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5 Best Free Business Plan Templates 2024

  • Business Tips

Whether you're starting a new business or looking to update your existing plan, having a well-crafted business plan is essential for guiding your growth. If you're unsure of where to begin, we've compiled a list of the top free online business plan templates specifically designed for New Zealand businesses. These templates will provide you with the necessary structure and guidance to set your goals and steer your business in the right direction.

1. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Business Plan Templates

MBIE, in collaboration with Stats NZ, has developed two Business Plan templates to cater to the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses alike. The comprehensive full business plan template, available in Word format, is specifically designed for those venturing into the world of business. It offers a ready-to-use structure complete with detailed explanations and convenient links throughout. On the other hand, the quick-focus template, presented as a PDF, is ideal for regular business health and strategy check-ins, making it perfect for quarterly or yearly assessments. Fill it out by hand for a more personalized touch.

Tip: MBIE recommends using Stats NZ’s Data for Business website to find useful business tools and statistics.

2. ANZ Biz Hub Business Plan Tool

Are you new to business planning? If so, this convenient online template is perfect for beginners. It will guide you through the process of writing a comprehensive business plan step-by-step, providing helpful prompts and tips for each section. Once you've completed your plan, you can easily download and print the finished version in Word document format.

3. One-Page Business Plan By The $100 Start-up

This template is a valuable tool for exploring innovative business ideas, as well as for experimenting with new products, services, or promotional strategies for existing businesses. It can also serve as a concise summary of your comprehensive business plan, which you can refer to during your monthly or quarterly business planning sessions.

4. Microsoft Office Business Plan Template

Microsoft Office provides a diverse selection of complimentary business document templates that seamlessly integrate with their suite of products. These templates are equipped with a variety of charts and graphs to effectively showcase your market research and forecasting data. Additionally, they offer comprehensive, step-by-step instructions throughout the templates to assist you in creating a professional and organised business plan.

Tip: Don't forget to add your logo and change the document colours and font to suit your brand

5. Strategyzer Business Model Canvas

The Strategyzer Business Model Canvas is not your typical business plan template. Instead, it is a powerful visual tool that allows you to effectively map out all the crucial elements of your business and gain a deeper understanding of how they interconnect. This canvas serves as an excellent brainstorming aid, enabling you to jot down all your brilliant ideas, important facts, and essential figures before diving into the creation of your comprehensive business plan. It's the perfect way to organise your thoughts and set a solid foundation for your future success.

Tip: Use the Business Model Canvas as a tool for running a thought-starter exercise with your team to review and refine your strategy and goals before you write your business plan.

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How to create the perfect business plan in 10 steps

Every business needs a plan. But how do you write one? Here are 10 steps to help you get it right.

A business plan written up in a notebook

What is a business plan?

A business plan is the roadmap for a business and shows the overall strategy, goals and vision for success. It shows how a business operates and how it will make money.

It’s different from a business proposal which is a pitch to sell a product or service to a prospective customer.

Why do you need a business plan?

You may be wondering why you need a plan in the first place. After all, you have a clear idea in your mind about what you want to achieve. You know the market, you have the necessary skills. So why do you need a plan?

There are many good reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • To clarify your ideas: Writing something down gives it structure and substance. Your ideas will be clearer on paper than in your head.
  • To discover and solve problems: The business idea you have in mind may have some holes – you might not have covered everything. This will become much more apparent when your words are on the page.
  • To get feedback from others: A properly written business plan can be shared with trusted people to get their advice.
  • As a formal document: Banks, investors, accountants and lawyers will want proof that you’re serious about your business. A written plan will provide that proof.
  • To guide you as your business grows: A good business plan will keep you on track and focused, even as day-to-day work becomes a distraction.

If you’ve never written a business plan before, it can be a daunting prospect. But these 10 steps will help you create the perfect business plan.

1. The executive summary

This is where you describe your company and the product or service that it will sell. This must be brief, to catch and hold people’s attention.

Try to describe the goal and mission of your business in just a couple of sentences. Work hard at this and try to make it memorable.

Treat this section as an elevator pitch document – it should be succinct and easy to remember.

You can read more about how to create the executive summary in our guide What is an Executive Summary in a Business Plan?

2. Who are your customers?

Do you have a clear idea of the type of people (or businesses) who will buy your product or service? If not, think carefully until you do.

This is one of the first questions any investor will ask you about your business plan. Have your answers ready.

  • Know whether your customers will be consumers or businesses. If they are businesses, who will you target within those companies? Maybe it’s the salesperson, or perhaps it’s the CEO?
  • Determine whether you'll have regular clients or one-off buyers.
  • Make sure you’ve actually spoken to some of your potential customers.

3. Evaluate the target audience

There’s no room for guessing here. You need to identify the people or businesses who will buy from you. Think about the following:

  • Demographics – such as age, gender and social status
  • Firmographics – includes size of the company, revenue of the company and services or products of the company
  • Location – perhaps a specific area, town, or even country
  • Profession – maybe you’re targeting accountants, police or lawyers, for example
  • Groups – such as people with shared interests or habits

The better you evaluate your target audience, the more comprehensive your business plan will be.

