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A simple guide to writing a business plan

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Bank Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky


Bank Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their banks.

If you’re unfamiliar with creating a bank business plan, you may think creating one will be a time-consuming and frustrating process. For most entrepreneurs it is, but for you, it won’t be since we’re here to help. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to help you create a great business plan.

In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write a bank business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your bank as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.  

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start a bank or grow your existing bank, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your bank to improve your chances of success. Your bank business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.  

Sources of Funding for Banks

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a bank are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for banks.  

How to Write a Business Plan for a Bank

If you want to start a bank or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your bank business plan.  

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of bank you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a bank that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of banks?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan.

Company Overview

In your company overview, you will detail the type of bank you are operating.

For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of banks:

In addition to explaining the type of bank you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to questions such as:

Industry Analysis

In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the bank industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the bank industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.

The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your bank business plan:

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your bank business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: individuals, small businesses, families, and corporations.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of bank you operate. Clearly, corporations would respond to different marketing promotions than individuals, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.  

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other banks.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes trust accounts, investment companies, or the stock market. You need to mention such competition as well.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a bank business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of bank company that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide savings accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, or financial advice?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your plan, you are presenting the products and/or services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the site of your bank. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your bank located in a busy retail district, a business district, a standalone office, or purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your bank marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your bank, including reconciling accounts, customer service, accounting, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to sign up your Xth customer, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your bank to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your bank’s potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing banks. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing a bank or successfully running a small financial advisory firm.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you see 5 clients per day, and/or offer sign up bonuses? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your bank, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a bank:

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your bank location lease or a list of accounts and loans you plan to offer.  

Writing a business plan for your bank is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will understand the bank industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful bank.  

Bank Business Plan Template FAQs

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How to Write a Successful Bank Business Plan (+ Template)

Business Plan-DG

Creating a business plan is essential. Still, it can be beneficial for bank s that want to improve their strategy or raise funding.

A well-crafted business plan outlines your company’s vision and documents a step-by-step roadmap of how you will accomplish it. To create an effective business plan, you must first understand the components essential to its success.

This article provides an overview of the key elements that every bank business owner should include in their business plan.

Download the Ultimate Business Plan Template

What is a Bank Business Plan?

A bank business plan is a formal written document describing your company’s business strategy and feasibility. It documents the reasons you will be successful, your areas of competitive advantage, and it includes information about your team members. Your business plan is a critical document that will convince investors and lenders (if needed) that you are positioned to become a successful venture.

Why Write a Bank Business Plan?

A bank business plan is required for banks and investors. The document is a clear and concise guide of your business idea and the steps you will take to make it profitable.

Entrepreneurs can also use this as a roadmap when starting their new company or venture, especially if they are inexperienced in starting a business.

Writing an Effective Bank Business Plan

The following are the key components of a successful bank business plan:

Executive Summary

The executive summary of a bank business plan is a one- to two-page overview of your entire business plan. It should summarize the main points, which will be presented in full in the rest of your business plan.

Company Description

This section should include a brief history of your company. Include a short description of how your company started and provide a timeline of milestones your company has achieved.

You may not have a long company history if you are just starting your bank business. Instead, you can include information about your professional experience in this industry and how and why you conceived your new venture. If you have worked for a similar company or been involved in an entrepreneurial venture before starting your bank firm, mention this.

You will also include information about your chosen bank business model and how, if applicable, it is different from other companies in your industry.

Industry Analysis

The industry or market analysis is an essential component of a bank business plan. Conduct thorough market research to determine industry trends and document the size of your market. 

Questions to answer include:

You should also include sources for your information, such as published research reports and expert opinions.

Customer Analysis

This section should include a list of your target audience(s) with demographic and psychographic profiles (e.g., age, gender, income level, profession, job titles, interests). You will need to provide a profile of each customer segment separately, including their needs and wants.

For example, a bank business’ customers may include small businesses, large corporations, and individuals. Each customer segment will have different requirements that your bank company will need to cater to.

You can include information about how your customers decide to buy from you and what keeps them buying from you.

Develop a strategy for targeting those customers who are most likely to buy from you, as well as those that might be influenced to buy your products or bank services with the right marketing.

Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis helps you determine how your product or service will differ from competitors, and what your unique selling proposition (USP) might be that will set you apart in this industry.

For each competitor, list their strengths and weaknesses. Next, determine your areas of competitive advantage; that is, in what ways are you different from and ideally better than your competitors.

Below are sample competitive advantages your bank business may have:

Marketing Plan

This part of the business plan is where you determine and document your marketing plan. . Your plan should be laid out, including the following 4 Ps.

