5 Best Business Plan Templates: Ultimate Guide with FAQ

There are two options for completing a business plan, either completing it yourself, or hiring a business plan writer. For entrepreneurs that prefer to do the business plan themselves, there are a variety of templates that will help them to work more efficiently. There are many templates available, so it can be challenging to determine which one is best for your business idea. Wimgo has reviewed each of the top templates available and recommended the best based on your specific objectives.

Business Plan TemplatesBest For
Growthink(Best Overall) Good for advanced users and covers all requirements for a variety of use cases, but better for those with MS Office skills.
Score(Best Free) A good template that covers the most important elements and is relatively easy to follow for beginners.
SBA Lean Startup(Easiest) A good foundation for articulating key parts of your business in a simple and fast way for those with limited MS Office experience.
LivePlan(Software) A software version that includes helpful tutorials and automatically generates editable versions, good for tech savvy.
SlidebeanA software for making presentations and free editable PPT version. Best for those wanting a pitch deck or investor presentation.

Evaluation Methodology

  • Content: The depth of content in the templates which defines where they are capable of being used. Some are better for internal strategy whereas others for bank loans or investors

  • Ease of Use: Simplicity of the template to use, including the supported files or software and MS Office experience level

  • Support: The amount of customer support and business planning resources available across tutorials or live agents


Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template (Best Overall)

Growthink business plan template
Growthink's Business Plan Template

Available In: Word Doc, Excel

Highlights: Growthink has helped more than 500,000 over the past 20 + years and its professional business plan template was created by their internal team, which is why it is selected as our best overall. It comes with several designs and multiple optional upgrades including market research and a pitch deck template. Growthink claims to help entrepreneurs to create traditional business plans in less than 8 hours. However, it is best for those with prior experience using MS Office.


  • Best For: Bank Loans, Investors, Strategic Planning, Market Research
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Cost: $79.00
Designed by the experts at a reputable Los Angeles based consulting firm
More expensive than other business plan templates
Includes helpful tips and examples to assist entrepreneurs to write the plan
Requires higher level skills than simpler free templates or fill-in-the blank .PDF templates
Covers all key areas of the business plan for a variety of use cases
365 days of customer support

Score Business Plan Template for Startup Business (Best Value)

Score business plan template
Score's Business Plan Template

Available In: Word Doc, Excel

Highlights: American not-for-profit committed to assisting people with business planning – everything from support with your business idea to forming your limited liability company. Its business plan layout, accessible as a PDF or Word download, asks an astounding 150 inquiries and is adequately nonexclusive to alter for most kinds of organizations. However, it may not have the same versatility or optional upgrades as paid versions, but is a solid option among free business plan templates.


  • Best For: Bank Loans, Small Investors, Established Business
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Cost: Free
Completely free from a non-profit
May not meet requirements of business plans by some investors or banks
SCORE has free business consulting services
May not have the same support as for-profit business plan plan templates
Simple and easy to use
Can be used for many industries
Ready-made layouts are already given

SBA Lean Startup Business Plan (Easiest)

SBA business plan template
SBA's Business Plan Template

Available In: PDF

Highlights: The Small Business Administration (SBA) has two free business plan templates available for entrepreneurs and their business idea, the first is an advanced template, the second a more simple one pager. Both business plan templates, however, are simpler and more compact than Growthink or Score and are a good option for first time entrepreneurs or those with limited MS Office experience.


  • Best For: Strategic Planning, Bank Loans, Small Businesses 
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Cost: Free
Very simple one page business plans that are easy to follow
May be too simple for some investors
More expanded business plan option available
Provides limited instructions and guidance
Covers most important areas of the plan
No customer support

LivePlan (Best Software)

LivePlan software
LivePlan's Software

Available In: Software

Highlights: For those who prefer a more guided business planning solution or have no MS Office experience, the cloud software based LivePlan could be a good alternative to a business plan template. LivePlan walks users through creating a solid business plan and one page ‘pitch’ that is suitable for a variety of use cases and is a good option for entrepreneurs that are looking for additional help during the process, but may be more tedious that MS Office templates for more experienced entrepreneurs.


  • Best For: Bank Loans, Investors, Strategic Planning, Small Businesses 
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Cost: $19.95/month
Requires no MS Office experience
LivePlan can be expensive
Clients can convert their plans into DOC and PDF
May have limited options for advanced users
Includes helpful guidance and examples
May demand a learning curve
Comes with customer service

Slidebean (Pitch Deck Template and Software)

Slidebean's Software

Available In: PowerPoint, Software

Highlights: Slidebean is focused on modern ‘pitch decks’ which are more concise and design oriented versions of traditional business plans. These are often used by technology startups presenting to institutional investors including Angel groups and VCs. Slidebean has both a free PPT pitch deck template, as well as a subscription based cloud software.


  • Best For: Pitch Decks
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Cost: $96/Year
Good option for tech focused startups
May not include everything in a business plan template
Clients can convert their presentation into HTML, PPT, and PDF
Design can be tedious for some users
Allows for easy collaboration
Financial model separate
Includes customer service
Includes free pitch deck templates

Additional Templates

Business Model Canvas (Business Strategy)

Available In: PDF

Highlights: Alexander Osterwalder in his 2004 book “Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers”, introduced the free Business Model Canvas template. This professional business plan template has been a favorite among startup incubators and entrepreneurial MBA programs for helping startup founders organize their research and thoughts to test the viability of their business model. It is a good addition to creating a lean business plan and is often done as a first step.