4. What are your opportunities?

Successful businesses think big. You might be starting small, but you don’t have to stay that way. So write down the possible opportunities for your business as it grows.

For example, perhaps you’re planning to start by selling over the internet. That’s great, but how will you get traffic to your site? How will people find you online? Will you need salespeople? If not, how will you convince people to buy from you?

As the business grows, is there scope for a bricks-and-mortar retail outlet? What other opportunities will you have if your business grows as planned?

5. Understand the competition

Every business has competition. If you don’t mention yours, investors will think you’re unprofessional – or just plain naive. Be thorough, and list all your existing and potential competitors:

  • Who are your direct competitors – those selling the same products as you?
  • Who are your indirect competitors – those whose market overlaps yours?
  • What will prevent other companies competing with you – what are the barriers to entry?
  • What is your USP (unique selling proposition)? In other words, what’s your point of difference that makes you different from your competitors?

That last point is important. You need to explain how your business will differentiate itself from all the others. That might be based on price, service, quality, range or value. Make sure you spell it out.

6. Build a simple financial plan

All business plans should contain some financial information. This should include the overall costs of setting up your business. For example:

  • Cost to make or buy products
  • Costs for labour and manufacture, including raw materials
  • Employee costs, especially for service businesses
  • Distribution and marketing costs
  • Fixed and variable overheads

Good accounting software will help you create a draft financial model. We’ll look into this in more detail in a future guide. For now, talk to your accountant or bookkeeper for help and advice.

7. Include an outline marketing plan

For this section of your business plan, you need to think about the five ‘Ps’:

  • Pricing – how will you price the end product?
  • Positioning – how does your product or service fit into the market?
  • Promotion – what channels will you use to attract and communicate with customers?
  • Profit – how much do you expect to make per item sold?
  • Place – what are your sales outlets?

8. Plan your operations

Put your vision to one side for a moment. What are the daily tasks that need to be done when running the business? Include all business processes such as manufacturing and packaging. Try to cover all departments too, including sales and customer service.

9. Get the right people

This is one of the most important factors. Think about who you want to hire . How will you find people whose skills complement yours? And how will you convince them to work for you?

Also think about who you want as your business advisors. You'll need people you can trust, to guide and mentor you at times when you need it.

10. Simplicity is the key

Keep it simple. Complex and long documents won’t be read – either by you or by potential investors. A business plan should be brief, relevant and focused (you can use our free business plan template ).

If you find yourself getting carried away while writing, stop and take a break. Then go back and edit what you’ve written. Shorter is better. The core of a good business plan should be just a few pages long.

Plan your business around your strengths

As you write your business plan , keep in mind your strengths – and also any areas for improvement. This will help you construct a plan that makes the most of your abilities, while still being realistic. That's more likely to convince investors that you're serious.

Your business plan is a roadmap for your business – but it's not set in stone. Review it at least once a year and make changes if necessary.

Above all, keep getting feedback from your advisors – official and unofficial ones. With their help, you'll create the perfect business plan that takes you where you want to go.

Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

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Free business plan template for small business

Create a professional business plan with our our easy-to-use business plan template., the importance of a business plan.

Writing a business plan gives your business the best chance of success helping you to flesh out your business proposal, outline key business processes and gives an action plan of what you want to achieve over time. While it can seem overwhelming, the time and effort you put in is worth it for your long-term success. Use our free business plan template below to get you started!

business plan nz template

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Business plan template FAQs

What should a business plan include.

A business plan consists of a single document with different sections that represent different aspects of your business. Most business plans include the following:

  • Business overview
  • Executive summary
  • Team & Management
  • Product & Services
  • Market Analysis
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Marketing & Promotions
  • Financial Analysis
  • Future & Goals

How do you write a business plan?

Writing a multi page business plan when you are just starting out can seem overwhelming. The key to getting started is to keep it simple and add to it as you grow. Start with key headings (or use our template) and some bullet points mapping out your business overview, vision, market analysis and financial forecasts.

Tips for writing a business plan?

Check out this blog article for more information

7 Tips for writing a Business Plan >

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How to write a business plan in 12 steps (2024 edition)

26 June 2024

This guide breaks down how to write a business plan, step-by-step, detailing what your document needs to include and what you need to think about to make your business plan as persuasive as possible.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is an essential document that can provide immense value for new and existing companies of all sizes. It is an overview that includes an outline of your business, its key objectives and plan for achieving important goals.

This information can be used to communicate strategic actions to internal teams and also attract interest from potential partners and investors. However, writing a business plan can be a lengthy and involved process. For many, using a business plan template can be a good way to get started.

For best results, you’ll need to do a lot of thinking and planning before you start writing your business plan. This way you have all the information and resources you need at your fingertips and won’t be under time pressure to come up with something at the last minute. After all, a well-thought-out business plan can help you avoid generic information and set your company up for success.

Download your free business plan template .

Why write a business plan?

