Guide to Sample Business Plans and Templates

Starting or expanding a business? Looking for small business loans, venture capital, angel investors or other financial backing?  Then you need a business plan, plain and simple. Every successful startup begins with a sound business plan.

But why start from scratch if you don’t have to? By using a sample business plan, business plan template or helpful business plan software, creating a buttoned-down business plan that does what you want it to will be a lot easier.

No matter what your business idea, there’s probably a sample business plan or template that you can adapt to your own circumstances and needs.   

Business PlanEven if you plan to work from samples or templates, however, you should still consider using business plan software to put the pieces together. While there are many business plan software choices available, Business Plan Pro (Palo Alto Software) has been the #1 seller for many years.

Bullet-Proof your Pitch

The standard desktop edition of Business Plan Pro is $99, while the Premier edition, which contains more sample plans and features, is $159. There’s also an online version called LivePlan that lets you do everything online, from anywhere, with no contract. The online version is sold on a subscription basis for $19.95 per month. It will help you plan your strategy, pitch for funding and track your progress.

And here’s a big plus: Business Plan Pro comes with over 500 sample business plans. Inspire yourself and your cohorts by looking at other successful plans. You can even start with a sample plan or template and merely edit and change what’s already there to be assured you start off on the right track.

Another key benefit of using business plan software is that it can bullet-proof your numbers. Nothing frustrates potential investors or venture capitalists like numbers that don’t add up. Because business plan software comes with built-in formulas and linked tables, you’ll be alerted to any missing numbers, and the software automatically puts data where it needs to go. Business Plan Pro also comes with data on over 9,000 industries, so you have numbers to back up your projections.

Find Free Sample Plans

If you’re strapped for cash, check out (also from Palo Alto Software) which offers hundreds of free sample business plans and business plan templates. You’ll even find them available in popular business categories such as a restaurant, cafe, bakery, retail store, online or eBay store, beauty salon, day spa and service businesses such as accountant, insurance agent, self-storage business and cleaning service.  Other categories include consulting, real estate, fitness center, construction and engineering, hotel, bar, medical and health care, pet services and many others.

Free business plan templates are also available from SCORE  ( And since they come from SCORE, you can be certain they are well done and high quality. Free downloads include a business plan template for a startup, as well as an established business, and a “quick start” business plan. 

Other helpful templates you can get for free from SCORE include: competitive analysis, startup expenses, opening day balance sheet, financial projections, breakeven analysis, bank loan request, cash flow statement, profit and loss projection, and sales forecast. At the SCORE website, look for “Business Plans” under the “Startup” tab at the top of the page.

You’ll also find a large selection of business plan templates and sample business plans – both free and for purchase – at

Biz Plan Tips

Whether you start from scratch or use a template, remember these keys to creating a good business plan:

  • It should be simple — which means easy to understand.
  • It should be detailed and specific. Your goals, objective, benchmarks, competitive analysis, market overview and other key items should be concrete and measurable.
  • Be specific about what actions the business will take, with specific completion dates, who is responsible, and budgets.
  • Your business plan should be realistic, including your sales goals, expense estimates, market size projections and milestone dates. Unrealistic plans fall apart quickly.

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Additional Resources


Writing a Strong Business Plan

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About the Author

Daniel Kehrer, headshotDaniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp., is a nationally-known, award-winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/Anderson. Read more of Daniel's tips at, follow him at and connect on LinkedIn at
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