Business Plan Examples, Templates & Guide For Small Businesses

business plan examples samples templates guide

Looking for business plan examples (with templates), samples, and a full guide? Then you’re in the right place. When researching how to start your own small business, the first challenge you will have is the business plan and how to write it. It is surprisingly difficult to find details online for writing a simple business plan, with examples, samples, and ready-to-fill templates. So, that’s where we come in!

We’ve amassed information on business plans for small businesses including the business plan outline, where we will walk you step by step through each section.

What is a Business Plan?

Before we jump in it’s important to know what the purpose of the business plan is and how it benefits your small business. At the moment, your small business is just an idea in your head. This is a great start but before you get it down on paper, it’s just that, an idea.

business plan example header

Your business plan outlines what you want to achieve with your business. It helps you formalize the steps you need to take. And just as importantly it helps you to validate the viability of your business. Think of it as a roadmap towards getting your business up and running that includes milestones, strategy, steps, resources needed, financial objectives, and more.

What’s more, is that a business plan is important from an external perspective too. It shows that your budding business is legitimate and can even help you secure investments from partners, banks, etc.

Do I Really Need a Business Plan?

It’s a valid question, and while there is technically nothing stopping you from starting a business without a plan, it adds unnecessary risk. Having a plan and roadmap in place means that you can gauge your progress, determine if you are on track for success, and if necessary make adjustments to your business or planning.

In fact, statistics show that of businesses that survive for 5 years or more, 70% have a business plan. So, from a survivorship perspective, having a business plan in place appears to help. Additionally, businesses that have business plans have a 7% higher chance of growth than those without.

So, having that business plan in place can help your new small business thrive.

Business Plan Outline

Now onto the business plan outline. The business plan may be overwhelming so it makes sense to break it down into sections. If after reading through this outline it still seems a bit much for you, you can skip further down and start off with a more simple one page business plan.

But, even a fully formed business plan for your small business is simple enough to put together using our guide below.

Just want the Business Plan Templates? Jump down to the template & example Business Plan files now:

1. The Executive Summary

The executive summary is just as it sounds. A very high-level description of the business, what it will offer, and what your expectations are. Think of this as the cliff notes for starting your small business. If you have your business name nailed down include it here, if not don’t worry as we have an extensive guide on choosing the perfect business name, complete with a business name generator.

Generally, when writing an executive summary for your business plan, you want to answer the following questions:

  • Who are you and what is your business? Describe concisely what your business is, your brand, the vision, and the positive aspects of what you will provide (products and/or services).
  • What will the reader learn from the rest of the business plan? A brief summary of the business plan as a whole.
  • What are the highlights? Sell yourself and your new business. Note the exciting, profitable, and creative aspects of your new business. Make the reader want to read on.

2. Company & Ownership

This section is a deeper dive into your new business and if relevant, yourself. Make sure to include the following and frame your business, its objectives, and overall what it will become before getting into the meat of the business plan:

  • Business structure: Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, LLC, etc?
  • Business information: What you will sell or provide. In short, a sentence on how your business actually earns money. What industry it will operate in?
  • Business location/facilities: If applicable, where the business will be based. If any facility, building, or land is required/involved.
  • Objectives: What are you wanting to achieve? Normally this is a financial statement of earning x amount per year in revenue.
  • Owner information: Information about you. What makes you qualified to run this business? Where did you come up with the idea? What is special about you in relation to business acumen, and specifically, this new business?
  • Additional staff: If relevant, any partners, staff, etc., and the role(s) they will play in your new small business.

3. Market Analysis

Prior to this step, you will need to do some research. Make sure you understand your industry, the challenges, your demographics, etc. Looking at your direct competitors is a good way to uncover this information fairly easily. You can also enhance this with wider statistics you can find online.

Market analysis business plan
Market analysis can be as simple as researching online or reviewing in-depth reports on the industry.

Formalize what you’ve learned about your business domain, target demographics, and any trends. Also consider your market size, specifically where and how you will operate. Most small businesses operate locally but if your business will be online, then this can be nationally or even globally.

  • Market reach: Local, national, global. Consider mentioning any plans to expand i.e. move towards national markets after 5 years.
  • Market statistics: Look to find information on how much people spend on similar services, overlapping services or products, or with exact competitors.
  • Target market segmentation: Your demographics. So who will be your customers in relation to age, income, sex, background, job, hobbies etc?
  • Identification of market trends & opportunities: What is trending in your business niche currently, and what do you believe will be trending in the future? This can also bleed into the next section on competitive analysis.
  • SWOT analysis (of your new business): This is the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats inherent in your business/market.

