Bplans offers more than 500 free sample business plans in a wide variety of industries. If you’re looking for a tool to walk you through writing your own business plan step by step, we recommend LivePlan, especially if you’re seeking a bank loan or outside investment and need to use an SBA-approved format.
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How to use sample business plans to help you write your own
How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you’ve never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you’re aiming for before you get started.
Here’s how to get the most out of a sample plan:
Choose a sample plan from a similar type of company
You don’t need to find a sample business plan that’s an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match exactly to the plans in our gallery. But, you don’t need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that’s related to the type of business you’re starting.
For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you’d want to include in your restaurant’s business plan are likely to be very similar.
Use a sample as a guide
Every startup and small business is unique, so you’ll want to avoid copying a sample plan word for word. It just won’t be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business—and getting funding if you need it.
One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going to through the process. When you sit down to write, you’ll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market, and any market analysis or research you’ll need to do to be successful.
You’ll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you’ll need to meet. Looking at a sample plan’s financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don’t assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.
If you’re looking for more resources to help you get started, this guide on how to write a business plan is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template, or get started right away with LivePlan.
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document
Think about business planning as something you do often, rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool
Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don’t. For that to be true for your company, you’ll think of part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.
If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you’re not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it’s one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.
Ready to get started?
Now that you know how to use a sample business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it’s time to find the right one.
Use the search bar below to get started and find the right match for your business idea.