Free Simple Business Plan Template Get your business on track from with our expert guide to creating a business plan plus a selection of great free templates. Written by Helena Young Updated on 23 November 2023 Our experts We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your proposal and helps you focus your objectives on an achievable and realistic target. It should cover every aspect of what your business journey will look like, from licensing and revenue, to competitor and sector analysis.Writing a business plan doesn't need to be a difficult process, but it should take at least a month to be done properly.In today's capricious business climate there's a lot to consider, such as the impact of political challenges like Brexit. These details are especially important in today's bad economy. Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who are aware of the challenges ahead and how to properly plan for them.Below, you'll find everything you need to create a concise, specific and authoritative business plan. So let's get started turning your idea into a reality! Business Plan Template from Startups.co.uk Click here to download your free Business Plan template PDF – you can fill in your own details and those of your business, its target market, your customers, competitors and your vision for growth. Download PDF (240KB) Work through your business plan, step-by-step Our below guide will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality business plan, and our PDF download above can give you a clear template to work through.But, creating an effective business plan needs….planning! That's where a high quality planning tool can help.We recommend using the monday.com business plan workflow to ensure nothing gets missed. Every step involved in the business planning process – strategy, marketing, finances, and market analysis – is already mapped out for you. You can use this to work through each stage, ticking off your progress and getting a real sense of achievement as you go. Your journey doesn't need to stop there, of course – with a business up and running, having an effective project management tool is essential.We recommend creating an account with monday to use this tool – there's even a free trial. Doing so means you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot. What to include in your business plan templateThere's a lot of information online about how to write a business plan – making it a confusing task to work out what is and isn't good advice.We're here to cut through the noise by telling you exactly what you need to include for a business plan that will satisfy stakeholders and help develop a key identity for your brand. By the end, you'll have a plan to make even Alan Sugar proud and can get started with the most exciting part – running your business. Business plan example: 'The Plew' Throughout this guide, we've featured an example business plan template for a new restaurant opening in Birmingham called ‘The Plew'. In each section, you'll be able to see what the contents we're describing would look like in a ‘real-life' document. What to include in your business plan: Executive Summary Personal summary Business idea Your product or service Market analysis Competitor analysis Cash forecast Operations and logistics Backup plan Top tips for writing a business plan Business plan template UK FAQs 1. Executive summaryThis section is a summary of your entire business plan. Because of this, it is a good idea to write it at the end of your plan, not the beginning.Just as with the overall business plan, the executive summary should be clearly written and powerfully persuasive, yet it should balance sales talk with realism in order to be convincing. It should be no more than 1,000 words.It should cover:Mission statement – what is your company's purpose?Business idea and opportunity – what unique selling point (USP) will you provide?Business model – how will your business operate?Business objectives – what are you aiming to achieve?Target market – who is your customer base?Management team – who are the owners/senior staff?Competition – who are you competing against?Financial summary – can you prove the business will be profitable?Marketing strategy – what is your marketing plan and associated costs?Timeline – how long will it take to launch/grow your new business?It sounds like a lot – but don't feel you have to spend hours putting this together. Here's what the above information for an executive summary might look like when put into our example business plan template for ‘The Plew':Startups' business plan template example: executive summary 2. Personal summaryInvestors want to know who they're investing in, as much as what. This is where you tell people who you are, and why you're starting your business.Outline your general contact details first, giving your telephone number, email address, website or portfolio, and any professional social media profiles you might have.Run through this checklist to tell the reader more about yourself, and put your business ambitions into context.What skills/qualifications do you have?What are you passionate about?What is/are your area(s) of industry expertise?Why do you want to run your own business?Here's what our two fictional co-founders of ‘The Plew' might write in their personal summaries for our example business plan. CEO Gabrielle Shelby, has highlighted her expertise in the restaurant industry, while CFO Freya Moore outlines her accounting and finance knowledge.Startups' business plan template example: personal summary What do the experts recommend? Richard Osborne, founder and CEO of UK Business Forums, says personality is important in a business plan.“Having a strong, personal reason at the heart of your business model will help keep you going and give you the motivation to carry on,” he affirms. 