  • Best For: Strategic Planning, Established Business 
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Cost: Free (Book $21)
Helpful for entrepreneurs to organize their thoughts and strategy
Not recommended to use for raising capital
Assists entrepreneurs to think through various aspects of business planning
No customer service
Used by top MBA programs for students’ business resources
May not be helpful for those with no business experience
Easy to use PDF template, or can be created on your own

The $100 Startup One Page Business Plan (Side Projects)

$100 startup business plan template
$100 Startup's Template

Available In: PDF

Highlights: The $100 startup is Chris Guillebeau’s subsequent book was created based on analyzing 1,500 individuals who’ve made $50,000 or more with exceptionally unobtrusive speculations (frequently under $100), Chris took out a bit-by-bit structure you can use as a how-to guide. It’s a ‘how they did it’ guide that is helpful to those that may be looking for more guidance for a small project or side hobby and want to start with a concise executive summary.


  • Best For: Strategic Planning
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Cost: Free (Book $13)
Good option for those more eager to learn and seeking further business resources
May not be applicable for those looking to start large companies
Helpful for those with limited to no startup investment
Not applicable for bank loans, investors, or other third-parties
Comes with simple and easy to use one page lean business plan

Commonly Asked Questions

How do I write a business plan?

Writing a traditional business plan can be very time consuming for new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. If you are seeking a more in-depth answer, we recommend you watch this lecture on business plan writing by Wharton school of business. In addition to these videos, we obviously recommend first doing several things:

  • Ask yourself why you are writing a business plan: Who you are preparing it or and why it is being done will guide how your should write it including the contents, level of detail and analysis required. Some investors may only require an executive summary and not a traditional business plan.
  • Choose the ‘right’ business plan template for you: If you choose to use a template, spend time to make sure that you are working with the ‘right’ one for you. There is not necessary a one size fits all template for everyone, we encourage you to review all options in this guide and select the best one for you.
  • Have advisors: The more experienced the entrepreneur, the more likely they are to have advisors and experts around them to help guide them through the process. You may rely on them heavily to support you in every aspect, or seek their opinion once it has been finalized, but to any degree always have people you can rely on to give you crucial and crucial feedback.

Should I pay someone to prepare my business plan?

Hiring someone else for writing a business plan depends on several factors and makes sense for some people but not others. On one hand, you may be able to produce a more professional business plan in a shorter amount of time.

However, if you are just starting out, the process itself can help you to think through the various aspects of your business that you might not have previously considered.

If you are seeking investor or bank loans, hiring a professional might make sense if you can afford it. We’ve reviewed the top ones here. If you cannot, or you are preparing it for your own experience and knowledge, then choosing a template and doing it yourself may be the best option.

What is typically in a business plan template?

The type of business plan template you select will dictate what is included. Some are more focused on research and strategic planning for internal use, whereas others are for explaining information to external banks or investors. Typically, however, they will cover the elements in the previous question, ‘What are the parts of a business plan?’ In terms of format,  there may be a business plan template PDF or Word Doc, so select the one you’re most familiar with.

An advantage, however, of using a business plan template is that many of them come with supplementary tutorials and exercises that will assist you in its creation. Some have free consulting services, such as SCORE, whereas others have video tutorials live LivePlan. Some merely have a company description, whereas other go into extensive detail and include a market analysis, financial projections, and outline of your target market. We encourage you to review the contents of the business plans individually to determine which best suits your needs.

What are the parts of a business plan?

There are several important areas to business plans that are generally included in addition to an executive summary, which is often one to two pages:

1) Problem: Describes the problem you are solving or what market opportunity exists.
2) Company Description: How you intend to solve this problem in the market or benefit from the market opportunity.
3) Target Market: Who your target customer is and a complete market analysis.
4) Competition: Who else is competing for your customers’ business and what you are doing differently.
5) Revenue Streams: The various revenue streams you will target and how they will be delivered.
6) Marketing Strategy: How you will come to make your business known to your target market and convert that awareness to sales through an effective marketing strategy.
7) Financial Projections: What expenses your business will incur both to startup and operate every month.
8) Business Partners: The full bios of your management team along with their roles and responsibilities.
9) Milestones: Key achievements that your business has accomplished and what you have planned.

Should I use a template or software?

There are a variety of applications that will assist you to prepare a solid business plan, investor pitch, and other documents you may require. While some entrepreneurs have had success with software based templates, others have found them to not have the same customizability and require a steeper learning curve for more advanced MS Office users.

Software can be a good alternative to those that have little to no MS Office experience and are intimidated by Microsoft Excel, a business plan PDF is another alternative. Software  allows for more guidance during their creation by assisting users along the way with helpful tips, tutorials, and examples. Those that are looking for merely a business plan template and have prior experience creating business plans, however, may find that they are more suitable for beginners and may not satisfy the requirements of a more sophisticated audience.

Should I use a free or paid template?

There are both good free and paid business plan templates available as reviewed in this guide and pros and cons to using each. The obvious con to paid business plan templates is the price and one may argue that the similarity of contents does not warrant any price with free templates from both the SBA and SCORE. However, there are two primary reasons why someone may prefer to use a paid template over a free one.

First, the free business plan template may not be updated and have all the capabilities need to meet your specific use case. If you are raising a large sum of money from a sophisticated investor, a free template may look amateurish or not cover the same rigorous analysis required. Second, free templates may come with little to no support. SCORE does have free consulting, but this may be limited and the plan itself may not have customer service.

Choosing a free business plan template or paid is ultimately your own decision and should be weighted based on your personal needs. We encourage you to at least review the free templates prior to purchasing one, so that you can explore various templates before paying. However, if you can afford it, paying a little to get something with customer service prepared by traditional business plan experts in the industry may be worthwhile.