Business plan templates set you up for success by providing a framework to guide you through setting goals and planning crucial aspects of your business, like operations, marketing, and financials.
A one-page business plan template compiles the essential information you need to explain your business and present it in the best light to investors, partners, suppliers, vendors, and employees. It is a brief document that organizes and communicates the most impressive, practical, and persuasive details of your business.
Depending on your business case — e.g., raising funds, launching a new product, or updating workflows and processes — you can add or remove specific sections in your business plan template to fit your needs. Using a business plan template frees up and saves valuable time and effort by providing guidance on what to include and highlight while ensuring you don’t overlook any necessary details.
There are many business plan types, including startup business plans, expansion plans, business operational plans, and lean or one-page business plans. These plans have different goals and help entrepreneurs and small business owners sustain momentum and growth through different phases.
This article will teach you how to write a business plan effectively. We’ll discuss the essential sections of a business plan, tips to complete each one, and mistakes to avoid. You can begin right now by downloading one of Wrike’s business-focused templates.
Is a business plan really necessary?
As the world of work accelerates with the speed of innovation, globalization, and remote work, many practices are changing. Transactions and negotiations that would have taken months to complete can now transpire in hours or days using video conferencing and other collaborative tools. Seeking confirmation, giving feedback, signing contracts, and closing deals are done more efficiently and across many borders.
But even so, business plans are as essential and valuable as ever. Widely used is the one-page business plan, which is a quick, concise way to summarize and present your business’s status, current needs, and projected future. One-page business plans help illustrate where your business is and how you plan to achieve its potential. Investors, partners, and stakeholders can see the main points at a glance and decide whether to continue conversations, turn down the offer, or agree to your ask.
Business plan templates help simplify the process of creating thorough and effective business plans. They get you past the initial blank page and provide a structure for building your own professional and comprehensive business plan in minutes or hours, not days or weeks. These templates make it easy to visualize viable exit strategies and desired business outcomes, promoting strategic and impactful decision-making as a sole entrepreneur, small business, or CEO of a fast-growing startup answering to shareholders.
Business plans help to:
- Get more clarity on your business roadmap: Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or a small business owner looking to raise funds, business plans clarify your goals and organizational objectives for different periods, e.g., one to five years. Clear goals translate to actionable plans. Teams can break them down into tasks and projects and chart a timeline to achieve milestones.
- Pitch and raise funds from investors: The most common reason people do the hard task of creating business plans in the first place is to pitch their startup or business idea to investors, bankers, or venture capitalists. A business plan shows you're serious about your business and communicates the business's potential. If your plan is clear and investors are convinced, you can raise the funds you need.
- Convince stakeholders: There are many instances in business when you have to convince others to buy into a new idea or try new ways to improve the company’s bottom line. Teams and project managers create internal business plans to present their cases and convince stakeholders about the viability of their proposed solution. A well-done business plan can win the necessary sponsorship and stakeholder support you need.
- Navigate potential risks: A business plan template ensures you cover all crucial aspects of your business. It creates visibility into potential risks and challenges the business or project may face as well as an opportunity for proactive brainstorming and strategy development to mitigate these risks.
How long should your business plan be?
A conventional business plan can be many pages long. The ideal length is whatever is required to explain the business adequately and excite your readers about its potential. Business plans can be from as few as five to as many as 25 pages. However, it’s advisable to keep it as short as possible to hold your readers’ attention through most of it.
A one-page business plan is a condensed, lightweight version of a conventional business plan. The one-page plan illustrates what your business does by summarizing its mission, operations, marketing, and financial forecasts on one page.
You use visual elements like graphs and charts, bullet points, summaries, and clever formatting to keep the one-page plan informative, engaging, and clear for readers to understand. Answer frequently recurring questions in the appendices and carry along useful, additional documents to provide details and proof of work when seeking investment. Investors want to know your business can be profitable, and they can cash out. They’d like to see evidence of a viable market and customer interest.
How do I write a simple business plan?
Before you begin writing your business plan, talk to your customers and employees to validate and shape your business concept. It doesn’t matter if you’re just beginning to grow your business or raising another round for expansion.
Writing a business plan starts with speaking to people on the ground — customers, leads, residents, consumers, employees, and any other groups that directly use and experience your products, services, and business management.
Once you have their input, you can start writing your business plan by completing the seven sections below.
Essential components of a business plan
Every business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Products and services
- Market analysis
- Management team
- Financial plan
- Operational plan
These seven parts cover the crucial areas that keep a business running and successful. Without clarity on any section, you may struggle to build a thriving business.
1. Executive summary
The executive summary outlines your one-page business plan. It introduces what readers can expect in the following sections and highlights the most impressive statistics and information in the business plan to pique their interest.