3. Business ideaThis section is essentially to offer a general outline of what your business idea is, and why it brings something new to the market.Here, you should include your general company details, such as your business name and a one-line summary of your business idea known as an elevator pitch. This section should also list a few key business objectives to show how you plan to scale over the next 1-3 years.We also recommend carrying out a SWOT analysis to tell investors what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for your business idea. Think about:Strengths: ie. why is this a good time to enter the sector?Weaknesses: ie. what market challenges might you encounter?Opportunities: ie. what demand is your product/service meeting in today's market?Threats: ie. how will the business be financed to maintain liquidity?In the template below, you can see a breakdown of the above information for ‘The Plew'. At the top is its mission statement: “to craft an unforgettable dining experience in a chic atmosphere.”Startups' business plan template example: business idea Need a business idea? We've crunched the numbers and come up with a list of the best business ideas for startup success in 2023 based on today's most popular and growing industries. 4. Your products or servicesNow it's time to explain what you are selling to customers and how will you produce your sales offering.Use this section to answer all of the below questions and explain what you plan to sell and how. Just like your business idea outline, your answers should be concise and declarative.What product(s) or service(s) will you sell?Do you plan to offer new products or services in the future?How much does the product or service cost to produce/deliver?What is your pricing strategy?What sales channels will you use?Are there legal requirements to start this business?What about insurance requirements?What is the growth potential for the product or service?What are the challenges? eg. if you're looking to sell abroad, acknowledge the potential delays caused by post-Brexit regulations.What insurance and licensing requirements do you need to consider?Depending on what your business offers, you might need to invest in insurance or licensing. Our How To Start guides have more details about sector-specific insurance or licensing.Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, and Employers' Liability are the most well-known types of business insurance. We've listed some other common other licensing and insurance requirements below:Common insurance requirements:Common license requirements:Income Protection insuranceCritical Illness insuranceLife Cover insuranceOffice or Home insuranceAutomobile insuranceHealth and Safety licensingFood Hygiene and Safety licensingIntellectual Property licensingCopyrights licensingPatent licensingIn our example product/service page for ‘The Plew”s business plan, the founders choose to separate this information into multiple pages. Below, they outline their cost and pricing, as well as sales strategy. But they also include an example menu, to offer something a bit more unique and tantalising to the reader:Startups' business plan template example: product list and pricing strategy 5. Market analysisThis section demonstrates your understanding of the market you are entering, and any challenges you will likely face when trying to establish your company.This section pulls all of your target market and customer research together to indicate to stakeholders that you are knowledgable about the sector and how to succeed in it.Who is your typical customer and where are they are based? Describe the profile of your expected customers eg. average age, location, budget, interests, etc.How many customers will your business reach? Outline the size of your market, and the share of the market that your business can reach.Have you sold any products/services to customers already? If yes, describe these sales. If no, have people expressed interest in buying your products or services?What have you learned about the market from desk-based research? What are the industry's current challenges, and how has it been affected by the economic downturn?What have you learned about the market from field research? (eg. feedback from market testing like customer questionnaires or focus group feedback).What is your marketing strategy?Once you've highlighted who your rivals are in the market, you can provide details on how you plan to stand out from them through your marketing strategy. Outline your business' USP, your current marketing strategy, and any associated advertising costs.‘The Plew' identifies its target audience as young, adventurous people in their mid-30s. Because of the restaurant's premium service offering, its audience works in a well-paid sector like tech:Startups' business plan template example: customer analysis 6. Competitor analysisThis section demonstrates how well you know the key players and rivals in the industry. It should show the research you have carried out in a table format.Begin by listing the key information about your competitors. Don't worry about sounding too critical, or too positive. Try to prioritise accuracy above all else.NameLocationBusiness sizeProduct/service offeringSales channelsPricingStrengths/weaknessesCompetitors will take two forms, either direct or indirect. Direct competitors sell the same or similar products or services. Indirect competitors sell substitute or alternative products or services.Here's a breakdown of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and threats presented by a competitor restaurant for ‘The Plew' called Eateria 24. At the bottom, the founders have written what learnings they can take from the chart.Startups' business plan template example: competitor analysis Want to know more about how to carry out competitor analysis? Check out our list of the top competitor analysis templates to download free resources for your business, plus advice on what to include and how to get started. 