Operations Plan

This part of your bank business plan should include the following information:

You also need to include your company’s business policies in the operations plan. You will want to establish policies related to everything from customer service to pricing, to the overall brand image you are trying to present.

Finally, and most importantly, your Operations Plan will outline the milestones your company hopes to achieve within the next five years. Create a chart that shows the key milestone(s) you hope to achieve each quarter for the next four quarters, and then each year for the following four years. Examples of milestones for a bank business include reaching $X in sales. Other examples include expanding to new markets, launching new products and services, and hiring key personnel.

Management Team

List your team members here, including their names and titles, as well as their expertise and experience relevant to your specific bank industry. Include brief biography sketches for each team member.

Particularly if you are seeking funding, the goal of this section is to convince investors and lenders that your team has the expertise and experience to execute on your plan. If you are missing key team members, document the roles and responsibilities you plan to hire for in the future.

Financial Plan

Here, you will include a summary of your complete and detailed financial plan (your full financial projections go in the Appendix). 

This includes the following three financial statements:

Income Statement

Your income statement should include:

Sample Income Statement for a Startup Bank

Balance sheet.

Include a balance sheet that shows your assets, liabilities, and equity. Your balance sheet should include:

Sample Balance Sheet for a Startup Bank

Cash flow statement.

Include a cash flow statement showing how much cash comes in, how much cash goes out and a net cash flow for each year. The cash flow statement should include cash flow from:

Below is a sample of a projected cash flow statement for a startup bank business.

Sample Cash Flow Statement for a Startup Bank

You will also want to include an appendix section which will include:

Writing a good business plan gives you the advantage of being fully prepared to launch and grow your bank company. It not only outlines your business vision but also provides a step-by-step process of how you will accomplish it.

Now that you know how to write a business plan for your bank, you can get started on putting together your own.

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How to Write a Business Plan Outline [2022 Guide & Format]

standard bank business plan guide

When starting a business, having a well-thought-out business plan prepared is necessary for success. It serves as the foundation of your business, helps guide your strategy, and prepares you to overcome the obstacles and risks associated with entrepreneurship. In short, a business plan makes you more like to succeed.

However, like everything in business, starting is often the hardest part. What information do you need? How in-depth should each section be? How should the plan be structured?

All good questions that you can answer by following this business plan outline. 

What is a business plan outline?

Starting with a business plan outline helps ensure that you’re covering all of the necessary information to complete your plan. A traditional business plan typically includes—an executive summary, an overview of your products and services, thorough market and industry research, a marketing and sales strategy, operational details, financial projections, and an appendix. 

Depending on what you intend to do with your plan, you may not need all of this information right away. If you’re going to speak with investors or pursue funding, then yes, you’ll need to include everything from this outline. But, if you’re using your plan to test an idea or help you run your business, you may want to opt for a lean plan. This is a simpler and faster method that is designed to be updated and used day-to-day. 

If you’re unsure of which plan is right for you, check out our guide explaining the differences and use cases for each . 

What are the 7 essential parts of a business plan?

No matter the type of business plan you create, these are the seven basic sections you should include. Be sure to download your free business plan template so that you can start drafting your own plan as you work through this outline.

1. Executive summary

While it may appear first, it’s best to write your executive summary last. It’s a brief section that highlights the high-level points you’ve made elsewhere in your business plan.

Summarize the problem you are solving for customers, your solution, the target market, the founding team, and financial forecast highlights. Keep things as brief as possible and entice your audience to learn more about your company. 

Keep in mind, this is the first impression your plan and business will make. After looking over your executive summary, your target reader is either going to throw your business plan away or keep reading. So make sure you spend the time to get it just right.

2. Product and services

This is really the opportunity section of your business plan, with the products and services being how you plan to take advantage of the opportunity. You’ll need to describe the problem that you solve for your customers and the solution that you are selling. 

Lastly, if there are any major competitive products or services already in the market, it may be valuable to mention them here. Detail how you differ, what your strengths and weaknesses are in comparison, and how you’ll differentiate from what is already available. If you have any intellectual property or patents that help strengthen your position list them here as well.

3. Market analysis 

You need to know your target market —the types of customers you are looking for—and how it’s changing, and your market analysis summary will help you get clear on it. 

Use this business plan component to discuss your customers’ needs, where your customers are, how to reach them and how to deliver your product to them.

You’ll also need to know who your competitors are and how you stack up against them—why are you sure there’s room for you in this market?

