What Makes a Good Business Plan and 4 Business Plan Template Examples

While every business is unique, one aspect that links many of the most successful companies is the use of a good business plan. Like a good GPS app or instructions to flat-pack furniture, a business plan can help get to a goal with as little frustration as possible.

Just like furniture instructions or travel directions, there is a great deal of difference between a bad business plan and a good business plan. One easy way to help make sure that a business plan is as useful as possible is to follow a business plan template. By using a business plan template, the owner or manager can rest assured that all important aspects of business planning are covered.

business plan written on green background

What is a Business Plan?

Simply put, a good business plan realistically explains how a company intends to make money. An organization could produce the best widgets imaginable, or a restaurant could have the most attentive wait staff, but unless there is some piece that helps to pull all of those pieces together, the company could be doomed to failure. A business plan provides exactly that guidance.

Business plans have a number of distinct parts. At the beginning, most have an executive summary that explains the business in a few short paragraphs. Following that, a description of the business, as well as analyses of the market and competition are given. After those documents lay the groundwork, a description of how the business plans to make money, as well as its projected financial sheets, is provided.

Who Uses a Business Plan?

Business founders and managers are often the first to jump to mind when thinking of people who make use of a business plan. After all, they are the ones most often interested in helping a company to grow! However, business founders are not the only people who will be interested in looking at a business plan. If a company needs financing, especially from a bank or credit union, the financial institution is going to want to know how it is going to get its money back. By examining a business plan, loan officers have another piece of information to help them decide whether or not a loan will help a company succeed.

On a similar note, potential investors often like to see a business plan. If a company is looking for the backing of many investors, whether as a publicly-traded corporation or one held by venture capitalists, those investors are going to want to see the business plan. Even if the investor is just the owner’s aunt, she will still like to see how her money is going to be used.

Ways a Business Plan Can Help Your Business

Just like a road map, a business plan can help to show the way for a company. During the planning staging before a company makes its first dollar, a business plan can help make sure that the business has a way of moving forward that ensures profitability. Since business plans require an analysis of both the market as well as projected cash flow, they provide a way of making sure that there is demand for the product of service being sold, as well as helping to determine the price of said item.

It is not just in the opening stages of running a company that a business plan shows its usefulness. As running an organization is often extremely chaotic, a business plan offers a way forward that shows exactly how a company has planned on making money. This helps to guarantee that the company follows its priorities instead of just running after a quick dollar. Because a business plan is focused on how to best make money for a company, it ideally looks at that process from a number of different angles. Principal among these is to be sure that the company has a marketing plan in place that allows it to get the word out about what it sells.

4 Business Plan Template Examples

1. Small Business Administration

One of the best places to start when searching for a business plan template is the US Government’s Small Business Administration. Its website features a number of different tips and guides, as well as templates, that are designed for whatever sector a business wishes to enter. As an added bonus, the Small Business Administration advises many banks and other investors on how to interact with newly-founded small businesses. Because of this, the Small Business Administration’s business plan templates act as an industry standard.

2. Entrepreneur Magazine’s Business Plan Templates

Entrepreneur Magazine caters heavily to those who seek to found their own businesses, so it is no surprise that they offer a number of resources when it comes to business plan templates. While some of their templates require a fee, a number of them can be downloaded for free. This includes some more specialized documents, such as nondisclosure agreements, that not every business will need. Additionally, the site has a number of other templates that are essential to founding and operating a business.

3. bplans.com

Many business plan templates may be written as generically as possible, or with a company in an entirely different sector as a model. That is not true with the business plans found at bplans.com. There are more than 500 business plan templates available for free here, across a number of different sectors. In fact, more than forty apply to restaurants and cafes alone! The business plan templates available can help demonstrate exactly what is important in an business plan for a particular industry.

4. SCORE Business Plan Builder

If viewing a business plan template as a model does not sound like the most efficient way to build a business plan, then maybe this business plan builder from SCORE can help. SCORE is a nonprofit made up of retired business executives, so they know a thing or two about business plans. This business plan template guides writers through by asking specific questions every step of the way. For those who want to be sure that everything that needs to be stated is mentioned, the thoroughness that comes with 150 questions is hard to beat.

map of a business plan

Conclusion

While writing a business plan may sound daunting, the fact of the matter is that there are a number of business plan templates out there that make the task much easier. By using them, owners can hope to help streamline their operations and shorten the path to success.

Images taken from depositphotos.com.

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