7. Cash forecastOutline your financial outlook including how much you expect to spend, and make, in your first yearAll of your considered costs can be put into one easy-to-read document called a monthly cash forecast. Cash forecasts contain:1. Incoming costs such as sales revenue, customer account fees, or funding.2. Outgoing costs such as staff wages or operating expenses. The latter can cover everything from advertising costs to office supplies.For those firms which have already started trading, include any previous year's accounts (up to three years) as well as details of any outstanding loans or assets.Annual cash forecast: what is it?By conducting 12 monthly cash forecasts, you can create an annual cash forecast to work out when your company will become profitable (also known as breakeven analysis). You will break even when total incoming costs = total outgoing costs.In your annual cost budget, make sure to also include month opening/closing balance. This is important to monitor for accounting, particularly for year-end.Opening balance = the amount of cash at the beginning of the monthClosing balance = the amount of cash at the end of the monthThe opening balance of any month will always be the same as the closing balance of the previous month. If you are repeatedly opening months with a negative closing balance, you need to adjust your spending. Here's an example of what ‘The Plew's financials might look like in its first year of operation:Startups' business plan template example: cash forecast 8. Operations and logisticsExplain how your day-to-day business activities will be run, including key business partnerships around production and delivery.A.) ProductionList all of the behind the scenes information about how your business will operate. Include:Management team – who do you plan to hire as senior staff and why?Premises – where will you be based? What will be the cost?Materials – what materials/equipment will you need to make your product/service?Staffing – how many employees will you hire? How much will they cost?Insurance – what insurance do you need for production?B.) DeliveryDetail how your customers will receive your product or service. Include:Distribution – how will you sell your product to customers?Transport – how will you transport the product/service to customers or partners?Insurance – what insurance do you need for delivery?C.) Supplier analysisLastly, you should carry out a supplier analysis. Write down 2-3 suppliers you plan to use as part of your business operations and evaluate them on factors like location and pricing.In our example business plan for ‘The Plew', the founders have chosen to present this information in an easily-digestible chart, breaking down the leadership and employees into two different areas: product development and operations.Startups' business plan template example: staffing section 9. Backup planExplain how you will manage any surprise losses if your cash forecast does not go to plan.In the event that your business does not go to plan, there will be costs to incur. A backup plan outlines to potential investors how you will pay back any outstanding loans or debt.In the short-term: If your cash-flow temporarily stalls, what steps could you take to quickly raise money or make savings? For example, by negotiating shorter payment terms with your customers.In the long-term:If you've noticed a drop in sales that seems to be persisting, what changes can you make that would improve cash flow longer term? For example, can you do more of your business online to reduce rent fees?To placate investors even further, it's a good idea to include details about potential support channels you can utilise (eg. a business network or contact) who might be able to help if you get caught in a sticky cash-flow situation. Startups' 5 top tips for writing a business planKeep your predictions realistic. Your business plan should showcase your knowledge of the sector and what's achievable. It's not about impressing investors with big numbers or meaningless buzzwords.Don't go over 15 pages. Business plans should be engaging, which means sticking to the point and avoiding a lot of long-winded sentences. Keep your executive summary to less than 1,000 words, for example.End with supporting documents. Use your appendix to include product diagrams or detailed research findings if these are helpful to your business case.Get a second pair of eyes. Everyone misses a spelling error or two – invite a trusted business contact or associate to look over your business plan before you send it anywhere.Leave enough time to write! It's exciting to think about getting your business up and running – but planning is an important step that can't be rushed over. Spend at least a month on writing to get all the details correct and laid-out. Startups.co.uk can help your business succeed At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have practical resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – use the tool below to get started today. What Does Your Business Need Help With? Project Planning Launching a Website Getting a Business Loan Seeking Investment Get Started Next stepsDesigning a business plan is very important for laying the foundation of your business. Ensure you spend an appropriate amount of time filling it out, as it could save you many headaches further down the line.Once your plan is complete, you'll then be ready to look at other aspects of business set-up, such as registering your company. Sound daunting? Don't worry!Our experts have pulled together a simple, comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in 2024, which will tell you everything you need to know to put your new plan into action. Business Plan Template from Startups.co.uk Click here to download your free Business Plan template PDF – you can fill in your own details and those of your business, its target market, your customers, competitors and your vision for growth. Download PDF (240KB) Business plan template UK FAQs Can I write a business plan myself? Absolutely! There are plenty of resources available to help, but the truth is a business plan needs to reflect the owner's personal ambitions and passion - which is why entrepreneurs are best-placed to write their own. How long should a business plan be? We recommend your business plan is kept to a maximum of 15 pages. Keep it short and concise - your executive summary, for example, should be no more than 1,000 words. Is it OK to copy a business plan? While not technically illegal, copying a business plan will leave you in a poor position to attract investment. Customising your plan to your unique business idea and industry specialism is the best way to persuade stakeholders that you have a winning startup formula. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags Essential Guides Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.