Writing your business plan helps to get your strategy nailed down and onto the page. A plan that stays in your head is probably going to be full of unrealistic assumptions and biases, whereas a strategically thought-out and organised approach forces you to notice your blind spots and find a way forward.

If you’re looking for financing, a bank or investor needs to be persuaded by your business proposal and the opportunity to work with you. Therefore, a well-written business plan can help provide potential financial partners with the confidence that your business can become profitable. Your business plan gives them a comprehensive view of all aspects of your business and details your strategy for achieving your goals.

What are the main sections of a business plan?

Whatever your line of work, your business plan will generally need to provide the following:

An executive summary

A business overview

The market opportunity

Your products/services

Frequently asked questions about writing a business plan:

When to write a business plan.

Typically, entrepreneurs write their business plans within the first year of operations. A business plan is a tool that helps business owners refine their strategy, attract partners and financiers, and grow their business.

If a business plan is written too soon, it may lack the substance that comes with time in the market. However, it’s important to note that a business plan is not a static document - it can and should change as the business evolves.

How long should your business plan be?

There are no hard and fast rules around how long your business plan should be - it just needs to include all the relevant information. Aim for clear, concise sections and build a business plan that is as easy to read and navigate as possible.

Using a business plan template can help you make sure you have everything covered off, while also having a document that looks as professional as possible. Make sure you run a spelling and grammar check too - any sloppy errors can undermine your credibility.

What’s a business plan on a page?

It’s important to write your business plan as it helps to embed your strategy - as well as communicate what you’re about to potential partners or investors. When you have a comprehensive business plan you can easily adapt it to suit different audiences. For example, a full business plan is essential for raising capital but a business plan on a page may be enough for potential partners or employees.

What do venture capitalists look for in a business plan?

Venture capitalists invest money into businesses with the goal of achieving a return on their investment within the short to medium term. As a result, they’re looking for an attractive market opportunity, a clear point of differentiation, a strong management team, a proven track record, solid financials and, importantly, an exit opportunity.

How to write a business plan

Make sure you cover off each of the following steps when preparing your document:

1. Write an executive summary

This section of your business plan should be 1–2 pages in length and enables potential financiers or partners to get an overview of what your business does and – most importantly — what the opportunity is for them. If they’re interested in the opportunity, they’ll conduct their own due diligence - and this will start with going through your business plan and financials.

It’s a good idea to write your executive summary last, when you’ve clarified your thinking around every section of the document. As an overview section, you don’t want to add any new content that isn’t in your business plan. Aim to keep this summary succinct and engaging by using simple, plain language, as this is much more persuasive than complicated or academic wording.

Use sub-headings and bullet points to help your most important information stand out, especially as busy executives may simply scan your executive summary and use this to decide whether they want to find out more.

What to include in an executive summary?

Make sure you include details on:

What your business does

What the opportunity is

What your unique selling points / differentiators are

How much funding you’re looking for

What the funding will be used for

How you'll succeed

Remember, you’re providing the big picture overview of your business - the detail is in the rest of the document and in the appendices.

2. Write your business overview

This section of your business plan needs to be more than just a list of what your business does. Its purpose is to excite those you’re hoping will work with you or help to fund your business.

Information to address includes:

What's the purpose of your business?

What problem does your business’ product or service solve?

What niche could it fill?

What’s different about your offering?

How are you better than anyone else at what you do?

Consider what your customer value proposition is by deciding what you want to achieve and what your number 1 benefit is for your customer.

3. Identify your USP

Think about what your unique selling points (USP) or differentiators are, and what proof-points you can provide to back them up. For example, you can use terms like “market-leading” but if you don’t provide any evidence to back up your claims, your reader will take them with a big pinch of salt!

You should certainly reference any awards or endorsements that position you as the best person to provide your product or service, as well as any client testimonials. Make sure you include any education or experience that makes you an expert in your field as well.

4. Describe the market opportunity

Show you understand your industry, market and where you fit in it. While no-one can predict the future, offer up where you think the opportunity is for your business and make sales projections based on that. 

For example, imagine your business is selling personalised cookies - there's little competition in your area and you see your market opportunity to create designs for all calendar and holiday events. You expect to increase sales by 30% in one year and 50% in three years, driven primarily by word-of-mouth referrals.

Make sure you also consider macro trends that may create opportunities for you, such as social, environmental, or technological changes that may affect buying behaviour.

5. Include a SWOT analysis

Whatever your business strengths or opportunities, they’ll always be known and unknown weaknesses and threats; there’s no such thing as certainty in business or in life! However, you can demonstrate that you’ve examined your business through different lenses and have a thorough understanding of it by doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

Don’t worry about drawing attention to your business’ shortcomings - every opportunity has them and it’ll give investors and partners confidence in you that you won't bury your head in the sand. Naturally, it's important that you specify what you’re going to do to address these weaknesses and counter these threats.

Here are some areas you can think about to get started: reputation, technology, location, experience, staff, overheads, competition, suppliers and price.

6. Present a competitor analysis

Let’s face it, no matter what industry you’re in, or what you’re selling, there’s going to be other businesses offering the same thing. But instead of worrying about the competition, use this as a positive opportunity to up your game and work out the unique advantages you have that will keep you competitive.

