plan Template For Startup Founders

    A simple business plan template provides a proven framework to start from, concisely helps structure ideas, and shows potential investors what an organized and professional team looks like — one that can bring this business idea to market.

  20. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe your services or products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  21. 15+ Business Plan Examples to Help You Write Your Own

    Dec 15, 2021 Having a clear business plan and sharing your goals with investors and stakeholders is an important first step to starting a successful business. It's like Utibe Samuel Mbom said, "Those who work hard, work alone. Those who work smart, work as a team."

  22. 24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

    8. Panda Doc's Free Business Plan Template. PandaDoc's free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

  23. Business Plan: Create & Download

    Internal Business Plan: For startups and existing businesses. Description: focuses primarily on business strategy--metrics, goals, forecasts, budgets, and review/revision process. Since the plan is for internal use, its not necessary to include the history of the company or information about the team.

  24. Business Plan Template

    Outline and Clarify Goals. Using a business plan template can help you to define and set goals, helping you to easily pitch them when required. It can serve as an excellent touchstone, too. Identify Issues. By clearly outlining plans ahead of time, you may be able to identify issues early - whether in the planning stage or based on the reality ...

  25. How Fast Should Your Company Really Grow?

    How Fast Should Your Company Really Grow? 02. Create a System to Grow Consistently. 03. How to Succeed in an Era of Volatility. Summary. Growth—in revenues and profits—is the yardstick by ...

  26. Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

    In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print. To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template. Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to ...

  27. I Tried 10 AI Project Management Tools to See if They're Worth It

    Business $12.50 a user per month, billed annually; Best For. Brief conversations; 10. Loom. Image Source. Loom is a fantastic tool for project managers, and the AI features are time-saving and incredibly useful. The premise of Loom is simple: you can record videos with a screenshare and selfie camera view. It's very personable.

  28. Happiness researcher: The exact blueprint that will help you achieve

    Here's the exact blueprint I used: 1. Identify your 'what' and 'why'. My "what" was writing a book, and my "why" was to help people find greater happiness. One study that ...

  29. The Booming Business of Cutting Babies' Tongues

    transcript. The Booming Business of Cutting Babies' Tongues One family's story of "tongue-tie release" surgery on their newborn. 2024-02-19T06:01:22-05:00

  30. IBM Reopens Its Frozen Pension Plan, Saving the Company Millions

    Feb. 9, 2024. Traditional pension plans haven't come back. But the news from IBM might lead you to think so. Last month, IBM thawed out a defined benefit pension plan that it had frozen more ...