4. Marketing and sales

Use this business plan section to outline your marketing plan, your sales plan, and the other logistics involved in actually running your business.

You’ll want to cover your sales channels, broad marketing activities, your pricing strategy, as well as your intended market position. This will likely evolve over time, but it’s best to include anything that clearly details how you will sell and promote your products and services. 

5. Organization and management

The company and management section is an overview of who you are.

It should describe the organization of your business, and the key members of the management team . It should also provide any historical background about your business. When your company was founded, who is/are the owner(s), what state your company is registered in and where you do business, and when/if your company was incorporated for example.

Be sure to include summaries of your managers’ backgrounds and experience—these should act like brief resumes—and describe their functions with the company. You should also include any professional gaps you intend to fill, as well as projected milestones for your business.

6. Financial projections and metrics

At the very least this section should include your projected sales forecast , profit and loss , cash flow projections, and balance sheet , along with a brief description of the assumptions you’re making with your projections.

Finally, if you are raising money or taking out loans, you should highlight the money you need to launch the business. This part should also include a use of funds report—basically an overview of how the funding will be used in business operations. 

And while it’s not required, it may be wise to briefly mention your exit strategy. This doesn’t need to be overly detailed, just a general idea of how you may eventually want to exit your business. 

7. Appendix

The end of your business plan should include any additional information to back up specific elements of your plan. More detailed financial statements, resumes for your management team, patent documentation, credit histories, marketing examples, etc. Basically, include anything that can promote your credibility as a business owner.

Free business plan template

Business plan outline template

If you’re looking for greater insight into what goes into specific planning sections, check out the following outline. It can help you develop a detailed business plan or provide guidance as to what may be missing in your current plan. 

Keep in mind that each business plan will look different depending on numerous factors , including the type of business and what you will be using the plan for. Consider the following outline to be a master version to reference and consider. Just be sure to focus on the plan type and sections that are most beneficial to your business, pitch, or overall strategic planning .

1.0 Executive Summary

1.1 problem.

A summary of the problem you are solving and an identifiable need in the market you are filling.

1.2 Solution

A description of the product or service you will provide to solve the problem.

1.3 Target Market

A defined customer base who will most likely purchase the product or service. For info on how to define your target market, check out our guide on the subject.

1.4 Competition

The current alternatives or substitutes in the market that you and your business will be competing against.

1.5 Financial Summary

Key highlights of your financial plan that covers costs, sales, and profitability.

1.6 Funding Requirements

A brief outline of the amount of money you will need to start your business. Include this if you plan on pitching to investors. 

1.7 Milestones and Traction

A roadmap of where you currently are and specific milestones you plan to hit.

2.0 Product and services

2.1 problem worth solving.

A thorough description of the problem or pain point you intend to solve for your customer base. 

2.2 Our Solution

A thorough description of your proposed product or service that alleviates the problem of your customer base.

2.3 Validation of Problem and Solution

Any data or relative information that supports your solution. If you’ve already run tests that verify your idea , this is the place to include your results.

2.4 Product Overview

A description of your product and/or service that explains what it does, who its for, and how it benefits your customers.

2.5 Competition

Any information explaining current competitive offerings and how your product differs from them.

2.6 Roadmap/Future Plans

A list of steps taken so far, along with an outline of steps you plan to take in establishing or growing your business.

3.0 Market Analysis 

3.1 market segmentation.

Potential groups of customers separated by specific characteristics.

3.2 Target market segment strategy

Your ideal customer who would most likely benefit from your business.

3.2.1 Market needs

A description of how your target market is not effectively served and how your business fulfills a need.

3.2.2 Market trends

How consumers in your target market tend to act including purchasing habits, financial trends, and any other relevant factors.

3.2.3 Market growth

The perceived potential increase or decrease in the size of your target market.

3.3 Key customers

Your ideal customer archetype who will be the main advocate for your business.

3.4 Future markets

A snapshot of the potential market based on the last few sections and how your business strategy works within it.

3.5 Competition

A list of potential competitors. Identifying the competition isn’t always obvious and it may take some digging on your part .

3.5.1 Competitors and alternatives

A list of potential indirect competitors that provide products or services that are alternatives to your business.

3.5.2 Competitive advantage 

The strategic advantage(s) that makes your target market more likely to choose you over the competition. 

4.0 Marketing and Sales

4.1 marketing plan.

An outline of your marketing and advertising strategy including costs, advertising channels, and goals.

4.2 Sales plan

An estimate of the number of sales you anticipate based on market conditions, capacity, pricing strategy, and other factors.

