While the thought of scrawling down your brilliant business ideas on a cocktail napkin may be romantic, it's certainly not practical. With the help of a real business plan, you'll be able to set clear goals, organize your thoughts and clarify your vision.
To help you get inspiration for your own business plan, we found five resources where you can see business plan examples and templates from real entrepreneurs and investors.
5 Places to Get Business Plan Templates from Real Businesses
Ready to take your business plan from amateur to pro? Start by browsing real-life business plan examples and templates from these five sites.
When it comes to business plan examples, Bplans is undoubtedly one of the best sources available.
First started in 1995, it's since grown to become a mammoth database of real-world business plans from a broad array of industries and niches. Just a few of those include:
Accounting, insurance and compliance
Children and pets
Fashion and clothing
Consulting, advertising and marketing
Farm and agriculture
Fine art and crafts
Real estate and rentals
Retail and ecommerce
Technology and communication
Each category is broken down into smaller sub-categories so you can find the type of plan that best aligns with your business. Click on a plan that sounds intriguing and you'll be presented with a real, fully-fledged business plan:
With such an incredible variety of real-world business plan examples to choose from, you're sure to find one that's useful to you.
While it may not be quite as comprehensive as Bplans, SmartBusinessPlan does offer 10 real business plan examples from various categories. And if your small business belongs to one of those categories, then SmartBusinessPlan is a positively invaluable tool.
The 10 businesses whose plans are provided include a:
Most importantly, each plan is highly detailed and packed with key information you can use to inspire your own business plan:
Whether you need to see some examples of overall plan structure or want to learn how to format your plan's capital requirements section, SmartBusinessPlan can help.
3. Ladies Who Launch
Founded in 2016 by businesswomen Sarah Friar and Kelly McGonigle, Ladies Who Launch is a nonprofit organization that offers free real-world business plan examples and templates sourced from its own community.
Those include two templates, as well as fully-fledged plans from a wellness studio and bottled beverage company (Honest Tea, if you were wondering).
While the selection of business plans to browse through is small, it's certainly high-quality. For instance, Honest Tea's 1998 business plan has more than 25 pages of valuable details:
So if you're looking for in-depth business plans from successful companies and free downloadable templates, you'll want to check out Ladies Who Launch.
With its annual revenue clocking in at over $25 billion, British multinational bank Barclays certainly knows a thing or two about making money. And because it's a business lender, it also knows what to look for in a good business plan.
It comes in a PDF format you can easily fill out either in your browser or a PDF reader, and it covers everything from personal details to business goals to nitty-gritty financial details:
And as an added bonus, the entire template is sprinkled with helpful hints and explanations that can make your business planning process easier.
5. Sequoia Capital
If you know anything about venture capitalism, then you've already heard of Sequoia Capital. With its notable investments, including Apple, Google, Airbnb, YouTube, Instacart and 23andMe, Sequoia is nothing short of a startup legend.
Suffice it to say that the team at Sequoia is good at identifying promising companies, so their recommended business plan format is a useful resource for any small business.
In true Silicon Valley fashion, the firm's business plan template is clean and simple. It only includes 10 sections, including a one-sentence company purpose, the problem you're trying to solve and the solution you're offering:
If you're looking to create a lean, startup-style business plan, then Sequoia Capital's free business plan template will be right up your alley.
As a business formation company, we help you with every step of getting your business started, even after you're already up and running. Our handy business plan template download is a free PDF you can download and fill out.
You'll find sections that cover:
Services or products description
Marketing and sales strategy
Financial projects and data
Our prompts and explanations make it easy for you to fill in all the pertinent details of your business plan.
At the end of the day, whether or not you have a polished business plan won't make or break your business. But the truth is that by taking the time to create one, you'll undoubtedly be increasing you and your company's chances of success.
And when you're ready to turn your business plan into a reality, Incfile is here for you with our LLC formation service. All you need to do is pay state fees — we'll handle the rest at no extra charge.
Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.