Identify your top 3 competitors and analyse what they're doing well and where they’re coming up short. Try to be as objective as possible and identify how to differentiate yourself from them. You should also look into who the industry leaders are and what the benchmarks are for your industry so that you can set yourself targets for continuous improvement.

7. Create a customer persona

A customer persona is a fictional person who represents your company's ideal customer. Naturally, the persona can be based on a real person - the more you get to know your ideal customer, the more targeted and successful your marketing efforts will be.

To create a customer persona, you need to conduct research into your ideal customer’s age, sex, income, employment, daily activities, interests and hobbies. If you’re feeling unsure about your customer persona, you may need to give your ideal customer further thought and download the customer persona template to get started.

8. Write your marketing strategy

When you’ve created your customer persona, you need to work out how you’re going to reach them. Do they hang out on social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or LinkedIn? Or are they more used to local, traditional marketing like free local papers or high foot traffic areas?

Once you’ve figured where your audience is likely to hang out, you can outline your strategies for promoting and advertising your products or services in the next 12 months. Make a list of the marketing channels you’ll use to achieve your advertising strategy and be sure to include your budget. How much can you set aside for advertising? And where are you most likely to see a return on your efforts? Paid ads on Facebook? Half or full paid spreads in an industry magazine? Or even a direct mail out? 

For more structured help around this, check out free course: Business 101 | Get social with your business on Facebook.  

9. Design your customer retention strategy

Business success relies heavily on the relationship you’re able to build with your customers. What techniques will you use to keep them coming back? Consider the following:

What can your business do to increase the number of repeat customers? 

Does your business have a referral or loyalty program? 

Do you have a post-purchase follow up in place?

Will you use surveys to track customer satisfaction?

What ways can you continue delivering outstanding service?

Is there a way to continue educating and adding value to your customers?

10. Present your financials

Most people who are looking at investing their time and/or money in your business will want to see your financial statements - your performance to date and your projections over the short and medium term. They'll also want to know how much you’ve received in funding to date and what these other sources of funding are - including your own investment.

Current finances

You need to show how your business has performed financially over the last year, highlighting metrics such as positive cashflow, net profit and assets.

Financial forecasts

You should also provide a balance forecast projecting total assets, total liabilities and net assets over 1, 2 and 3 years, and a profit and loss forecast for the same periods detailing gross profit/net sales, total expenses and net profit/loss. Finally, you should also provide a cashflow forecast month by month over the next year.

It’s also a good idea to speak to an expert like an accountant or bookkeeper about your finances and get advice on how best to present them in this all-important section of your business plan.

11. Detail how much funding is needed

Naturally, you also need to be very clear about how much money you’re looking for and what you plan to do with it. If you’re looking for a loan, you need to detail what it’s for, over what period it’ll be repaid, and what collateral you have to secure it.

12. Propose an exit strategy

Any financial stakeholder in your business will want a return on investment. If you’re pursuing this type of funding, you should include some detail on your proposed exit strategy. For example, do you want to sell the company at some point or go public?

Similarly, you should outline your succession plan so the business can continue to operate if you decide to step away from it. Likewise, you need a plan for what happens if the business loses money and can’t sustain itself. Documenting this means that everyone is on the same page and potential investors have this information upfront.

Where to go for help or more information?

There are many great resources out there to help you fine-tune your business strategy and write your business plan. The New Zealand Government has a comprehensive website dedicated to supporting businesses at all stages of their journey.

You can also get help from Business Enterprise Centres, business advisors, accountants and fellow business owners. MYOB also has a list of business advisors who can give you feedback on your business plan, so your venture has the very best chance of success. 

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Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses (2024)

Use this free business plan template to write your business plan quickly and efficiently.

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A good business plan is essential to successfully starting your business —  and the easiest way to simplify the work of writing a business plan is to start with a business plan template.

You’re already investing time and energy in refining your business model and planning your launch—there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing a business plan. Instead, to help build a complete and effective plan, lean on time-tested structures created by other  entrepreneurs and startups. 

Ahead, learn what it takes to create a solid business plan and download Shopify's free business plan template to get started on your dream today. 

What this free business plan template includes

  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Products or services offered
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financial plan

This business plan outline is designed to ensure you’re thinking through all of the important facets of starting a new business. It’s intended to help new business owners and entrepreneurs consider the full scope of running a business and identify functional areas they may not have considered or where they may need to level up their skills as they grow.

That said, it may not include the specific details or structure preferred by a potential investor or lender. If your goal with a business plan is to secure funding , check with your target organizations—typically banks or investors—to see if they have business plan templates you can follow to maximize your chances of success.

Our free business plan template includes seven key elements typically found in the traditional business plan format:

1. Executive summary

This is a one-page summary of your whole plan, typically written after the rest of the plan is completed. The description section of your executive summary will also cover your management team, business objectives and strategy, and other background information about the brand. 

