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Business plans - are there any specific templates that are better than others?

Although it's been over a year since I started my business, I still haven't written out a proper business plan yet. How important is one and why?

Are there any specific business plan templates that are better than others, and what are they? Thank you :)

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7 answers

Greetings Mayoni, I hope you are well.

A business plan is very necessary because it allows you to define the steps to follow based on the objectives you want to achieve, I do not recommend relying on any template since this is usually limiting when defining a business plan since all the Startups have different needs, aspirations and conditions.

If you currently do not have a business plan and would like to develop one first, you have to focus on what you are doing at the moment and what are the goals you would like to achieve with your business in the short, medium and long terms. Based on these objectives, you can create a roadmap that allows you to see more clearly what is the order of actions that you must take to achieve those objectives.

Some people use the CANVAS method to quickly develop what their business model is, then they focus on where they have weaknesses or where they feel they have to improve and from there they define objectives, then they define their roadmap to guide them in the actions that must be followed to achieve these objectives one by one.

Report Miguel Alejandro's answer

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There are many templates out there, some better than others. I do not encourage them for the initial drafting of a business plan, because they encourage a "Fill in the Blanks" mentality at the onset, rather than free thinking creativity.

My advice to most of my clients is to view what a business plan looks like at the following sites: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan https://www.bplans.com/sample_business_plans.php

But do not use the templates initially. Simply work in the software you are most comfortable with to develop the major sections of your plan (MS Word, Excel and the like). When your initial plan is drafted, run it by some experts in your field and business people who are experienced.

When the content is solid, the templates (most cost money) may be useful to finalize a cosmetically pleasing end product. In my view that is their only useful utility.

Report Kenneth's answer

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The key elements of a business plan would include these aspects:

1.) Concept 2.) Product Definition 3.) Sourcing 4.) Manufacturing (if applicable) 5.) Competitive Advantage 6.) Market Assessment 7.) Total Addressable Market 8.) Segmentation 9.) Competitive Landscape 10.) Sales and Marketing 11.) Organization and People

I don't think that all of these answers need to be figured out in the beginning, but this can be used to guide what areas you should think about before launching your business.

Report Lisa's answer

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Mayoni - there is no "template" that fits everyone but to start off - think basics:

1) Build revenue plan with Price * Quantity - for whatever you're selling 2) Build out your costs - what are they - COGS - variable vs. fixed. SG&A. CapEx? 3) Build a basic P&L using #1 and #2 and eventually get to cash flows (i.e. what happens when you account for capital investments, interest payments, taxes, etc.)

Report Shivang's answer

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I think I agree with what most of the answers state - there are an amazing ( and confusing) lot of templates available online - both free and paid. And yes, almost none of them will be a perfect fit for your business.

That said, the templates can be useful for formatting your plan, and more importantly, your thoughts. You can find areas you may have forgotten or glossed over, and bring them into your plan.

I am particularly partial to a template - i will more likely prefer to call it a tool - the lean canvas. This can be a starting point for plan - yes, definitely not a template for the plan.

What I like about it is, that it focuses on the key aspects of the business plan for any kind of business, and forces you to think about each of them and their linkages, and have it all within an A4 size sheet of paper. The details may need to be developed off the canvas, but the key points - the inputs for business, the outputs and the metrics for them are all on one sheet.

The product design and the revenue model will also need to be developed separately, but they are usually not forgotten,and definitely need and additional eye to check.

But the lean canvas focuses on the basics and ensures you do not miss out the essentials.

Finally, as with every ready to use resource out there, the templates and tools can only be signposts to your way,you have to make the journey yourself.

Report Vijay's answer

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There are a number of useful Business Plan templates that I have seen several start-ups successfully use that are free guides from Universities. For example: from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): http://web.mit.edu/e-club/hadzima/pdf/the-business-plan.pdf A presentation example from Stanford University: http://web.stanford.edu/~kunz/Chalmers/W2BPlan.pdf Lots of resources & links from Columbia University: https://guides.library.columbia.edu/c.php?g=718611&p=5140881 Good luck and I hope that helps!

Report Kim's answer

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