4.3 Location and facilities

Details of your physical business location (if necessary) including location and costs of operation.

4.4 Technology

An explanation of any new technology that defines your business.

4.5 Equipment and tools

Any required production equipment or tools and the cost associated with purchasing or renting them.

5.0 Organization and management

5.1 organizational structure.

An overview of the structure of your business including roles and responsibilities of specific employees and the flow of information between levels of the organization.

5.2 Management team

A list of potential candidates you anticipate taking on high-level management roles within your company.

5.3 Management team gaps

Any positions or areas of expertise that you currently do not have candidates ready to fill those roles.

5.4 Personnel plan

A list of potential positions that you expect to require in order to run your business effectively.

5.5 Company history and ownership

A summary of your company’s history and how it relates to planning your business.

5.6 Milestones

A detailed roadmap of specific goals and objectives you plan to achieve that will help you manage and steer your business.

5.7 Key metrics

Performance measurements that help you gauge the overall performance and health of your business.

6.0 Financial projections and metrics

Standard financial documentation that showcases the current and projected health of your business.

6.1 Revenue and sales forecast

Expected revenue and sales for the next 1-3 years, broken down into month-by-month increments for at least the first year.

6.2 Expenses

Expected or incurred costs necessary to start and operate your business.

6.3 Projected profit and loss

How much money you will bring in by selling products and/or services and how much profit you will make or lose after accounting for production costs.

6.4 Projected cash flow

Money that is expected to cycle in and out of your business. This can also include your overall cash position and cash runway.

6.5 Projected balance sheet

Expected balances for business assets, liabilities, and equity.

6.6 Personnel plan

Outline of how and who you intend to hire, what compensation will be, and how employees will fit into business operations.

6.7 Use of funds

Explanation of how funds were or will be used. This is typically meant to be shared with investors or lenders.

6.8 Exit strategy

A brief description of how you intend to eventually exit from your business. Acquisition, selling, passing along to a family member/employee, etc.

7.0 Appendix

A repository for any additional information , including charts and graphs, to support your business plan.

How to organize your business plan

There’s no real established order to business plans, aside from keeping the Executive Summary at the top. As long as you have all of the main business plan components, then the order should reflect your goals . 

If this is meant solely for your personal use, lay it out as a roadmap with similar sections grouped together for easy reference. If you’re pitching this to potential investors, lead with the stronger sections to emphasize the pitch. Then if you’re unsure of what order makes sense, then just stick to the outline in this article.

Should you include tables and charts in your business plan?

Every business plan should include bar charts and pie charts to illustrate the numbers. It’s a simple way for you, your team, and investors to visualize and digest complex financial information.

Cash flow is the single most important numerical analysis in a business plan, and a standard cash flow statement or table should never be missing. Most standard business plans also include a sales forecast and income statement (also called profit and loss), and a balance sheet .

How long should your business plan be?

There’s no perfect length for a business plan . A traditional business plan can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long depending on how much detail you include in each section. However, as we said before unless you intend to pursue funding, you likely don’t need a lengthy business plan at first.

Instead, you can start with a lean plan that can be completed in as little as 30-minutes. This one-page business plan is designed to help you get the core information down about your business. It encourages you to focus on your financials and functions moreso as a long-term management tool that’s easy to review and update regularly. 

So, if you’re pursuing funding check out our full guide on how to write a traditional business plan . If you’re looking for a faster, easier, and more effective long-term planning method, check out this guide from LivePlan on how to write a lean plan in under an hour .

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry .

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Business Plan Example and Template

Learn how to create a business plan

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that contains the operational and financial plan of a business, and details how its objectives will be achieved. It serves as a road map for the business and can be used when pitching investors or financial institutions for debt or equity financing .

Business Plan

A business plan should follow a standard format and contain all the important business plan elements. Typically, it should present whatever information an investor or financial institution expects to see before providing financing to a business.

Contents of a Business Plan

A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan:

1. Title Page

The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date, and the company logo.

2. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important section because it is the first section that investors and bankers see when they open the business plan. It provides a summary of the entire business plan. It should be written last to ensure that you don’t leave any details out. It must be short and to the point, and it should capture the reader’s attention. The executive summary should not exceed two pages.

3. Industry Overview

The industry overview section provides information about the specific industry that the business operates in. Some of the information provided in this section includes major competitors, industry trends, and estimated revenues. It also shows the company’s position in the industry and how it will compete in the market against other major players.

4. Market Analysis and Competition

The market analysis section details the target market for the company’s product offerings. This section confirms that the company understands the market and that it has already analyzed the existing market to determine that there is adequate demand to support its proposed business model.

