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500+ Free business plan examples
Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 500 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to guide you through writing your own plan. If you're looking for an intuitive tool that walks you through the plan writing process, we recommend LivePlan . It includes many of these same SBA-approved business plan examples and is especially useful when applying for a bank loan or outside investment.
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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 2023.
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
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 .
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How to write your business plan cover page
When you think of putting together your business plan , the business plan cover page may not be the first thing that comes to mind. While it’s traditionally one of the last sections you create in a business plan, it’s one of the most important.
Definition: What is a business plan cover page?
The cover page of a business plan is used to give an overview of all the key information of your business. This includes your company name, logo, address, and any other information that may define your business. It's the first page of your plan, so it should look professional, visually pleasing, and informative.
When potential investors or banks read a business plan, their first impression is the cover page—but don’t overthink it. A business plan cover page is meant to be simple and straightforward, with some important contact information and, more importantly, your logo.
Use this breakdown to find out what the purpose of your cover page is, which elements you need to include, and how to structure it to maximize your impact:
What is the purpose of a cover page?
Your cover page exists to communicate what the enclosed document is and to provide the necessary information for a reader to contact you about your business.
The appearance and quality of a business plan cover page will set the tone for your business plan’s content, so make sure it’s visually appealing, free of errors, and concise.“ Simple, clean and powerful are the three goals of a strong business plan cover,” suggest the experts at Growthink . Don’t clutter your cover page with details about how your business will operate—save those important details for the executive summary .
What should you include on a business plan cover page?
To keep it simple, your business plan cover page should include:
- Document title
- Business name
- Business address and contact information
- Business plan completion date
- Confidentiality statement
How should you format a business plan cover page?
Once you know what information belongs in this section, all that remains now is to organize it. If you need some further guidance, these downloadable templates can streamline the process of drafting a cover page—and the rest of your business plan, too.
1. Company logo
Add a high-resolution thumbnail of your logo at the top of the cover page. This will help establish a brand identity and allow readers to connect visually to the business right from the start.
Hot tip: people are 89% more likely to remember your logo if you put it in the top left corner.
Give the logo some space and then include the words “Business Plan” in a large, bold font. You can also frame the title as “Three–” or “Five–Year Business Plan,” if you intend to make those kinds of financial projections in the document.
3. Business name
Beneath the title, write your company name in a bold font. This should be the most noticeable and prominent feature on the page, so choose a large typeface.
4. Tagline (optional)
This part is optional, but you can also include a catchy slogan or motto that describes your company and what you do.
5. Address and contact information
Under the company name, include your business’s physical address and website if you have one. Provide the details necessary for interested parties to contact you, such as a phone number and email address.
It’s also helpful to include your name as the business owner and the names of any partners or executive officers so that potential investors know where to direct their inquiries.
6. Date of completion
Below the contact information, write the year (or year and month) in which this business plan was finalized and issued. If you’re including the month, it’s a good idea to update it throughout the year as you send out your business plan so readers don’t assume it’s outdated.
7. Confidentiality Statement
At the bottom of the page, include a sentence to the effect of:
“This document contains confidential and proprietary information created by [business name]. This document is issued exclusively for informational purposes and should not be reproduced without the consent of [business name].”
Adding this confidentiality statement offers a protective measure against the disclosure of your business idea , according to this cover page guide .
Send invoices, get paid, track expenses, pay your team, and balance your books with our free financial management software.
Cover page design
Now it’s time for the finishing touches: the actual design of your cover page. Your business plan’s cover page gives the first impression of your business, so your company logo, fonts, and brand colors should all work together to make people want to read more.
90% of a customer’s impression of your business comes from the brand colors you choose, so it’s important to choose colors that represent your business’s personality and elicit the right emotions from your readers.
Don’t know where to start? Grab a pen and paperand write down three emotions you want your customers to feel when they think of your brand. Now you can brainstorm some colors that represent those emotions. For example, you might choose blue if your product is associated with reliability, or yellow if your product is supposed to make your clients feel happy. It’s safer to only choose 2-3 colors , including black, for your color scheme.
You can also analyze the competition and choose colors that help you stand out. Canva has more detailed instructions on how to create your brand color palette .
When it comes to fonts, it’s best practice to stick to one type of typeface, such as serif or sans serif . It’s also important to choose fonts that are simple, easy to read, and represent your brand.
Serif fonts give off the impression that your brand is trustworthy and dependable, and work great for more traditional businesses, like law practices. “Serif fonts have been widely used in books, newspapers, and magazines, which is why they remind us of more classical, formal and sophisticated themes—think of Old English and Roman scripture,” Robyn Young, founder of branding agency robyn young & co, told Canva .
But if you’re going for a more contemporary and youthful feel, then sans serif is the way to go. “Brands that want a modern aesthetic that scales well at different sizes and is easy to read on screens are going to choose sans serif for their main branding elements,” said Young .
When it comes to choosing a logo, simplicity is key. Try to create something that represents your brand and speaks to your audience without being too busy (in other words: white space is your friend).
It’s also important to remember to be practical: your logo should look good in any medium, size, color, and even time period. Beyond your business plan cover page, you’ll need it for your social media, marketing material, or labels.
Business plan cover page examples
To further illustrate the structure and format of a business plan cover page, we’ve compiled a few cover page template examples. The first example from officetemplatesonline is simple but attractive and effectively emphasizes pertinent information. The next cover page example is from a fictional clothing store . They usea pop of color to instantly tell you about their brand personality.
Keep your business plan cover page simple
As you prepare to write your business plan , remember to keep your cover page simple and concise. With your logo, business name, and contact information, you’ll introduce the reader into your business plan quickly and easily—and set yourself up for success as a result.
Just don’t forget to proofread and keep an eye out for typos!
Let our How to Start a Business Playbook guide the way.
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.
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Business plans help you run your business. A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.
In addition to your high-level hopes and dreams, a strong business plan outlines short-term and long-term goals, budget and whatever else you might need to get started.
A business plan is a document that contains the operational and financial plan of a business, and details how its objectives will be achieved. It serves as a road map for the business and can be used when pitching investors or financial institutions for debt or equity financing.
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A business plan is a promotional document that undergoes constant changes as the business evolves. Another crucial detail to remember when you create a business plan is to know your target audience. This could be your investors, customers, or other stakeholders.
Step 1: Create a free company logo. Your logo is your brand’s visual identity. All our logo design templates are professionally created and, more importantly, they’re available for free. Customize and download high-resolution files of your logo that …
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.
Design a business logo for free in minutes. Make a custom business logo for free to use across marketing material, websites, business cards, and more. Create business logos with free templates from Adobe Express. Get inspired and save time with expertly designed templates to get you started.
If you're a start-up business or amidst a rebrand and need a new logo, you can easily create one with some help from Canva’s free templates. Start from scratch and let your imagination run wild. Be inspired by logo design ideas for businesses from our logo examples.
Give the logo some space and then include the words “Business Plan” in a large, bold font. You can also frame the title as “Three–” or “Five–Year Business Plan,” if you intend to make those kinds of financial projections in the document. 3. Business name. Beneath the title, write your company name in a bold font.