How to Write a Simple Business Plan (w/ Example)

Small businesses provide employment for the majority of Americans and play a crucial role in the American economy, but a significant portion of start-up businesses fail. While there are many factors that can lead to failure, one of the best ways to avoid failure is by creating a simple business plan that provides a roadmap of what you want your new business to be and how you will accomplish your goals.

At Addition Financial, our business members often come to us for loans, credit cards and other types of financing. We always want to look at a simple business plan to help us understand the business and its goals, as well as its existing financial picture and financial forecast.

We recognize that writing a business plan can be a daunting prospect. Here’s our guide to how to write a simple business plan with a business plan example for you to use in creating your own plan.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that provides an overview of where your company is now and a roadmap that lays out how you will get to where you want to be. Every business, regardless of whether it is a start-up enterprise or a well-established company, should have a business plan.

There are two main ways that having a business plan can help you:

  1. You can present it to potential investors or lenders to provide them with important details about your business finances and acquire the capital you need to pursue your business goals.
  2. You can use it internally to help you map out how you will achieve your goals, including specific growth strategies.

In both instances, your business plan serves as a tool that makes it easy to see the current value and potential future value of your business.

What is the Best Type of Business Plan?

There are several types of business plans that you may have read about. Here’s a quick breakdown of the three most common business plan formats with our recommendation of which plan is best for most businesses.

Startup Business Plan

A startup business plan lays out the steps to launch a new company, including details about its products or services, market analysis, information about key personnel and financial projections to present to potential investors.

Traditional Business Plan

A traditional business plan includes details about the company, including financial reports such as a balance sheet, break-even analysis, cash flow statement and sales forecast, and it can be useful both internally and externally to attract investors.

A traditional business plan is typically several pages long and may be as long as 10 pages or more.

Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan may also be referred to as a lean business plan. It serves as a snapshot of your business that you can share with investors. The focus is on presenting several key metrics to spark interest in your business.

A simple business plan may sometimes be referred to as a lean canvas and is a one-page document that can be used to start a business or to grow a business.

Growth Plan

A growth plan may also be a lean plan and is typically used to grow a specific segment of your business. For example, it may be used by a company as it expands into a new market or introduces a new product.

Growth plans have a tight focus because their purpose is to detail the resources and strategies that will be used to achieve specified growth goals.

What Should You Include in a Small Business Plan?

A good small business plan should provide you (and potential investors) with necessary information from a high level. When you’re starting a small business, you won’t have access to concrete financial information related to your profitability. Instead, your plan should focus on strategy.

Here are four areas that should be covered by your simple business plan:

  1. Your business model. How will your business make money and earn profits for investors?
  2. Your business schedule. Who will be responsible for launching your business and growing it, and when will each milestone be completed?
  3. Your business strategy. What are the goals you hope to achieve?
  4. Your growth tactics. What specific things will you do to achieve your goals?

Here are some of the things that should be included in your simple business plan:

  • Identity: A brief executive summary of your business idea.
  • Problem: What issue are you solving for your target market?
  • Solution: How you will solve your customers’ problem (including descriptions of your products or services as well as others on the market).
  • Team: Who do you need on your team to reach your goals?
  • Unique value proposition: What makes your business different from others offering similar solutions?
  • Competitive advantage: What do you have to offer that won’t be easy for other businesses to duplicate?
  • Customer segments: Who are your target customers and what are their key characteristics?
  • Channels: How and where will you find your potential customers?
  • Cost structure: What are your fixed and variable costs?
  • Revenue streams: What are your planned sources of revenue and financial projections?
  • Partners and key resources: Which external partners (other businesses) and resources will you need to be successful?
  • Key metrics: What are the most important metrics and KPIs you’ll use to measure your business success?

Ultimately, your simple business plan should fit on a single page and may be supported by additional documentation. Keep in mind that you will need detailed financial projections and market research to appeal to potential investors.

new business checklist

Simple Business Plan Template

Now it’s time to show you our simple business plan template. You should refer to the previous section for a description of what to put in each panel.

Simple Business Plan Template





Unique Value Proposition

Competitive Advantage

Customer Segments


Cost Structure

Revenue Streams

Partners & Resources

Key Metrics


Because this is meant to be a one-page document, you can see that you’ll need to take a high-level view to include the information you need. You will, as we mentioned above, need to provide additional information related to your financial status and resources, to potential investors to get them comfortable with the idea of supporting your business.

What Are the Benefits of Creating a Simple Business Plan?

Using a simple or lean business plan is helpful for startups and may also be useful if you need to map out growth in a new sector or for a new product or service. Here are some of the key benefits of creating a simple business plan.

Simple Business Plans are Easy to Read and Understand

One of the downsides of a traditional business plan is that it can be difficult for people who don’t have a business or financial background to understand. Creating a simple business plan is ideal when you want to present an easy-to-understand overview of your business.

Simple Business Plans Take Little Time to Create

A traditional business plan may take a lot of work to create and that can delay your ability to attract investors. With a simple or lean business plan, you can create your business overview quickly and present it to potential investors to get your business off the ground.

Simple Business Plans Focus on Key Drivers for Success

One of the most important factors for small business success is focus. When you’re trying to get a business off the ground, you need to focus on the things that will help you attract customers and pay for your expenses. A lean business plan does that.

A Simple Business Plan Provides a Visual Representation of Your Business

As a business owner, it’s important to maintain a high-level view of what you hope to accomplish with your business. A lean business plan can serve that purpose, helping you keep an eye on your most important goals and what you need to achieve them.

A Simple Business Plan is Flexible and Easy to Update

Finally, a simple business plan is flexible. If your needs or goals change, you can update it quickly and use it to guide you. You can use this same model to pursue growth goals in a new sector.

Creating a simple business plan is useful for any successful business and may be helpful for companies that are expanding into new sectors or launching new products. The template we have included here is one you can use to create your own simple business plan to outline and pursue your most important goals.

Are you in need of business services to streamline your operations and free your time to do other things? Addition Financial is here to help! Click here to read about our payroll and merchant services and schedule an appointment today.

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