A common technique used to write a business plan is to use a business plan template, business plan example, or a business plan outline. You may see these terms as you browse the Web, but what do they mean?

Business plan template

A “business plan template” is a term used to describe a business plan outline that possibly has some sort of “fill in the blank” system to help you create your own plan. Using a “fill in the blank” approach to creating a business plan is not a serious way to write a plan, and it will not help you succeed in planning your business or securing financing.

“Business plan template” also is used to describe a sample business plan or general business plan outline.

Example business plan

An “example business plan” is another term that describes a sample business plan. A sample business plan is a full business plan that is either the plan of a real business or based on a real business. It shows you the actual text, financials, and charts for the business.
We have over 500 free business plans here on Bplans.com for you to view, and over 500 sample business plans contained in LivePlan that can be viewed and edited for your own plan.

Business plan outline

Another term you’ll often hear is “business plan outline.” This term is used to refer to the basic structure of a business plan. While you can find some generic business plan outlines in books or on the Web, an outline should change to fit the type of business you’re involved in. For example, the business plan outline for a restaurant should be different from the business plan outline for a day care. For this reason, we don’t recommend using generic business plan outlines.
LivePlan contains an EasyPlan Wizard that asks you questions when you first start writing your plan. As you answer the questions, the Wizard will create the correct business plan outline that you need for your specific business. It’s the fastest and easiest way to create the correct business plan outline to use for your plan.

Business plan software

LivePlan If you’re looking to work with a business plan outline, example business plan, or business plan template, LivePlan is an excellent choice. It contains over 500 sample business plans which can be used to help create your own plan.

Sample business plans

The plans listed below can work as a business plan template for your plan, and are all included in LivePlan.
Studio 67 – restaurant business plan
Studio67 is a medium-sized restaurant focusing on organic foods and an intriguing atmosphere, in a prime neighborhood of Portland.

AMT Computers – computer hardware business plan
AMT is an ongoing business computer reseller that also provides service and support.

Javanet Internet Cafe – coffee shop business plan
JavaNet is a startup business that will provide a unique forum for communication and entertainment through the medium of the Internet.

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Tim BerryTim Berry

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