Market analysis includes information about the target market’s demographics , geographical location, consumer behavior, and market needs. The company can present numbers and sources to give an overview of the target market size.

A business can choose to consolidate the market analysis and competition analysis into one section or present them as two separate sections.

5. Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing plan details how the company plans to sell its products to the target market. It attempts to present the business’s unique selling proposition and the channels it will use to sell its goods and services. It details the company’s advertising and promotion activities, pricing strategy, sales and distribution methods, and after-sales support.

6. Management Plan

The management plan provides an outline of the company’s legal structure, its management team, and internal and external human resource requirements. It should list the number of employees that will be needed and the remuneration to be paid to each of the employees.

Any external professionals, such as lawyers, valuers, architects, and consultants, that the company will need should also be included. If the company intends to use the business plan to source funding from investors, it should list the members of the executive team, as well as the members of the advisory board.

7. Operating Plan

The operating plan provides an overview of the company’s physical requirements, such as office space, machinery, labor, supplies, and inventory . For a business that requires custom warehouses and specialized equipment, the operating plan will be more detailed, as compared to, say, a home-based consulting business. If the business plan is for a manufacturing company, it will include information on raw material requirements and the supply chain.

8. Financial Plan

The financial plan is an important section that will often determine whether the business will obtain required financing from financial institutions, investors, or venture capitalists. It should demonstrate that the proposed business is viable and will return enough revenues to be able to meet its financial obligations. Some of the information contained in the financial plan includes a projected income statement , balance sheet, and cash flow.

9. Appendices and Exhibits

The appendices and exhibits part is the last section of a business plan. It includes any additional information that banks and investors may be interested in or that adds credibility to the business. Some of the information that may be included in the appendices section includes office/building plans, detailed market research , products/services offering information, marketing brochures, and credit histories of the promoters.

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan:

Section 1: Executive Summary

Section 2: Industry Overview

Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan

Section 5: Management Plan

Section 6: Operating Plan

Section 7: Financial Plan

Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

Related Readings

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Business Plans. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:

standard bank business plan guide

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How to get started creating your business plan.

A successful business plan can help you focus your goals and take actionable steps toward achieving them. Here’s what to consider as you develop your plan.

Regardless of whether or not you’re pitching to investors and lenders, starting a business requires a plan. A business plan gives you direction, helps you qualify your ideas and clarifies the path you intend to take toward your goal.

Four important reasons to write a business plan:

Business plan guide: How to get started

Use this exercise to gather some of the most important information. Then follow this traditional business plan guide to expand your plan and add more detailed information. Once your outline is finalized, you can share it with business partners, investors or banks as a tool to promote your concept.

A business plan isn’t necessarily a static document that you create once and then forget about. You can use it as a powerful tool by referencing it to adjust your priorities, stay on track and keep your goals in sight.

Business plan: An outline

Use this exercise to gather important information about your business.

Answer these questions to start your planning process. Your responses will provide important information about your business, which you can use as an overview to develop your plan further.


Startup capital 

Monthly expenses

Monthly income 

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Step-by-step business plan guide


SO, you're ready to take that great idea that you've had for a while and turn it into a profitable venture. To achieve that, you'll need to know how you are going to develop your business, when you are going to do it, who's going to be involved and how you will manage the finances.

The process of building your plan will focus your mind on how your new business will need to operate to give it the best chance of success.

This BizConnect guide will assist you in preparing a high-quality business plan that will help you get your start-up on the go.


Writing a business plan can be one of the most difficult tasks for the entrepreneur. In its simplest form a business plan defines where you want your business to be within a certain period of time (usually 12 months to five years) and how you plan on getting there. It's as important for starting a business as architectural plans are for constructing a building.

It is a chance to refine strategies and "make mistakes on paper" rather than in the real world, by examining the company from all perspectives, such as marketing, finance, and operations. It's a vital document to have if you are going to approach potential investors and funders. Once completed, a business plan will make you feel more confident about your ability to set up and operate the business.

Using advisors

The business plan is best written by the founder/s, but you may need professional help from an accountant or other business adviser who can provide assistance and guidance in the preparation of your business plan. However, do not let someone write the entire plan on your behalf as you must maintain control over it and have the ability to understand it.   The purpose of a business plan

Drawing up a business plan will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, key areas where you need to develop expertise and the financial risk involved in setting up the business.

It represents the dynamic process of planning and reviewing the business strategy over time, and it should be continually updated.