2. Company overview

This section of your business plan will answer two fundamental questions: “Who are you?” and “What do you plan to do?” Answering these questions clarifies why your company exists, what sets it apart from others, and why it’s a good investment opportunity. This section will detail the reasons for your business’s existence, its goals, and its guiding principles.

3. Products or services offered

What you sell and the most important features of your products or services. It also includes any plans for intellectual property, like patent filings or copyright. If you do market research for new product lines, it will show up in this section of your business plan.

4. Market analysis

This section includes everything from estimated market size to your target markets and competitive advantage. It’ll include a competitive analysis of your industry to address competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Market research is an important part of ensuring you have a viable idea.

5. Marketing plan

How you intend to get the word out about your business, and what strategic decisions you’ve made about things like your pricing strategy. It also covers potential customers’ demographics, your sales plan, and your metrics and milestones for success.

6. Logistics and operations plan

Everything that needs to happen to turn your raw materials into products and get them into the hands of your customers.

7. Financial plan

It’s important to include a look at your financial projections, including both revenue and expense projections. This section includes templates for three key financial statements: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement . You can also include whether or not you need a business loan and how much you’ll need.

Business plan examples

What do financial projections look like on paper? How do you write an executive summary? What should your company description include?  Business plan examples  can help answer some of these questions and transform your business idea into an actionable plan.

Professional business plan example

Inside our template, we’ve filled out a sample business plan featuring a fictional ecommerce business . 

The sample is set up to help you get a sense of each section and understand how they apply to the planning and evaluation stages of a business plan. If you’re looking for funding, this example won’t be a complete or formal look at business plans, but it will give you a great place to start and notes about where to expand.

Example text in a business plan company overview section

Lean business plan example

A lean business plan format is a shortened version of your more detailed business plan. It’s helpful when modifying your plan for a specific audience, like investors or new hires. 

Also known as a one-page business plan, it includes only the most important, need-to-know information, such as:

  • Company description
  • Key members of your team
  • Customer segments

💡 Tip: For a step-by-step guide to creating a lean business plan (including a sample business plan), read our guide on how to create a lean business plan .

Example text in a business plan's marketing plan section

Benefits of writing a solid business plan

It’s tempting to dive right into execution when you’re excited about a new business or side project, but taking the time to write a thorough business plan and get your thoughts on paper allows you to do a number of beneficial things:

  • Test the viability of your business idea. Whether you’ve got one business idea or many, business plans can make an idea more tangible, helping you see if it’s truly viable and ensure you’ve found a target market. 
  • Plan for your next phase. Whether your goal is to start a new business or scale an existing business to the next level, a business plan can help you understand what needs to happen and identify gaps to address.
  • Clarify marketing strategy, goals, and tactics. Writing a business plan can show you the actionable next steps to take on a big, abstract idea. It can also help you narrow your strategy and identify clear-cut tactics that will support it.
  • Scope the necessary work. Without a concrete plan, cost overruns and delays are all but certain. A business plan can help you see the full scope of work to be done and adjust your investment of time and money accordingly.
  • Hire and build partnerships. When you need buy-in from potential employees and business partners, especially in the early stages of your business, a clearly written business plan is one of the best tools at your disposal. A business plan provides a refined look at your goals for the business, letting partners judge for themselves whether or not they agree with your vision.
  • Secure funds. Seeking financing for your business—whether from venture capital, financial institutions, or Shopify Capital —is one of the most common reasons to create a business plan.

Why you should you use a template for a business plan

A business plan can be as informal or formal as your situation calls for, but even if you’re a fan of the back-of-the-napkin approach to planning, there are some key benefits to starting your plan from an existing outline or simple business plan template.

No blank-page paralysis

A blank page can be intimidating to even the most seasoned writers. Using an established business planning process and template can help you get past the inertia of starting your business plan, and it allows you to skip the work of building an outline from scratch. You can always adjust a template to suit your needs.

Guidance on what to include in each section

If you’ve never sat through a business class, you might never have created a SWOT analysis or financial projections. Templates that offer guidance—in plain language—about how to fill in each section can help you navigate sometimes-daunting business jargon and create a complete and effective plan.

Knowing you’ve considered every section

In some cases, you may not need to complete every section of a startup business plan template, but its initial structure shows you you’re choosing to omit a section as opposed to forgetting to include it in the first place.

Tips for creating a successful business plan

There are some high-level strategic guidelines beyond the advice included in this free business plan template that can help you write an effective, complete plan while minimizing busywork.

Understand the audience for your plan

If you’re writing a business plan for yourself in order to get clarity on your ideas and your industry as a whole, you may not need to include the same level of detail or polish you would with a business plan you want to send to potential investors. Knowing who will read your plan will help you decide how much time to spend on it.

Know your goals

Understanding the goals of your plan can help you set the right scope. If your goal is to use the plan as a roadmap for growth, you may invest more time in it than if your goal is to understand the competitive landscape of a new industry.

Take it step by step

Writing a 10- to 15-page document can feel daunting, so try to tackle one section at a time. Select a couple of sections you feel most confident writing and start there—you can start on the next few sections once those are complete. Jot down bullet-point notes in each section before you start writing to organize your thoughts and streamline the writing process.

