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Business Plan Template: Step-By-Step Guide to Write Your Business Plan

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Business-Plan-Template-HeaderThe right business plan template will allow you to quickly and easily complete your business plan.

The key is to know the questions to answer in each section of your plan.

Below is a great business plan template for you to use.

Also, at the bottom of this article, you will find a free business plan template you can download.

Here is your business plan template with each of the 10 sections you need in your business plan.

I. Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first and most important part of your business plan template.

In the Executive Summary section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

  • What does your business do?
  • What market need does your business solve?
  • What are 4-7 reasons why your business will be successful?
  • How much capital, if any, are you seeking for your business?

II. Company Analysis

In the Company Analysis section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Company Profile

  • Where are you located?
  • When were you formed?
  • What is your legal entity form (e.g, LLC, C-Corp)?

B. Company Vision/Mission Statement

  • What goals is your company trying to achieve?

C. Past Accomplishments

  • What successes has your company already achieved?

III. Industry Analysis

In the Industry Analysis section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Market Need

  • What customer need are you fulfilling?

B. Market/Industry Overview

  • In what market(s) do you compete?

C. Market/Industry Trends

  • What are the key market trends and how do they affect you?

D. Relevant Market Size

  • How large is your relevant market (the # of customers who can realistically buy from you)?

E. Unique Qualifications

  • What qualifications make your business uniquely qualified to succeed)?

IV. Customer Analysis

In the CustomerAnalysis section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Customer Needs

  • What are the key needs of your target customers?

B. Target Customer Profile

  • Who are your target customers? Give a detailed demographic profile.

V. Competitive Analysis

In the Competitive Analysis section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Direct Competitors

  • Who are your direct competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

B. Indirect Competitors

  • Who are your indirect competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

C. Competitive Advantage

  • What are your competitive advantages? Are these sustainable (can competitors emulate them)?

VI. Marketing Plan

In the Marketing Plan section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Products and Services

  • What are your products and/or services?

B. Branding and Promotions Plan

  • What is your desired brand positioning? How do you plan to promote your company’s products and/or services?

C. Distribution Plan

  • How will you sell your products and/or services to customers? Directly? Through partners/distributors? Etc.

VII. Operations Plan

In the Operations Plan section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Key Operational Processes

  • What are the key operational processes that your organization needs to accomplish on a daily basis to achieve success?

B. Business Milestones

  • What milestones will you need to accomplish over the next 1-3 years in order to achieve success?

VIII. Management Team

The Management Team section of the business plan must prove why the key company personnel are “eminently qualified” to execute on the business model. The key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Management Team Members

  • Who are the key members of your management team?
  • What are their backgrounds and bios?

B. Management Team Gaps

  • Who do you still need to hire?
  • What positions will they fill?

C. Board Members

  • Do you have a Board?
  • If so, who is it comprised of? What are their backgrounds?

IX. Financial Plan

In the FinancialPlan section of your business plan, the key questions to answer are as follows:

A. Revenue Model

  • In what ways do you generate revenues?

B. Key Assumptions

  • What key assumptions govern your financial projections?

C. Topline Projections

  • What are your topline 5-year financial projections?

D. Funding Requirements/Use of Funds

  • How much money do you need to start and/or run your business? What are the primary uses of these funds?

E. Exit Strategy

  • How will equity investors be paid? How will debt investors be paid?

X. Appendix

The Appendix is used to support the rest of the business plan. Include the following (if applicable) in the Appendix:

  • Projected Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements
  • Technology: Technical drawings, patent information, etc.
  • Product/Service Details
  • Partnership and/or Customer Letters
  • Expanded Competitor Reviews
  • Customer Lists

Business Plan Template Infographic

Below is an infographic of this article for quick reference.

Business-Plan-Template-Infographic

Recommended Slideshare

To further help you expertly complete your business plan, we put together the slide presentation below to walk you through the “10 Key Elements of a Business Plan.”

Summary

Your business plan is a critical document in the success of your business. It forces you to think through the key strategic decisions before executing on them. It makes you map out your action plan. And it ensures you have a cohesive and thorough story to tell investors or lenders from whom you might be seeking funding. Use the above template, or download this free business plan template to type up your answers and create a winning business plan!