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Free business plan template for small businesses in 2023

SkillsCategory
8 min read
Zoe Ashbridge

A business plan is critical for any serious entrepreneur and business owner. Without a plan, you can lose your vision; it's easier to get distracted by the next new thing, and without an established WHY it can be difficult to keep going when times get tough. If business planning feels overwhelming, we've got the solution: a free business plan template for small businesses.

In this article, we're sharing our free business plan template, what we love about it and our tips for creating a business plan that will set you up for success.

Related: Discover how to start a successful business.

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What’s covered in our business plan template?

Our business plan template cover all sorts of areas of business. The best thing about this free business plan template for startups is that it acts as a guide to help you write your plan effectively — overwhelm, be gone!

Below, we describe the basics functions of each template, so that you can pick the template that best suits your needs:

Executive summary

Introduce your business plan and outline any key points. You'll include a brief overview of the business plan, its purpose, its mission statement, and a summary of notable points.

Company description

The company description is an in-depth description of the business, including values and mission statements.

Company goals

The company goals section should include specific key performance indicators and strategies, you'll be able to track your progress and celebrate your successes along the way.

Products / Services

Your business plan will outline what you're selling. You might start thinking about your target market here, too.

Editor's Note: Discover how to start an LLC in 6 steps.

Market research

Include a comprehensive evaluation of the industry and market. This section must be thorough, especially if you're presenting to investors. They will feel more comfortable investing if they believe you're well-researched and know your market. You'll want to consider an analysis of competitors, market size, customer demographics, where your product or service fits, and how you intend to close the gap on aspirational competitors to disrupt the market.

Marketing and sales strategy

In your business plan, create a roadmap for marketing and sales. You'll need to demonstrate how to reach and attract customers, including advertising, promotions, and sales tactics. During this section, you'll need to choose priorities and support why you're focusing on particular marketing or sales tactics.

Financial projections

A detailed analysis of the financials, including revenue forecasts and expense projections. You'll need to include a break-even analysis to indicate when funders can expect a return on their money. This section is critical, especially if you're starting with someone else's cash.

Appendix

Supporting documents, such as resumes of key personnel, market research data, and financial statements.

Use our free business plan template

We’ve provided our free business plan template in several formats, for your convenience. Simply download a template in your desired format, follow the instructions and compose your own text to replace the example.

Ready to get started? You got this!

Tips to create a business plan that works

Here are some of our top tips for creating a business plan that will help you.

Related: Check out our guide and discover how much does it cost to start a business.

Get very clear on what you’re saying in your plan.

When you develop your business plan, you will be focusing hard on each aspect of your business. Now is the time to focus intently on the business. If you aim for absolute clarity on your plan, you’ll thank yourself later since your business planning will help you spot potential issues that you can resolve, or plan for, now.

Conduct thorough market research.

Your market research is of utmost importance. In most cases, you need to think about your market online and off. You need to prove this research is well-thought-out so that investors are not struggling to find faults or missed opportunities.

Develop a focused marketing plan.

It’s very easy to become enamored with marketing, but you must keep yourself focused and realistic. Marketing is expensive. You need to pick your channels wisely based on data, and better to focus on a few channels well than many poorly.

Project your financials realistically.

Investors won’t take kindly to unrealistic financial projections or timelines for break-even.

Keep your language clear and concise.

Your business plan needs to use simple terms to avoid confusion.

Include an executive summary.

Your summary provides a concise overview of your business plan. Since all stakeholders must review this plan, the executive summary will be an excellent reminder of notable details.

Regularly review and update your plan.

My first business plan was a four-year plan, but within one year, I had achieved almost everything planned. After the first year, I reviewed my plan, so the business was constantly evolving.

Think hard about your why.

Your real why might not be something you put in front of your investors, but when I created my business plan, I added a page dedicated to my personal why. This slide goes beyond revenue, expenses, and logistics. I use it to keep myself motivated and inspired. My ‘why’ includes having a better work/life balance, supporting my friends and family, pursuing a business that allows me to hire new talent, and earning enough to donate to charities or mentor aspiring entrepreneurs.

Related: Check out our article on how to start an online business.

Business plan template FAQ

Is the business plan template really free?

Yes! The business plan template is free and highly customizable too. Our free plan should get you started, and you can feel free to add or remove sections to tailor the template to your business.

How do I write a business plan?

If you’re asking how to write a business plan, then starting with a free business plan template is an absolute must. Our free template will guide you through each phase required.

To write a business plan, you must outline your mission, target market, and unique value proposition. Your business plan should include market research and an understanding of who your immediate and aspirational competitors are. Also, where exactly you fit in the market and how your offering is unique.

What’s of utmost importance, especially if you want to persuade funders or investors, is demonstrating a clear understanding of your market, competitors, and financial projections. You need to be realistic but bold and knowledgeable in your approach. Investors need to feel very safe that the money they invest (and more) will return in ample time.

Why do I need a business plan to start a business?

Importantly, a business plan is there for you; it helps you articulate your vision. Whilst you may already know what you want to do with your business, taking the time to put your thoughts in writing will help you gain clarity over your thoughts and direction.

A well-thought-out business plan will help you settle your ‘why' for both an online business or offline venture. It can also help you stay on track as you grow your business by providing a framework for measuring progress and making informed decisions.

Related: Discover some online business ideas from our comprehensive guide.

Writing your business plan can also help you assess the viability of your business idea. When you create the plan for the business, you think about the details so you can highlight any roadblocks or things that won’t work before you start. This will save expensive mistakes later.

Outside of your needs as an entrepreneur, a business plan will likely be required to secure funding from investors or lenders. Without a plan, there’s no real backing to demonstrate why you need funding and how quickly it can be returned. 

When you’ve solidified your business plan, check out GoDaddy Airo and make your idea a reality online with an AI-powered website, social media posts, and more.

Disclaimer: This content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Always consult an attorney or financial advisor regarding your specific legal or financial situation. 

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While the LLC starter plan is free, there are likely some state and/or local filing fees associated with your filing which will be determined during the filing process.