A business plan template helps you get your thoughts organised. It provides a guideline so that you are not stuck looking at a blank page, trying to figure out where to start. A template shows you the general layout of a standard business plan.
While there are benefits to using a business plan template, depending on your situation, it may not be the absolute best way to complete your plan. There is still going to be a lot of work involved tailoring the business plan to reflect the goals you have set for your company.
The majority of business plans leave out the balance sheet, cash flow statements, profit and loss statements, and income statements. These statistics are actually the most important part of the entire document for most investors. Breakeven and return-on-investment calculations are also sections of a good business plan.
Do not forget to factor in future expenses. The figures are only estimates but they are important benchmarks that can be used to measure the company’s progress toward achieving their goals.
You’ll also have to know enough about the process to ensure that you’re getting all the information in the right places. There are limited instructions to go along with a free template. Merging data from Excel spreadsheets into a Word document is more difficult than one would suppose. Information must be regularly updated, and this includes charts and graphs.
A pie chart can be used to show market segmentation, while bar charts are suitable for showing sales by product or service. A bar chart can also be used to show your cash flow projections illustrating the projected cash balance for 12 months. Don’t add extra graphics, like clip art, not directly relevant to the matter at hand, as if that would make a plan better. Form follows function.
Most competitive firms have a professional editor review all of their documents for accuracy. If a bank or investor reads a business plan with typos, they will start to wonder if the entrepreneur is competent enough to run a successful business.
Entrepreneurs who are writing a business plan should do their own research about the background of their potential investors and lenders. This ensures that you have as much information as possible before handing in your business plan.
The right length of the plan depends on the nature and purpose of the plan. Page count is not a good way to measure length. A 20-page business plan with dense text and no graphics is much longer than a 35-page plan broken up into readable bullet points, useful illustrations of locations or products, and business charts to illustrate important projections.
A good business plan should leave a reader a good general idea of its main contents even after only a quick skimming, browsing the main points, in 15 minutes.
Standard business plans normally run up to 40 pages of text and are easy to read, with well-placed text, formatted in bullets, illustrated by business charts, short financial tables, and financial details in appendices.
Our investor-approved business plan template has been used by businesses to secure bank loans, venture capital and angel investment, business expansion and acquisition, and even business sales. It’s a proven template that works and will help you get a jumpstart right away, saving you critical time and making the business plan process much easier.
The outline template for our business plan is simplified a bit for this page.
- Executive Summary
- Products and Services
- Mission, Vision, and Values
- Unique Selling Proposition
- Staffing and B-BBEE Criteria
- Critical Success Factors
- Company and Financing Summary
- Registered Name and Corporate Structure
- Required Funds
- Monthly Business Expenditure
- Investor Equity
- Management Equity
- Exit Strategy
- Operational Overview
- SWOT Analysis
- Market Analysis
- Macro-economic Outlook
- South Africa’s Economic Data and Trends
- Market Analysis
- Customer Profile
- Competitors Analysis
- PESTLE Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Marketing and Advertising Objectives
- Marketing Strategies
- Branding the Business
- Organisational Plan and Personnel Summary
- Corporate Organisation
- Fulfilling Customers’ Orders
- Care for Customers
- The Business Processes and Costs Thereof
- The Business Infrastructure
- Risk and Risk Mitigation
- People and Risk
- Managing the Money
- Milestone and Rollout Plan
- Rollout Plan
- Financial Plan
- Important Assumptions
- Financial Summary
- Cost Control
- Projected Financial Statements
Once you have finished writing your business plan, it is a good idea to send it out to at least three people before showing it to potential investors. Think of these three people as your board of advisors. Ask them to read the plan and look for logical gaps in the content. If one advisor recommends a change that you do not agree with, do not ignore that advice. Instead, ask the advisors for their opinions and then make a decision. Edit your plan according to their constructive criticism and thank them for their help.
If you’re looking for more than a business plan template, we’ve got plenty of additional resources to help you:
- Check out our step-by-step guide to writing a business plan. Our guide has detailed instructions and takes you through the planning process from start to finish.
- Take a look at our library of sample business plans. There are over 10 example plans in our library, so there’s a good chance you’ll find one similar to your business.
- If you’re still stuck, contact us for help with your business plan.