A Guide on How to Write a Business Plan: Tips, Examples, and Free Templates
Integrity and Accuracy
Poet John Greenleaf Whittier once said, “As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” This statement is so true, especially when it comes to writing your vision and mission statement and your business plan.
Your plan can be short or long but it must be realistic, honest and accurate; business plan readers will spot erroneous data or errors right away as they are experts on reading these plans. Because most plans are utilized to obtain loans, funding, grants or investors, swaying from reality is never a good idea—especially if you want to convince the reader why your business will succeed.
Business owners can hire professional organizations to write their plans for them. However, a report in Forbes Magazine quotes venture capitalist expert Jim Casparie: “The price tag (for a business plan) could run from $5,000 to $40,000 including market research, legal and financial expertise.”
Bright Hub realizes most business owners and those interested in buying or starting a business can’t afford to spend any extra money—even to write a business plan, so here we offer a collection of articles on how to accomplish this task including important elements it must contain. We also include free forecasting templates you’ll need as exhibits for your plan to ensure its purpose achieves what you want and need.
Tips on Where to Begin
Before you begin to tackle the actual writing of your plan, there are some business plan basics you should review. First do you have a vision and mission statement and do you know the difference between the two? Here, we offer some of must-have basics on business plans in general, the value of business plans and the top mistakes business owners make when writing a plan.
- Learn to Write Vision and Mission Statements to Define Your Business
- Business Plan Basics for Newbies
- What Is the Real Value of a Business Plan?
- Main Elements You Need in a Business Plan
- Business Plans Are Not Marketing Plans
- Different Perspectives on Business Planning
- How to Write a Simple Business Plan
- Top Mistakes Made in Business Plans
- What Is a Yearly Business Plan?
Exhibits, Forecasting and More
Beyond the actual writing contained within your plan that focuses on what your business is on track to accomplish, you will need to create exhibits such as an opening day balance sheet, income and expense statements or forecasts, and small business budgets.
Next up in our library are tips and advice on how to create these exhibits with 100 percent free templates you can download and use instantly.
- How to Estimate Your Opening Balance Sheet (Includes a Free Template)
- Steps to Forecast Initial Sales
- How to Create a Sales Forecast in Excel
- Tips on Sales Forecasting Formulas
- Top Three Sales Forecasting Methods
- Cash Flow Proformas (Includes a Free Template)
- Free Income and Expense Statement
- Free Startup Cash Flow Forecast
- Forecast Sales Revenues and Expenses Using a Free Template
Specific Business Plan Examples
Using examples is a good idea for writing the perfect business plan. For this purpose, our Bright Hub expert writers have creates many specific business plans to help you get an idea on the outline and how the plan should flow.
From auto body shops to candy stores and more, here are some great examples to aid you in getting started on your plan.
- Auto Body Shop Business Plan Example
- A Candy Store Plan for Sweet Success!
- Business Plans for Non-Profits
- Wedding Photographer Planning With Examples
- A Business Plan for Crafts and Gifts
- Writing International Business Plans
- Film Production Business Plan
- Plan Your Childcare Business
Enticing Lenders and Investors
Once you have your plan written it serves many purposes. It can be used as an annual tool to compare projections to actual financials or it can be used to seek out lenders, investors and even venture capitalist.
How do you go about presenting your business plan, and what do those interested in your business look for in a plan? Next up, we offer some tips and advice on these topics.
- Why the Executive Summary Is the First Thing Investors Read
- What Banks and Lenders Expect
- Impressing Lenders and Investors
- A Newbie’s Guide to Impressing Venture Capitalists
- Finding Venture Capitalists Interested In Your Business
- Types of SBA Loans and What the SBA Looks For
- Finding Angel Investors for Non-Profits
- Difference Between Angel Investors and Venture Capital Funding
- How to Write a Cover Letter for Angel Investors or VCs
Bonus Tips and Software Recommendations
We finish up our guide to everything you need to know about business plan writing with some extra tips and advice not offered above, including software you can purchase to ensure the plan you write comes out in the correct format and will serve its purpose whether it be for investors or lenders.
- A Guide to Buying a Business – A Must Read
- Business Plan Pro Software: Write the Perfect Plan with Ease
- A Review of Three Business Plan Software Packages
- Marketing Plan Formats
- Sample Marketing Plan Budget
- Startup Business Budgets: What to Include
- One-Stop Guide to Business Budgeting and Forecasting
- Sample Small Business Budget
- Non-Profit Business Budgets
Here at Bright Hub, we know you may have a question not answered here in our collection of articles on all the ins and outs of a business plan. If so, please drop us a comment with your question and we’ll find the answer for you as quickly as possible.
Images from Sxc.hu under the Royalty Free License
Los Angeles Weather / tpacific
Crane, Mary – Forbes Magazine – “Ten Things Every Good Business Plan Must Have” May 9 2007.