An entrepreneur who is launching a new business will write a business plan with the aim of attracting start-up financing, both capital investment and loans. Attracting an investor, whether it's a venture capitalist or angel investor, is no simple task. It takes time and patience. You can attract investors for your start-up with preparation, planning, strategy and proper research, all of which will shine through in the business plan.


Even if you're starting a business without outside investors and you're funding it all yourself that does not mean you don't need a business plan. In fact, if you want to minimise uncertainty and maximise your chance of success a business plan is essential. You can use it to focus on the elements of the business that are going to help you build and grow it, providing you with a blueprint.

Existing businesses

Growing or expanding an existing business requires careful planning. Owners of existing businesses have overcome many hurdles in the pre-planning and start-up stage. But they continue to face a variety of challenges. Business owners must effectively use limited resources to improve their position in the market while continuing to manage the critical aspects of their operations. To achieve long-term success, business owners must lay the foundation for future growth in the business plan.   Ideal length

A typical business plan runs 15 to 20 pages, but much will depend on the nature of your business. If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in a few pages. If you're proposing a completely new kind of business you may have to provide a more in-depth explanation. The purpose of your plan will also determine its length. If you want to use it to seek millions of rands in seed capital to start a risky venture, you may have to do a lot of explaining.

Contents of a business plan

Business plans generally include the following sections:

Table of contents: The main headings of the business plan and their page numbers. Complete this section last to ensure the numbers are correct.

Executive summary: The major points of your business plan in two pages or less.

Company overview: Your mission, vision, values, products, unique attributes, and the business opportunity or gap in the market that you plan to take advantage of.

Business environment: An analysis of your industry, your marketplace, your customers, your competition, and how you measure up against them. This will be based on the research you conducted prior to writing the business plan. Discuss why this gap exists, how you identified it and how you will fill it.

When writing about the industry, provide information about barriers to entry and how easy or difficult it is for future competitors to enter the same market and offer the same product or service as you do. Describe customers, list suppliers, name competitors and state the total size of the market, what percentage of the market share you will have, and major trends.

Company description: This is where you give an overview of the company and its business. Include the company's name, mission statement, goals and objectives, and strengths. Talk about the capabilities that give you a unique advantage over your competitors - including your management, technology, operations, distribution, service, finances and marketing. If you have a registered company name, trademarks, patents, BEE credentials and a VAT number include those details here.

Company Strategy: Your roadmap to the future (including how you'll seize opportunities and avoid threats), your growth plans, your promotional strategy and even your exit strategy.

Business model: Your business model must include information on what your company offers, what makes your offering unique, who you will sell to and how you will make your money. Consider the source of revenue, the major costs incurred in generating revenue, the profitability of the business, the investment required to get the business up and running and the critical success factors.

Strategy: How will your business compete in its specific market? Explain the strategic choices you have made including the focus of the business, how you will create a unique value proposition, what is distinctive about your business and what value there is for customers.

Management team: Provide a breakdown of the people in the business. Include founders and their qualifications and experience, a description of who will manage the business, and an organisational chart.

Marketing plan: The marketing plan should include important marketing decisions about the product or service and its value, as well as a detailed description of the target market, the product or service's positioning, the pricing strategy, the sales and distribution channels and the promotion strategy.

Operations plan: Here you must explain the daily operation of your business. It should include the business's operating cycle, where the skills and materials will be sourced from, if anything is to be outsourced and how you will manage those relationships, and the payment cycle.

Financial review: This is the state of your finances, including your income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, profit projection, and budget. The financial plan is an overview of your business's financial future. You should back up the main features of the financial plan with accurate financial projections.

Include start-up expenses and capitalisation, a 12-month profit and loss projection, a 12-month cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet at start-up and at the end of years one, and three, and a break-even calculation.

Action plan & timeline: Steps you'll take to implement your business plan to meet your goals and objectives.

Appendix: Here you can attach supporting documents like brochures and advertising, industry studies, blueprints and plans, maps and photos of locations, articles, lists of equipment, contracts, letters of support from future customers, market research studies, and detailed financial calculations and projections.

Making an impression

Nothing highlights sloppiness more than a business plan with spelling and grammar errors. Once you have completed your plan, have someone read it and copy edit the document to ensure there are no language mistakes.   Writing the Executive Summary

The executive summary is a synopsis of your full business plan and contains all the highlights of each section. It should briefly describe the company, provide details about management and their strengths, the business objectives and why it will be successful. If the business needs external funding, specify how much is needed and how it will be repaid.

Even though the topic appears first in the printed document, the executive summary is written last.

