How to Write a Startup Business Plan Template
So you have a great business idea, and you have been diligently planning your business, but it is mostly (or entirely) in your head. You realize the importance of putting your plan on paper, but you have never written anything resembling a business plan and have no idea where to start.
You have looked at countless startup business plan templates online, but they do not seem to agree with each other on format or flow, so how do you know you have found a good one?
The best startup business plan template defines the steps necessary to launch a new business. A professional business plan consultant is uniquely positioned to help you devise a list of goals that will clearly lay out each milepost from the start of your business to its successful operation. As a start-up plan is part of the foundation of your new business, and a business plan writer will provide the expertise you need to get financing for a successful launch.
A good startup business plan template should include, at a minimum, the sections that are described below. While the Executive Summary is usually the first section (aside from a Cover Page, Table of Contents, and possibly any legal disclaimers), it should be noted that there is no absolute right or wrong way to write a business plan, and the remainder of these sections do not have to be in any particular order.
The best startup business plan template will contain:
The Executive Summary is a condensed version of all of the information throughout the rest of the business plan. It is basically your business plan what a trailer is for a movie. Because of its purpose, there should be little or no information in your Executive Summary that is not conveyed elsewhere in your business plan.
One-time Expense Summary
This may more properly be called a “Start-up Summary” or an “Expansion Summary,” depending on the stage of your business. Regardless of what you call it, this section should detail how any funding you are seeking will be allocated, including how much will be allocated to each product or service you need to get started.
If your business is merely a strategic plan (i.e., you are not seeking funding) or you do not anticipate a substantial amount of one-time expenses in the near future, then you can probably leave this section out.
Product & Service Description
This section is where you describe the products and/or services that you will offer. If you are offering a cutting-edge technology that your readers are likely not familiar with, then you should explain in detail how your customers would use it, the benefits of using it, and how you are pricing it. If your business will be more conventional, such as a restaurant or coffee shop, then it probably does not need as elaborate of an explanation, but it would be prudent to include any signature items on your menu.
This section is where you describe your industry. It should include information about the size of the industry, what the growth trends have been in recent years, and ideally, what the growth trends are projected to be in future years. If your business is one where you serve a local area and customers need to come to your establishment, then information about your location, along with the demographics in your vicinity, would be prudent. If you are serving customers remotely and in a much larger geographical area, then you can probably leave out the location and demographics.
This section is where you describe your primary competitors. If the answer is not obvious, then really think about this one. Contrary to what you might think, if you allege that you have no competition, a potential lender or investor will likely be put off by this claim because they will think one of three things: either you have not done sufficient research, you are deliberately misleading them, or if there really are no competitors, it is because there is no market. You might also consider direct versus indirect competitors.
Companies like Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, and Domino’s are direct competitors because they are all pizza companies with very similar menu items. McDonald’s, on the other hand, would be an indirect competitor to these companies because while its menu offering is substantially different, it still serves the same purpose of providing a convenient way to get a prepared meal.
This section is where you explain how you stand out from your competition. Are you able to beat them on price? Do you offer a premium value that justifies a higher price? Do you or anyone on your management team have an extraordinary amount of experience in your field? Do you have a prime location? These are possible advantages to consider but not a comprehensive list.
SWOT is an anagram for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are more for comparing yourself to your competitors, while Opportunities and Threats are more external factors. For example, suppose you want to start a brewery.
If your beer selection is smaller than other nearby breweries, then that would be a weakness. However, if any politicians or organizations were to begin lobbying to raise the drinking age to 30, that would be a threat, not a weakness, because it would affect everyone in your industry, not just you.
Realistically, your business cannot be everything to everyone. Consider Walmart and Target. Walmart usually has lower prices, but Target usually has wider aisles, more clerks on the floor to assist you, and more checkout lanes open for quicker turnarounds.
To use your advertising resources most efficiently, you need to assess the total addressable market and then assess the segments of your market most likely to buy from you. You might consider your Competitive Advantages and then try to discern which customers would likely appreciate those advantages the most.
What tactics will you use to reach your target market? Will they be receptive to traditional media outlets, such as print, radio, or television? Or are they likely to spend more time using social media on their computers and phones, thereby warranting a pay-per-click model, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads?
This section is where you detail the professional background of yourself and any other key owners or managers in your business. A good way to show this information would be in paragraph form, flowing similar to an “About the Author” section of a book.
A potential lender or investor will want to know why your team has a better chance at making your operation successful than any John or Jane Doe on the street, and this section of your plan will be the best opportunity to answer that question.
This section is where you show how much revenue you expect to generate, what expenses you expect to incur, and what you expect your profit to be. A sound financial model should, at a minimum, include Income Statements, Cash Flow Statements, and Balance Sheets that project three years or more into the future. Many lenders and investors will want to see five years, as well as the first year being broken into monthly projections.
Trying to create all of these sections for your business plan may seem overwhelming. Just remember that a business plan is intended to be a roadmap that can be adjusted as you monitor the results of your business, so none of this is etched in stone. However, if you do not have at least some idea about the things mentioned in this article before you start your business, then you will likely have no direction and be even more overwhelmed.
A good business plan consultant should be equipped to research and format data that will outline projected sales, profits and losses, cash flow, and the balance sheet. The business plan should include any tables that are industry-specific or necessary, and close with appendices that outline projections for the first year of operations.
A professional business plan writer can create an easy to follow and implement the best startup business plan template that you can confidently take to investors and loan officers. It will stand up under even the most rigorous scrutiny.
When it comes to starting your business, the advice and expertise that can be obtained from a business consultant are invaluable. Whether the purpose of the start-up plan is to help secure bank financing or to attract investors, the investment of a professionally written start-up plan is essential.