Maximize your business planning efforts

Planning is key to the financial success of any type of business , whether you’re a startup, non-profit, or corporation.

To make sure your efforts are focused on the highest-value parts of your own business planning, like clarifying your goals, setting a strategy, and understanding the target market and competitive landscape, lean on a business plan outline to handle the structure and format for you. Even if you eventually omit sections, you’ll save yourself time and energy by starting with a framework already in place.

Business plan template FAQ

What is the purpose of a business plan.

The purpose of your business plan is to describe a new business opportunity or an existing one. It clarifies the business strategy, marketing plan, financial forecasts, potential providers, and more information about the company.

How do I write a simple business plan?

  • Choose a business plan format, such as a traditional or a one-page business plan. 
  • Find a business plan template.
  • Read through a business plan sample.
  • Fill in the sections of your business plan.

What is the best business plan template?

If you need help writing a business plan, Shopify’s template is one of the most beginner-friendly options you’ll find. It’s comprehensive, well-written, and helps you fill out every section.

What are the 5 essential parts of a business plan?

The five essential parts of a traditional business plan include:

  • Executive summary: This is a brief overview of the business plan, summarizing the key points and highlighting the main points of the plan.
  • Business description: This section outlines the business concept and how it will be executed.
  • Market analysis: This section provides an in-depth look at the target market and how the business will compete in the marketplace.
  • Financial plan: This section details the financial projections for the business, including sales forecasts, capital requirements, and a break-even analysis.
  • Management and organization: This section describes the management team and the organizational structure of the business.

Are there any free business plan templates?

There are several free templates for business plans for small business owners available online, including Shopify’s own version. Download a copy for your business.

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How to write a business plan.

A good business plan is essential when thinking about starting a new venture. It will help you apply for business finance and keep your vision on track once things are up and running. Here are four steps to help you create and implement an effective business plan.

1. Set out your strategic vision

Ask yourself what your company stands for. Think of everything you'd want a potential investor, partner, employee or customer to know about it. This includes:

  • Vision statement: Should be brief and aspirational, yet achievable. Take the time to get it right. Try to sum up in one sentence what your business is all about, where you want it to go and how you'll get there
  • Unique selling proposition (USP): Sets out why you believe customers will come to you rather than a competitor. What makes your business unique?
  • Target market identification: While you don't want to limit your customer base, the clearer picture you have of your target market, the easier it will be to communicate with them. You may initially have to assume who you think your customers are, but once your business is live you should be able to update this using real sales data
  • Explanation of products and services: Should be designed in line with your USP and meet the needs of your target market
  • Key goals: Must be measurable, achievable and consistent with the financial plan
  • Capital requirements: How much will you need to start and run the business and where will you get the funding? Amounts should be supported by calculations in the financial plan

2. Set out the details

Now it's time to see how your vision will work. Who will help you bring it to life? What business structure are you considering? Here are some other things to include:

History and structure

Outline your business' background and introduce key people like employees, managers, partners and investors.

Goals and milestones

Set out major business goals for the period covered by the plan, plus various milestones you want to reach along the way. Make these goals specific and measurable, so you can see your progress further down the track.

Competitors

Do a detailed analysis of the competitive landscape, including:

  • Information on the industry
  • Size and characteristics of the target market
  • Your competitors' strengths and weaknesses

SWOT analysis

Put your business model to the test by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your idea and potential opportunities and threats in the market you will be operating in.

Strengths What does, or will, your business do well? What makes you better than the competition?

Weaknesses What doesn't your business do well at the moment and how will you improve this?

Opportunities Where are the areas for growth, both within and outside of the business?

Threats What are the external factors that could change or threaten your business?

Business assets

Identify what you have already and what you need, including:

  • Plant and equipment
  • Information systems
  • Intellectual property

Business strategy considerations

Sales & Marketing

  • What's the best way to reach your customers?
  • What is your budget for sales and marketing? How will you get repeat business?
  • How can you collect useful data on your customers? For example, loyalty programmes, customer relationship management systems, online sales channels.
  • How will you use this data to create targeted and relevant messages?
  • Where will you be located?
  • Can you work from home initially? This may help to keep your costs down early on.
  • Do you need resource consent for your premises or operations?
  • What IT infrastructure will you need?
  • How will you get your product to market?
  • What about insurance?
  • Have you thought about your supply network?
  • What is your business continuity plan? If disaster strikes, it's important to have contingency plans in place to ensure your business can trade afterwards.
  • List your start-up costs and capital requirements as well as your projected cash flow, profit and loss and balance sheet forecasts and a break-even analysis.
  • Budgets showing costs, income and cash flow are particularly important for seasonal businesses.
  • As a rule of thumb, when it comes to finances and forecasting, be conservative; double your expenditure and halve your sales forecasts.
  • Do you have enough money to get up and running as well as cover costs in the short term?
  • When will your business turn over enough money to be profitable?