View the summary as the gateway to the rest of the plan. Get it right or your target readers - funders, partners, suppliers - will not go any further.

The first paragraph of the executive summary should generally include:

-Business name Business location What product or service you sell Purpose of the plan

Another paragraph should highlight important points, such as projected sales and profits, unit sales, profitability and keys to success.

Never waste words in a summary. It should not exceed two pages in length. Emphasise the main points of your plan and keep it brief. You are luring them in to read more of the plan, not explaining every detail.

Business Plan Template Click here to download Standard Bank's template for a business plan

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standard bank business plan guide

Free Business Plan Templates 

Posted by Elizma Burger | Jul 8, 2020 | Business |

Free Business Plan Templates 

Starting a business is one of the most nerve-racking and scariest things you’ll ever do. However, on the other side of starting, is immense reward and accomplishment. To help you get over the hurdle of having a cohesive starting plan, we compiled a list of the best free business plan templates  we could find.

Why is it essential to have a business plan? 

There are endless reasons to have a cohesive business plan, here are few:

How to start mapping out your business plan: 

A good point of departure when mapping out your business plan is to have the following:

According to  Standard Bank , a business plan should have the following:

We compiled a few free business plan templates you can use to ensure that you’re on the right path: 

Standard Bank Business Plan (word doc + PDF)

Standard Bank offers a free business plan template for SME’s. The model is invaluable coming from a financial institution that renders business loans and funding; they know the criteria they look for when considering a business loan application.

Download the template here: Business Plan Template (word doc) is a great platform that fosters and mentors small businesses. They feature an abundance of tools that are useful to small businesses.

Download the template here:

Law Depot Business Plan Template

Law Depot offers a free business plan template for new businesses. The step-by-step guide starts with selecting your industry and takes you through several steps; their mechanism seamlessly takes you through conducting SWOT analyses, marketing, product, and operations. In the end, you can download or print your personalized business plan.

Download your template here:

Microsoft Business Plan Templates

Microsoft also has a comprehensive repertoire of business plan templates. All you have to do is pick the one that suits your business. You can either edit the template online or download it as a document and edit it in that format. From PowerPoint presentations to word documents with different looks and feel, variety is abundant. Search business templates and explore what they have to offer. 

Download the templates here:

Legal Templates Business Plan Template 

Legal Templates offers an array of free business plan templates; from coffee shops to daycare businesses, clothing and retail. Select your chosen field or opt for the generic business plan. The website walks you through the various sections of a business plan.

Download the templates here:

National Intellectual Property Management Office Business Plan Template

The NIPMO government agency features a cohesive free business plan template. The guide needs you to fill in your business information.

Download the template here:

Invest time in getting your business plan right because the growth and success of your business will flow from that plan. Doing it yourself is a cost-effective way plus, it’ll help you know all the ins and outs of your business from ground-level. 

About The Author

Elizma burger.

Marketing Communication

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Download a Free Business Plan Template

What is a business plan.

The written plan of goals you want to achieve with your business, and how you want to achieve them, is called a business plan. It is a decision-making tool used when beginning or extending a venture.

Any new business requires a business plan to ensure that the business can make a profit. Fund-seeking entrepreneurs use a formal business plan to convince investors to contribute towards the capital of the business.

Existing businesses – looking to expand or change the business – also use business plans to prospect for new business, attract key employees or deal with suppliers. By revising their business plan regularly, existing companies can devise strategies to manage their companies better.

Most commonly, a business plan is used to apply for a bank loan to fund a business. To learn how to create a business plan for a bank in South Africa, see FNB and Standard Bank’s business plan guidelines. You can also download Standard Bank’s free business plan template in Word or PDF format.

A business plan consists of three primary parts:

The length of a business plan varies depending on the nature of the business and the purpose of the business plan. Typically, a business plan is 15 to 20 pages long. It usually details the goals for the business for the next three to five years.

An important part of compiling a business plan is in-depth research into the market and industry. Try to gain as much insight into the market you are targeting by talking to business owners, suppliers, potential customers, existing customers, staff members, business experts, etc. Also, research the industry online.

Business plan format

Although there are several types, the key components of all business plans are essentially the same. The format varies based on who the intended reader of the business plan is. Here is an example of a standard business plan format:

1. Table of Contents (1 page)

The table of contents page should include the correct page numbers of the sections of the business plan. Therefore, it is best to write this page last. In addition to the table of contents page, the plan must also have a cover and a title page.

2.  Executive Summary (2 pages)

The purpose of the executive summary of a business plan is to entice the reader to read the rest of the plan. The executive summary is an overview of the key aspects of the plan. It should be compelling but also concise.

