Free Business Plan Template
One of the reasons that so many small businesses fail is that they don't do the necessary up front work to create an accurate and realistic business plan. Creating a business plan doesn't guarantee success, but the process of writing a plan is critical for any successful new business. It isn't our goal to try to tell you everything you need to know about creating a business plan. Instead, our goal is to make the process easier by providing a professionally designed business plan template that you can edit easily using Word and Excel.
Business Plan Templatefor Word & Excel, Version 1.0
Update (7/22/2016): We've added a basic break-even analysis worksheet to the companion Excel workbook.
This template provides a business plan outline with sample questions, tables, and a working table of contents. It was created for newer versions of Word and Excel (Office 2007 or later) so that you can easily change the fonts and color scheme and the file will be compatible with the mobile and web-based Word & Excel apps.
It is best to use Excel for financial statements, data tables and charts. So, we have provided a companion Excel workbook with these sample financial statements and other tables and graphs that you can copy and paste into your Word document.
The companion workbook combines many of the different spreadsheets you can find on Vertex42.com, but customized specifically for inclusion in a business plan.
Using the Business Plan Template
Editing Headings and Table of Contents
Word allows you to assign format Styles to text and paragraphs, and we've designed the template to use these Styles for defining headings, sub-headings, and figure captions.
If you want to add a new section so that the Table of Contents updates correctly, just add a new heading in the body of the document and assign it the Heading 1 or Heading 2 style.
To update the Table of Contents, go to the References tab and within the Table of Contents group of buttons, click on Update Table and then "Update entire table."
Copy/Paste From Excel to Word
For simple tables, you can use Copy/Paste (Ctrl+c / Ctrl+v) to copy a table from Excel to Word. This will typically paste the data as a formatted and editable table in Word, though none of the formulas will be functional within Word (and the table will not be linked to Excel). If you don't want the table to be editable in Word, you can "Paste as a Picture" using Paste Special or by choosing the "Picture" option when you right-click in Word to paste the table.
Important: When you paste a chart object into your business plan, make sure to "Paste as a Picture" because pasting the chart as an embedded object means that the entire spreadsheet becomes embedded in your Word document (even though what you see is only the chart).
If you want to insert a table into Word as a "Linked Object" so that when you edit Excel, the table in Word will update automatically, you may have a more difficult time preserving the formatting of the original. However, at the least the entire spreadsheet won't be embedded within your business plan Word document.
More Related Templates
Resources for Writing a Business Plan
- Write Your Business Plan at SBA.gov - Anybody starting a business should become familiar with the SBA (small business association). SBA.gov also has an online tool for creating a business plan.
- YouTube: How to Write a Business Plan - Business Wales (3 minutes) - This video offers a quick overview and tips for the essential parts of a business plan.
- YouTube: How to Write a Business Plan - Berkeley-Haas (71 minutes) - This presentation offers both the venture capitalist and entrepreneur perspective on how to write a business plan that can successfully attract funding.
- Write Your Business Plan at Entrepreneur.com - A book written by the staff of a company that should know what they are talking about.
- Sample Business Plans at bplans.com - Finding a business plan for similar businesses in your industry is a great way to get ideas for what to include in your plan. This site is a great resource for not only finding sample plans, but also for creating a business plan online using their step-by-step approach.
Other Free Business Plan Templates
- Business Planning Template Gallery at SCORE.org - This nonprofit organization (supported by the SBA) has provided expertise and free mentorship for millions of small business owners. They also have a useful collection of templates.
- Template & Tools for Business Planning at business.gov.au - This Australian Government site provides a really good business plan template for Word, including a detailed guide, questions to answer, and sample financial statements.