4. Competetive Analysis

In the market analysis section, we mentioned using your competitors to help inform you about the market. This section is a much bigger expansion on this. In order to fill this in you need to collect some in-depth information about your competitors. Scroll down to see our competitor finder tool and competitor analysis template.

Once you have our free tools/templates ready, then fill in the section:

  • Competitor range: Local, national, global, and online.
  • Key competition: Named competitors and the degree and type of competition that they represent.
  • Link to your competition analysis spreadsheet: Use our competition analysis template to collect competitor information.
  • SWOT analysis of each major competitor (optional): If you want to really dig into the analysis (which we argue you should), then producing another SWOT analysis, this time of your competitors can help trigger ideas and assist with the risk section later in the business plan.
  • Unique selling points: What puts you ahead of your competitors? How/why do you have the competitive edge? This could be as simple as lower prices, or as complex as niche/specialist services and products.

Competitor Finder Tool

To make things easier, we’ve created a handy competitor finder tool below. Just enter the location you want to search and the business type (such as dog walkers, gardeners, printers, etc.). Once you hit the button all of the competitors in your area will be plotted on a handy Google Maps interface. You can even see their reviews directly in-page.

Download the competitor analysis spreadsheet directly below:

Download Our Free Competitor Analysis Spreadsheet

We've created a handy competitor analysis spreadsheet for you to record your competitor evaluation information. Just click the link and fill in the details!

Competitor Analysis Template Screenshot

Download Excel TemplateCopy in Google Sheets

You can refer to your competitor analysis spreadsheet in your business plan and even embed a copy of it inside. This gives the reader direct access to the underlying research that the claims /information in your business plan are built upon. 

5. Products, Services & Pricing

Now we’re really into the meat of the business plan. The combination of a business’s products, services, and offerings is what makes it or breaks it. Here you want to give as complete of an overview as possible about what you will offer and at what price.

  • Product/service overview: A general summary of what you will offer at a high level. Such as “gardening services”, “greeting cards”, “stationary” etc. Will you have packages or bundles etc.?
  • Pricing: If you have the details ironed out, add in the main variations in products and services you’ll offer and what price they will be available at. Keep this simple in a tabular format if possible.
  • Pricing strategy: If you will be going in with low prices to entice customers, then raise over time, mention it here. If you’re going for a luxury feel and higher prices, similarly it belongs here.

6. Marketing & Sales

What good is a business if it is not marketed correctly? This is an important section that deals with getting your name out there in terms of advertising and promotion. It also deals with how you will sell your product. Not in terms of how you will physically sell it, but how you convince customers to purchase your products or services.

  • Selling points: What characteristics of your products, services, or business as a whole will you leverage from a marketing perspective?
  • Promotion: How will you let people know about your new small business? How will you entice them to use your business? Flyers, local advertising, online advertising, word of mouth, discounts, refer-a-friend deals, social media, etc.
  • Storefront: What is the entry point to your business? This can be a physical location, an online store (or business page), a kiosk, or even simply a phone number.
  • Seasonal opportunities/threats(optional): If your business can leverage seasonal opportunities such as Christmas, Easter, etc. describe how your marketing plan will take advantage of this. On the other side of the coin, how will you survive seasonal dips that do not mesh well with your business?

7. Operations Plan

This section needs to cover the major considerations of the “day-to-day” of the business. It will cover suppliers, production, transport, facilities, staffing, technologies, partners, and more. Don’t be concerned if you can’t fill in every section here. We’ve been thorough and not every business has the need for certain aspects of the operations plan.

  • Daily operations and workflow: At a high level what will the day-to-day look like for your business? What is the input, what is processed, and what is the output? This could be as simple as the customer requires gardening services -> transport staff + equipment to customer -> staff provide gardening services.
  • Suppliers: These can be suppliers of raw materials you use to create products, or suppliers of equipment, machinery, etc.
  • Production: How you will create your product. You can mention very high-level costs here.
  • Equipment: What equipment is needed? Will it be purchased, or rented? Again, optionally include costs here.
  • Shipping: If a product needs shipped, how does this happen at a high level? Cost implications?
  • Facilities: Where your operation will be run from? This can be in multiple locations.
  • Storage/warehousing: If you need to store products, inventory, equipment, raw materials, etc. you will need a storage location.
  • Security: How will you physically secure your stock, equipment, etc.?
  • Technology: What technology will you utilize? This can be for customer orders, your website, taking bookings, designs, printing, and more.