Executive summaries should be concise. Every sentence should be necessary and add value to the plan. Here’s an example of a one-page business plan executive summary:
Marigold Panes, a joint venture between a shipping and manufacturing company, aims to expand its successful European portfolio and capture a significant percentage of the rapidly growing North American window pane renovation market, focused on modern styles for residential and commercial spaces. This niche market is expanding at 12.6% yearly. It generated $19 billion in the US alone in the last year. Building on its success in Europe, Marigold Panes aims to establish a similarly structured company in the US within the next six months, using a hyper-localized go-to-market strategy across selected major cities.
2. Company description
The company description section should explain what your business does, highlighting your business model, industry, and type.
Include a clear mission and vision statement to set the foundation for your organization’s purpose, values, and long-term goals. This provides clarity and context around your business presence, creating a shared understanding of the business’s key objectives, guiding decision-making, inspiring teams, and setting the stage for long-term success.
Stating your mission and vision statements early in the business plan helps establish a sense of purpose from the outset. Be firm yet flexible to allow room for adapting to changing market conditions while remaining true to the company’s core values.
Continuing with the Marigold Panes example, let’s see what a company description may look like.
- Introduction: Marigold Panes is a partnership between a shipping and a manufacturing company focused on winning window pane renovation projects from North America.
- Business type: Joint venture (JV), i.e., a partnership between two entities: a shipping company and a manufacturing company.
- Founding team: Partnering companies have a track record of delivering high-quality projects in their industries. This JV brings a double assurance of quality and standards for the market in North America. Both companies have strong executive and management teams with experience and expertise in fields apart from the core two.
- Business mission: Marigold Panes’ mission is to source, manufacture, and ship the highest-quality window panes worldwide.
- Business goals:
- Establish a trustworthy brand presence in North America.
- Grow customer base >15% month on month.
- Meet a revenue target of $2 billion from the North American market within three years
3. Products and services
Your plan’s products and services section should outline all the business’s products and services. This should include your current products and services, those in the pipeline, and any others you plan to launch. Add necessary details about each one, so readers have a concise yet clear understanding of them.
Ensure you’re clear about ownership and copyright issues for every product or service listed. Share details about the workflows and processes that enable your business production and allow you to deliver successfully to customers.
Continuing with Marigold Panes, its products and services section may look like this:
- Procurement of window pane materials
- Manufacturing of window panes
- Shipping of window panes
- Managing window pane disposal
- Windowpane renovation projects
4. Market analysis
Your market analysis section should highlight the most important peculiarities about your target market and customer types, presenting research that validates the products and services. Depending on the stage your company is at, your market research section may be more focused on total market size, percentage of market share, rate of market share growth, or competitor activities.
Break down your total market into smaller segments based on factors such as demographics, location, and priority needs. This will help identify the size and value of a specific target audience within the broader market, enabling you to create tailored marketing strategies for reaching and appealing to different market segments.
Market research helps you learn about your industry’s current demand and supply balance, how best to position yourself to solve the market’s needs, the most viable segments within it, and the best strategies for achieving product/market fit. It helps teams understand target customers’ pain points, needs, and preferences. That way, companies can create a product or service that effectively addresses particular needs, leading to high demand and customer satisfaction.
You can use the popular SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) technique to show your company’s positioning and competitive advantages. SWOT analyses are excellent complements to one-page plans as they convey so much information about your business operations, positioning, and potential using little space on the page.
For Marigold Panes, it would start by listing all the window pane companies in North America operating for over two years and conducting above $500 million in annual revenue. It can then research the shortlisted companies and learn its business weaknesses and strengths compared to them.
5. Management team
The management team section outlines your business’s top, most critical personnel and their expertise, experience, and credentials. This should show your organizational hierarchy and business’s legal structure.
For Marigold Panes, it may list the personnel working on the new partnership from the executive and management teams of both companies.
Ensure that every team member in your business plan is credible, competent, and quick at their job — with the capacity and ability to convey your business goals and convince stakeholders your team and organization can execute their projects.
6. Financial plan
Not all business plans need an in-depth financial plan, but every one needs a well-done forecast and estimations to show where the business is currently and how you plan to grow from there. A financial plan section provides a snapshot of your business’s current and future financial health. It shows investors whether your business will become profitable, where you spend the most money, and how fast you spend it.
For a one-page plan, you only need an overview of your financial activities and projections, including where your capital came from, how much runway you have, the cash burn rate, how much investment you need for the next round, and how you plan to use the money.
Your finances may be in the red and making losses when you’re just starting your business. Investors expect this and are more interested in learning how and when you plan to break even, pay off any loans, and start to make profit.
Our example, Marigold Panes, is a partnership between two existing companies. Its financial plan for the new joint venture would include a balance sheet summary showing assets, liabilities, and capital of the new joint venture, as well as additional financial data including periodic projections.