3. Make necessary changes

Writing your business plan may bring up questions about your business, and once you reach the end you may not be happy with certain parts of your plan or your prospective day-to-day operations. Before finishing, ask yourself:

  • How can I counter the strengths of my competitors?
  • How can I overcome the weak points in my business plan?
  • Do the assumptions I’ve made based on various financial projections make sense?

Also, you might consider sharing your plan with others to sense check it.

4. Put the plan to work

Once it's ready, treat your business plan as a guide to running your business. Remember that it's a working document, so if your goals and circumstances change, update the plan. The business.govt.nz website has some great tools and templates to help get your business started.

Keep reading

Five things you need to do before starting a business, how to write a financial plan, naming your business, what's next, small business banking.

Every business is different and has unique banking needs, discover your options.

Find out more

This page is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and should not be relied on. This information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend you seek independent professional advice and contact Inland Revenue before acting on this information.

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Creating a business plan.

A thorough business plan is priceless for any business - if you're trying to grow your business in a crowded marketplace, it could be your biggest asset.

Current state vs future goals.

Think about where your business is now and where you want it to be in five years' time. You should make note of this in an executive summary that introduces your business plan. It's best to write the summary after you finish writing the plan itself.

The purpose of your business.

The first part of your business plan should detail the reason for your business - its purpose. Detail your business structure, the number of staff you have, your physical address and region where you're based. You may have locations spread out across New Zealand or the world if you export.

Explain how your business is different from your competition, the products or services you've developed, and define your competitive advantage. Consider:

  • Where the opportunities are for your business - are there gaps in the market that you can exploit with a new product or service?
  • Your strengths and weaknesses - what does your business do well and where is there space for improvement? For example, do you have outstanding customer service?
  • Any threats to your business on the horizon - are you aware of any new competitors or marketing campaigns from your rivals that could impact heavily on your bottom line?

Formulate a SWOT analysis

Have a brainstorming session with your staff to identify your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can even ask your loyal customers for their opinions.

A SWOT analysis helps you pinpoint the positives and negatives of your business, both internally and in your control (strengths and weaknesses), and externally and outside of your control (opportunities and threats).

Free business plan template

There's a handy business plan template available on the Business.govt.nz website.

Your competitive advantage.

A competitive advantage is simply what you do better than anyone else. It's important to be specific about why consumers choose your business over your competitors' businesses. What exactly is it about your operation that is an advantage?

  • Prime location - say you have a burger joint that's in a prime location, on the main street with huge foot traffic. Your competitors are off the main street, giving you a key competitive advantage over them
  • Regular cut-price discounts - perhaps you sell electronics and are well known for having sales competitors can't match every two weeks. This would mean your sales can be marketed as a main advantage
  • Personalised after-sales service - perhaps you have a business that sells and installs ovens, and sends staff to people's homes one month after each sale. If competitors aren't offering similar after-sales service, this is a crucial competitive advantage.

The smarter you can be about developing and promoting your competitive advantage, the better placed your business will be to succeed. Be careful not to generalise with words like 'price' or 'quality' - you have to be more specific.

Scope out your competitors.

When building your business plan, describe your main competitors. Consider all possibilities - you may have competitors on the same street, elsewhere in your town or city, throughout the country, worldwide and on the Internet. As soon as new competitors enter the market, you'll want to know about them too.

There may be competitors who aren't in your precise sector of business, but you may still be competing with them for the same consumer dollar.

It's a good idea to also do a SWOT analysis on each of your main competitors. Then make use of this information by assessing how your business could reduce your competitors' strengths and opportunities, while taking advantage of their weaknesses and threats.

No market without marketing.

How you'll position your business in the marketplace and how you'll continue to trade in the long-term should be answered with an intelligent marketing strategy. Plan your marketing budget and how you'll use it to help return a profit.

Market research will enable you to focus your marketing budget on targeted consumers, rather than just sporadic advertising. Detail how you're going to get the information you need to target potential consumers with channels such as print, TV, radio, social media, paid search, online display or email.

Position your product or service

Take into account the four Ps of marketing when coming up with your strategy. They are:

  • Product - having products (or services) that are right for the market you're promoting to
  • Price - ensure your products or services are selling for a price that will make your target customers feel like they received value for money
  • Promotion - explore the numerous opportunities to promote your offerings. Some examples include magazine ads, flyers, Facebook posts and press releases
  • Place - think about where and how you'll get your products or services to your customers. They have to be able to easily access them.

Creating a business plan is a process of thinking through all the variables that are going to affect your sales. 

Things you should know.

The material on this webpage is provided for information purposes only and is not a recommendation or opinion.

The material on this webpage does not take your particular financial situation or goal into account. We recommend you seek independent legal, financial and/or tax advice.

Links to other sites are provided for convenience only and Westpac accepts no responsibility for the availability or content of such websites.

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  1. How to write a business plan

    Call Stats NZ toll-free on 0508 525 525. Use this free template to help you write a great plan for launching your new business. A business plan helps you set goals for your business, and plan how you're going to reach them. When you're starting out it's a good idea to do a full and thorough business plan.