8. Organizational Structure

For many small businesses, this will simply be the owner’s name, role, and responsibilities. But it can also include partners and key staff members. If there is more than you, as the owner then you can also branch off into compensation (salary) and management and hiring practices.

org chart structure

  • Roles and responsibilities: of key team members.
  • Management structure: Organizational chart and reporting hierarchy
  • Recruitment plan: At a high level how will you recruit staff and retain staff?
  • Employee development strategies: How will you ensure that your staff can do their job and that they progress in their career aspirations?
  • Compensation and benefits: Salaries, additional benefits, etc. (if any).

9. Risk Assessment & Mitigation

This is a difficult section as you need to think about any and all negative outcomes. You need to think about risks, how to prevent them from coming to fruition, and how to mitigate them if they do. Additionally, you need to look towards covering yourself against liability and ensuring you don’t run afoul of any legal obligations.

  • Risks/Challenges: Identification of potential risks and challenges. A risk register can be produced here.
  • Mitigation: How you will mitigate the above risks.
  • Contingency: Plans for emergencies or unexpected events
  • Insurance coverage: For liability and other risks.
  • Legal compliance and/or obligations: This can be as simple as handling customer data/GDPR or as complex as ensuring that you have the correct permits, licenses, etc. to operate.

10. Financial Plan

You’ll need to determine how much you estimate you will earn after you have set up and are running your new business. Factor in your pricing from above, and get realistic figures in your head in terms of weekly sales for example, and extrapolate from there.

Remember to factor in taxes, and very importantly any expenses.

  • Sales forecasts: At least for the first year.
  • Expenses: salaries, marketing, insurance, supplies, etc.
  • Pricing analysis: Based on ensuring a healthy profit per sale. Make sure you have the capability to earn a profit within the constraints of your market!
  • Initial capital: How much do you estimate you will need to get your business off the ground?
  • Investment needs/opportunities: Will you need additional external investment? Do you have any existing opportunities or options here? High-level information on business loans can go here.
  • Financial spreadsheets: Links to any spreadsheets dealing with your financial calculations and/or projects to back up with cold hard figures.

11. Business Plan Summary

And now just finish off with a summary. Also, include a forward-thinking vision of the future of your business. Summarise the highlights, the takeaways and really sell your business idea. Leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Business Plan Full Example Templates

It’s all well and good having a summary of what you need to add to each section of your business plan but it can still be hard to picture. That’s where business plan templates, samples, and examples come in.

Below we’ve created complete business plans with fictional (yet very real!) examples. They’re great to get an understanding of what should be included, the language to use, etc. You can even just modify it to meet your needs instead of rewriting the whole plan.

1. Business Plan Template MS Word/Google Docs

This template is the tried and true, traditional approach with a full business plan example/sample in Microsoft Word or Google Docs format depending on your needs.

It covers a fictional, yet very example of a cat & dog boarding kennel business called Cozy Paws. Don’t worry if your business is not in this industry because the approach is a generic one that will apply to all businesses regardless of area, industry or sector.

Download Our Free Business Plan Example/Sample Document

We've created a complete business plan example/sample for you to refer to or use to create a business plan for your small business.

Simple, comprehensive and easy to follow.

business plan full example

Download MS Word TemplateCopy in Google Docs

2. One Pager Business Plan Example/Template/Sample

If you’re just wanting a quick business plan sample, template, or example we have our convenient one-pager business plan below.

It’s great to get the plan for your business across very quickly, but at some point, it should be supplemented with a complete business plan. Think of this as “step 0” to get your plan off the ground.

Download Our Free One Pager Business Plan Example/Template

We've created a handy one-pager business plan example/sample for you to refer to or use to create a business plan for your small business.

Simple, comprehensive and easy to follow.

business plan example one pager

Download MS Word TemplateCopy in Google Docs

Conclusion

Crafting that perfect business plan can be difficult, but with our examples, samples, and full outline guide above it becomes a breeze.

Remember that most successful businesses have a business plan in place. It makes sure that your vision is solid, that you’ve thought through all financial implications, and that you’re going to actively monitor and mitigate risks.

Write your business plan today with our example and sample documents and get your small business up and running in no time!

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