7. Operational plan
The operational plan section in your one-page business plan should include a summary of what needs to be done to transform your raw materials into finished products and how they will be delivered to customers.
The operational plan outlines your business’s main goals and the processes, tasks, and milestones to reach them. Think of how your products and services are created from scratch. What essential tasks, expenses, and steps must be taken every time to create the product/service or achieve a goal? Operational planning is best optimized with project tracking software such as Wrike to ensure smooth and efficient collaborative workflows, encouraging progress from one phase to the next.
For Marigold Panes, the operational plan may include getting procurement quotes from international suppliers, a system for estimating production costs on each new project, manufacturing equipment to design the panes, and manufactured/sales inventory for shipping to customers.
Business plan example
Here is a one-page business plan example to inspire your own. This business plan example has fields for your:
- Executive summary: In this section, write a brief, compelling summary of your business plan
- Company description: Detail a comprehensive overview of your company, including its legal structure, mission, vision, and objectives
- Products and services: Here, you focus on the products or services your company offers, highlighting the unique selling points that differentiate your offerings from competitors
- Management team: Introduce your management team, emphasizing their skills, experiences, and qualifications that are relevant to your industry and company
- Marketing analysis: In this section, present a thorough analysis of your target market, including market segmentation, target audience identification, market size, growth potential, and competitor analysis
- Financial plan: In this section, outline the company’s financial projections and goals
- Operational plan: List the day-to-day processes, tools, and procedures required to run the business effectively
Business plan best practices
Follow the following best practices to create an effective plan for your business:
- Be realistic: Use figures as close to current reality as possible to create budgets and estimate fixed and variable costs over time. This applies to timelines and schedules as well. Take note when the actual work being done begins to deviate from the planned work and resources.
- Conduct quality research: Gather the figures, dates, and other data used in preparing your business plan from reputable, unbiased, authoritative sources. Cite these sources in the appendices of your plan.
- Review and iterate: One-page business plans are lean enough to be easily adjusted to reflect market fluctuations, economic changes, and any other variations. Iterating and updating your business plans regularly ensures your team members and stakeholders work using the latest findings and stay aligned on the same goals and timelines.
- Focus on your business strengths: Showcase the best reasons for anyone to want to partner, support, or invest in your business. If you have impressive financial projections or a highly skilled management team, emphasize these sections in your plan. When you illustrate weaknesses, ensure you have a solution for them in your roadmap.
- Have your documents on hand: Your readers may want to look deeper into some assumptions of your plan. Have answers to frequently asked questions in the appendices and hold on to copies of practical documents you can share.
What to avoid when writing a business plan
Business plans are developed to communicate business goals and convince important stakeholders to believe in, and possibly invest in, your company. It is important to keep this in mind when creating a business plan. This way, you write to impress and convince the reader rather than simply presenting facts and figures about the business. Keep the following tips in mind and avoid commonly made mistakes in business planning:
- Make your business plan easy to scan. Separate sections, color-code where possible, and format your document to look inviting. Avoid long blocks of text and vary the way you present your data, e.g., using visual charts and bullet points.
- Avoid including irrelevant information in your plan. You have limited space on a single page, so make sure every sentence and section serves a purpose. Your business plan should be packed with data that shows your business is on track to increase profitability with your team and anticipated resources.
- Avoid ambiguity. Be clear about where you are in your business and what you need to get to the next stage so your readers or investors know exactly what’s required and how they can be a part of it. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what’s most important for them to know to make a favorable decision. For instance, instead of focusing on your product’s features and technology, you focus on your audience’s needs, e.g., the financial viability and operational feasibility of your plan.
- Maintain a realistic perspective: Avoid overly optimistic projections, especially in the financial projections, day-to-day capabilities of the team, and estimated output and revenue at key milestones. This helps to plan a realistic runway, show your resource management strategies, and lead your business toward success. Overconfident estimates can also damage your business’s credibility and discourage potential investors. Make sure to address your competitors’ activities to show how you plan to differentiate and position your company.
Use Wrike to create the best business plan for your growing business
Wrike helps entrepreneurs, business owners, intrapreneurs, and teams create business plans easily. You can organize your projects using folders and sub-folders and assign them to specific team members or groups with a shared timeline and completion date. Wrike takes business planning from passive to active in this way.
You can begin writing your project objectives, invite involved team members and stakeholders, and request their input in creating the business plan where necessary. For example, the accounting manager fills out the details required in the financial plan section, while the operations manager fills out the operations guidelines.
Even a solo team can gain many benefits from planning with Wrike. From templates to reduce rework to workload charts that show your task assignments, Wrike helps make planning and managing your business efficient. Get started with a free trial today to plan and run your business better.