The executive summary should include:

3. Company Overview (1 – 2 pages)

This section is a high-level overview of the company and the industry in which it operates. It is a description of the business, the product and the industry.

The following should be included in the company overview:

4. The Opportunity, Industry and Market Description (2 – 3 pages)

The research you conducted will come into play in this section. This section offers a detailed explanation of the market and industry and the business’ position therein.

They key is to determine who your target market is through a market analysis. Then clearly explain how your products/services will fulfil the needs of your target market. A market analysis also helps to determine pricing, distribution strategies and growth potential within the industry.

Describe the following:

5. Strategy (1-2 pages)

Detail your positioning strategy and how the business will compete in the chosen market. In other words, what is unique about your product/service and how will the target market benefit from what you have to offer.

6. Business Model Explanation (1 page)

The business model depicts how the business will make money/profit. A business model covers the following aspects:

7. Management and Organisation (2 pages)

The biographies of the members of your management team and their roles in the business. Who will be responsible for running the business and why are they well-suited to the task?

This section should include:

8. Marketing Plan (2 – 3 pages)

The marketing plan is a comprehensive explanation of your marketing strategy. In other words, how will you sell your service/product to your target market?

Your marketing plan should include:

9. Operational Plan (2 pages)

The operational plan is a description of how the business will function. Include a description of the following:

10. Financial Plan (3 – 5 pages)

A very important part of any business plan is the financial plan. It is a reasonable projection of the company’s financial future.

A good financial plan will determine how much capital the business needs to launch and/or grow. This section is especially important to potential investors and banks – who will determine the odds for the continued survival of the company based on this information.

A financial plan should include:

Income statements and cash flow projections must be generated for every month of the first year, every quarter of the second year and annually for every year thereafter. The balance sheet is only generated on an annual basis.

Short summaries of the analyses of the income statement, cash flow projection and balance sheet must also be included. Do not include too much detail in this section. Additional projections, charts and calculations must be added to the Appendix.

11. Appendix

Additional reference documents are included in the appendix. This could include:

Find more business plan examples and templates from Entrepreneur Magazine .

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SoFi Bank sues to block Biden's student loan payment pause

Collin Binkley

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A private bank is trying to force the Biden administration to end its pause on federal student loan payments , arguing the moratorium has no legal basis and has cost the bank, known for its refinancing business, millions of dollars in profits.

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Washington, SoFi Bank N.A. asked a federal judge to overturn President Joe Biden’s latest extension of the payment pause. Student loan payments first were halted at the start of the pandemic by President Donald Trump's administration. The pause has been extended eight times over three years.

The bank says its federal student loan refinancing business has suffered because borrowers have little incentive to refinance while payments and interest remain on hold . At a minimum, the lawsuit asks a judge to limit the pause only to borrowers who would be eligible for Biden’s cancellation plan.

Biden’s latest extension, which was announced in November and could stretch as far as this summer, is unlawful on “multiple grounds,” the lawsuit claims.

Unlike the first seven extensions, which were meant to help borrowers struggling as a result of the pandemic, the latest one was enacted solely in response to legal challenges to Biden’s plan for widespread student debt forgiveness, the lawsuit says. The plan is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court , which is expected to rule by June .

“The eighth extension does not even attempt to redress harm from the pandemic at all, but rather to alleviate ‘uncertainty’ caused by the debt-cancellation litigation,” SoFi says in the lawsuit.

SoFi argues that isn't a valid reason authorized by the HEROES Act, the federal law the Biden administration has invoked to continue the pause. The bank also argues the extension violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the administration failed to invite feedback from the public.

The most recent extension has cost the bank at least $6 million in lost profits, SoFi says, and it could lead to a total of $30 million in losses if it continues through August.

“In essence, SoFi is being forced to compete with loans with 0% interest rates and for which any ongoing repayment of the principal is entirely optional,” the lawsuit says.

The Education Department defended the legality of the pause, calling the lawsuit “an attempt by a multi-billion dollar company to make money while they force 45 million borrowers back into repayment.”

“The department will continue to fight to deliver relief to borrowers, provide a smooth path to repayment and protect borrowers from industry and special interests,” the agency said in a statement.

The lawsuit drew swift condemnation from borrower advocates, who called it a money grab at the expense of those struggling with student debt .

“The real story here is the huge risk this poses to tens of millions of working people who SoFi would never lend to — families across the country that depend on the student loan payment pause to shield them from financial devastation,” said Mike Pierce, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center. ___

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Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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