  2. Write a Business Plan

    Download a one-page business plan template. When you need a longer business plan. The greater the risk you're taking, the more comprehensive your plan should be. For instance, you'll need to write a long-form business plan if you're going to fund it with other people's money. ... Region New Zealand (NZD) ...

  3. Business Plan Templates

    Download the business plan template. Fill in the form to get a free business plan template as an editable PDF. We'll send a one-pager and a multi-pager to choose from. Your email address. Location. New Zealand. One page or multi-page template. Please choose an option.

  4. How to write a simple business plan

    Write down where your business is going and what you want to achieve. Your objectives should be realistic, otherwise you'll lose motivation. They should also be SMART: S pecific - if the goal is too general, you will lose focus. M easurable - so you can tell whether you're on track or need to make changes.

  5. 5 Best Free Business Plan Templates 2024

    Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Business Plan Templates. MBIE, in collaboration with Stats NZ, has developed two Business Plan templates to cater to the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses alike. The comprehensive full business plan template, available in Word format, is specifically designed for those ...

  6. The Perfect Business Plan

    But these 10 steps will help you create the perfect business plan. 1. The executive summary. This is where you describe your company and the product or service that it will sell. This must be brief, to catch and hold people's attention. Try to describe the goal and mission of your business in just a couple of sentences.

  7. Get Serious With Our Free Business Plan Template

    Both our single and multi-page templates cover all the essential elements of a business plan, including an business details, vision statement and goal setting, market strategy and customer demographics, funding and investment information. Our multi-pager adds further detail and contains helpful guidance for each section.

  8. Tools and resources

    Business.govt.nz. Our tools and resources. This is where you'll find all business.govt.nz tools, videos, quizzes and visual guides to help you: start a business and plan for growth. pay and manage staff. know what taxes and levies to pay. keep people healthy and safe. protect your IP and assets.

  9. Business plan template

    How to use our business plan template. Work your way through the template section by section, filling in the empty boxes. Try and fill in all the sections that are relevant to your business. Some of the sections may not apply to your type of business, so add or remove sections to suit you. Square brackets like these: […] indicate where you ...

  10. Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses

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  11. How to write a business plan in 12 steps (2024 edition)

    1. Write an executive summary. This section of your business plan should be 1-2 pages in length and enables potential financiers or partners to get an overview of what your business does and - most importantly — what the opportunity is for them.

  12. Introduction to business planning

    Regular business planning helps you: have a clear plan of where you're going and the path ahead. build a business that best suits you and your lifestyle. understand your current business skills and identify any gaps. spot opportunities that can help you reach your end goal. use your resources wisely — without a plan you can end up spreading ...

  13. Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses (2024)

    Our free business plan template includes seven key elements typically found in the traditional business plan format: 1. Executive summary. This is a one-page summary of your whole plan, typically written after the rest of the plan is completed. The description section of your executive summary will also cover your management team, business ...

  14. PDF How to use this business plan template

    Small Business Business plan template. If you're considering establishing or purchasing a small business, it's important that you have a business plan. A plan will help provide you with an essential road map for your new business. It will also provide you with benchmarks against which you can measure the success of your activities as you ...

  15. 5 Tips for Your New Zealand Business Plan

    The New Zealand business.govt.nz website provides a free business plan template. Make sure you tailor it to the needs of your business and audience, and ask a consultant or mentor to review it before you present it to your investors. Do Not Make Empty Claims

  16. How to write a business plan

    Vision statement: Should be brief and aspirational, yet achievable. Take the time to get it right. Try to sum up in one sentence what your business is all about, where you want it to go and how you'll get there. Unique selling proposition (USP): Sets out why you believe customers will come to you rather than a competitor.

  17. Creating a business plan

    A SWOT analysis helps you pinpoint the positives and negatives of your business, both internally and in your control (strengths and weaknesses), and externally and outside of your control (opportunities and threats). Free business plan template. There's a handy business plan template available on the Business.govt.nz website.

  18. Starting a business

    Choosing a name for your business is a big decision, especially if you're planning to build a brand around it. Use our free ONECheck tool to check available business names, trade marks, web domains and social media usernames in one quick search. The tool will also guide you to your next steps. Start your search.

  19. PDF SMALL BUSINESS Business Plan Template: Help

    siness Plan Template: HelpBusiness profileThis section is where you introduce yo. rself, your business and your support team. It follows the standard order of cover sheet contact details first, followed by the Executive Summary, before touching on the backg. s and your support team.Business structureA business in New Zealand typically uses four ...

  20. PDF Business plan template

    List all the regulatory requirements for your industry and the steps you've taken to comply with them. 4. SWOT ANALYSIS. Identify your business's internal Strengths, Weaknesses, and external Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). Use your SWOT analysis above to explain your choice of strategic direction.

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    8. Plan of attack. Get going. 9. Overcoming barriers 10. To-do list. Strategies and business plans need to be lived and breathed, not put on a shelf and forgotten . about. Use this template to make sure you're focused on the right things, every day. This is a great to. ol if: • you already have a business plan or strategy but things are ...

  23. Write your business plan

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