Your business plan serves as the roadmap for your company. It helps you iron out details like your marketing plan, target market, financial projections, and more. Plus, if you're seeking any sort of venture capital investment, you'll need a professional business plan as part of your slide deck.

Writing a good business plan takes some thought and time. Working off of a template can make the process easier and ensure you don't leave out anything important. Luckily, there are some top-notch business plan templates available for free to help you get started.

1. Oprah.com's One-Page Templates

Sometimes, a simple one-page business plan template is the best. Oprah.com offers three sample templates already filled in for different businesses. You can get ideas from these completed models and easily adapt them to suit your business.

Oprah's site doesn't offer quite enough variety of business types or templates here for my taste. But, with all your plan's details on one page, these provide a more manageable way to get started outlining your small business. That's especially true if longer, multi-page business plans look a little too overwhelming right now.

2. My Own Business Institute's Comprehensive Plan Template

My Own Business Institute offers a comprehensive template broken down into 15 different sections. This template covers everything from your vision for your new business, to acquisitions, cash flow, and more.

The formatting is basic and easy to edit, refine, and make your own. The sections and prompts do get you actively thinking about business components you may not have planned out yet. This particular template may be a bit too detailed for some startup founders, but that could make it a better candidate for taking portions and combining them with other templates.

3. BizGym Funding Plan Templates

If you already know you'll be reaching out to potential investors, the BizGym free business plan template may be an ideal choice. This template is designed specifically to help you pitch your startup business. You can access one-page plans, executive summary versions, and full business plans.

You can even invite teammates to work on and edit the plan online, allowing for a collaborative effort. One of the cons with this template is that you have to sign up for a free BizGym membership to gain access.

4. The Balance's Business Plan Template

If you're new to writing a business plan, The Balance's template is one of the most user-friendly options you'll find. This template is the most helpful one on the list in my opinion because it's such a comprehensive and well written guide and helps you through every section.

One of the cons here is that there's a lot to sift through that many entrepreneurs may not need. However, the template has an advantage in that you can copy and paste it into a Word document, giving you flexibility for editing.

5. BPlans' Modern, Professional Template

The BPlans template incorporates everything you'll want if you plan to approach investors or secure a loan for your business. Students at universities like Princeton and Babson have used this one as they learn how to start a business.

This template digs into the details that matter to investors and banks, which may not be a fit for new founders who just want to get the basics of their business on paper. It will get more advanced founders to think like an investor though. If you're not sure how to get started, BPlans' library offers more than 500 sample business plans for inspiration.

6. Business.Govt.Nz's Template

The Business.Govt.Nz business plan template includes guides and prompts to help you think about the details of your business, from company description to competitive analysis. It outlines steps you'll need to take for marketing strategy, funding, and more. The site does offers a couple of thorough plans, but there isn't as much variety to pick from here compared to other resources. 

7. Plan Buildr's Step-By-Step Plan

The Plan Buildr template is a more brief, less overwhelming template and can be completed in just 10 minutes. It's broken down into simple steps and it will even calculate financials for you. One of the cons here is that it's just not as comprehensive as others on my list. It can, however, be an ideal choice for your first draft, especially as you're still ironing out details of your financial plan.

Published on: Oct 25, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.