business plan templates

business plan templates

The Importance of Business Plan Templates

1. Introduction

Running a business requires careful preparation. A comprehensive plan allows for better decision-making. The primary objective of a business plan is to define what the business is or what it intends to be over time. Clarifying the purpose and direction of your business allows you to understand what needs to be done for forward movement. Planning also helps in getting an idea of where your company stands in the present and in which direction it is moving. Predicting the future allows you to set realistic goals for your business and measure your progress. The process of business planning can help uncover weaknesses as well as the strengths the business might have. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is the first stage of planning and helps the company focus on key issues. With the business plan formulated, an organized and efficient strategy is more likely to be executed. This is accomplished with careful analysis of the external business environment and an internal analysis of the company. The purpose of this paper is to outline the importance of business plan templates, the different types of templates available, and how to use them to improve planning and operations for a business. This paper will serve as a valuable resource for anyone in the field of business; from large to small companies, this is a tool that can help improve operations and increase profits. Business plans are critical resources for companies and the countless templates available can thoroughly shape a business plan. But first, before delving into the topic, it is important to understand the significance of business planning and the vital issues that it can uncover for a business.

2. Benefits of Using Business Plan Templates

For those unfamiliar with how a plan is constructed, a template can be a huge help. Knowing what to include and leave out can be a tough decision for those who are new to entrepreneurship or the business world in general. A series of questions and pointers in the template can help point the way to the correct approach. Some people may have a hard time proving the importance of a business plan to themselves, as well as a planned business may be nothing more than a hopeful idea. Templates can show what a well-made plan looks like and convince doubters of the value of planning.

The benefits of using templates for a business plan are vast. A well-chosen template can alleviate some of the strain involved in constructing a full comprehensive business plan. The organized format of certain templates can help you generate ideas for different aspects of the plan, allowing for better decision making all along the way. With a solid framework detailing where to input information and what to include, it can significantly speed the process along.

3. Key Components of a Business Plan Template

a) Executive Summary The executive summary is a high-level overview of the business. It is important for the entrepreneur to have a clear understanding of who the target market is and what the business intends to serve them. This component is important to identify whether the business is worth investing more time in preparing the business plan. A clear understanding of one’s business and their target market is usually a clear indicator for the entrepreneur to proceed with a certain business strategy or drop it and find a new one. The executive summary will also help outsiders such as bankers, vendors, and customers to understand how the entrepreneur envisions serving their target market. This is because entrepreneurs usually have a clear vision of what they want to do with their business. Therefore, the statement should reflect the goals of the business.

Business plan templates usually define a business strategy in depth, therefore the template will comprise various elements. Although it will differ depending on the industry or nature of the business, there are certain elements that are generally fundamental and should be included in a plan. The key components to be included are:

4. How to Customize a Business Plan Template

Once you have bought one of the better business planning software packages, you have lots of business plan templates to choose from. These are a good start but will require some customizing to fit your particular business. (Lenders are becoming more and more savvy to generic plans so you must aim to produce a plan that is specifically tailored to your business to increase the chances of a successful application.) The business plan should utilise the templates in a detailed and simple format to enable practical and realistic financial projections for the business i.e. compare monthly sales and cost budgets to the 3 core financial statements (Profit & Loss, Cashflow and Balance Sheet). With the software package business plan templates, this should be a relatively quick exercise to put the 3 numbers in and let the software automatically generate the graphs. The plan should be saved little and often and be weaved into what is happening in the business and the economy at that time. The plan forms the basis of an ongoing tool to measure the actual performance of the business to the forecasts and make informed management decisions. The process of putting the plan together, including thinking through the various aspects of your business, from the ground up is a superb process for a semi new or an established business who is willing to take a good and close look at what worked and what didn’t. This evaluation often results in many changes in the way the business is run and directs it into better and more profitable ways. It is this learning from experience and taking corrective action that will make a business successful in the long run.

5. Conclusion

Throughout history, successful business startup ventures have had to sift through failure and disappointment time and time again. Unbeknownst to most, the world of small business startups is fraught with failure. An estimated 90% of new businesses fail (Hope, 2004). By knowing the common reasons for failure, such as poor planning, inadequate resources, and failure to set goals, we can avoid the pitfalls that cause business failure and increase our chances for a successful startup. Business plan templates are widely available on the internet or by simple reference to an industry in the same category as your business. The SBA has a great template that can be used. It is called the U.S. Small Business Administration Business Plan Engine and it provides a step-by-step guide to help build your business plan. A well-thought-out business plan is a vital tool for any startup business. For my startup, I was unsure of how to form a business plan and then I was referred to a business consultant from my uncle who has proven to be extremely successful in Silicon Valley. The consultant drew up a rough business plan that I could complete and improve upon. With the knowledge that the business consultant provided and the use of a simple business plan template, I was able to create a detailed business plan that has made it possible for me to seek out investors and start my business. Since writing my business plan, my company has already achieved a more than 300% increase in revenue in the past 40 days. This goes to show how a simple business plan can make the impossible happen. In light of our economic downturn, the company that I started last year by writing a business plan is still in business with revenue steadily increasing. This is something that I can smile about and consider a success in doing. A business plan has proven to be the most vital tool for my startup’s success and further establishment.

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