Free business plan template for startups

Published on 23/02/2021 by Andrew Conrad

business plan template for startups

From Brexit to COVID-19 and everything in between, trying to start a new business in 2021 might feel a bit like trying to build a sailboat while treading water in the middle of a squall at sea. 

But just because the past several years have been tumultuous doesn’t mean that the world should hunker down to safely ride out the storm. Life goes on, and the path forward includes the emergence of businesses such as yours. 

To navigate these rough waters, though, it’s important to have a sound plan in place as you start your new business. In this article, we’ll help you create a business plan for your startup. 

In this article:

  • Why do you need a business plan for your startup?
  • A business plan template for startups
  • Next steps for startups

Why do you need a business plan for your startup?

A business plan is an outline that can be used as evidence to secure loans and financial backing from investors.

Beyond just helping you secure funding for your business, a business plan can also help:

  • Organise your ideas
  • Uncover gaps in your plan
  • Lay out a clear strategy that you can refer back to
  • Track your progress

While a sound business plan is essential for setting your business off on the right foot, there’s a lot more you can do before you open shop to set yourself up for success. After the business plan template for startups, we’ll go over six tips for new business owners.

A business plan template for startups

This template is based on information provided by the British Business Bank.

Click here to download the full business plan template for startups.

a business plan template for startups in the UK

Next steps for startups

Once you have your business plan in place, you’re off to a great start. But there is still plenty to do before you open your doors to customers. 

Follow these tips to keep moving in the right direction: 

  1. Register your business

Do you want to launch as a sole trader, a limited company, or a partnership?

You’ll need to decide, and each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.

As a sole trader, you’ll have the most freedom and the simplest setup, but also the most personal accountability and liability if your business loses money. This is a good option if you’ll be personally overseeing all aspects of your business and if you have a fairly low risk business plan. Here’s more information on how to set up as a sole trader.

As a limited company, you’ll have a layer of protection between your personal finances and your business finances, but you’ll also have more responsibilities as a company director. If you choose this option, it’s highly recommended that you hire a professional accountant. Here’s a step-by-step guide on setting up as a limited company.

If you’re setting up a company with a 50/50 partner, you should establish a partnership. This will ensure that all profits, taxes, and debts will be equally divided between you and your business partner. Here’s a brief guide on how to set up your business partnership.

These are some of the most common types of businesses, but there are additional considerations if you will be selling goods online, importing and/or exporting, collecting personal data, running your business from your home, and hiring help.

2. Check the rules for your business

Whether you’re opening a pub or a web design agency, there are unique variables for your business. For example, you may need a special licence for the type of business you’re planning to start. Use this tool from gov.UK to find out which licences you might need to apply for before opening shop.

license finder for startup
The new business Licence Finder tool from gov.UK (Source)

It’s impossible to go over every rule for every type of business here, so once you know what type of enterprise you hope to launch, it may be helpful to talk to a lawyer or trusted adviser in that field to get the lay of the land.

3. Build your financial foundation

Whether you’re launching a sole tradership or a limited company, you need a solid financial foundation or you’ll be doomed to failure before you make your first sale.

If you’ve chosen to launch as a sole trader, it’s especially important to have a solid financial foundation because if your business ends up owing a lot of money, you’ll personally be on the hook for paying back those debts.

As discussed in the first tip, limited companies have more financial safeguards. But whether you’re a sole trader or limited company, you’ll need startup capital to get going.

This money can come from your personal savings, family loans, bank loans, government loans, and other sources.

British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans program lends up to £25,000 at a fixed rate of 6% per annum for one to five years for qualified businesses. The loan is government backed and includes one year of free mentoring. A sound business plan is a key to loan qualification.

WeWork suggests six other methods for securing startup funding, from crowdfunding to venture capital.

4. Hire the right people

If you’re a sole trader selling your own merchandise, you might not need to bring on any employees. But if you need to hire help—whether it’s seasonal help on a freelance basis or a full-time staff—it’s important to follow the rules, from running payroll to paying for their National Insurance (don’t worry, you can claim an allowance if you do so).

Running payroll is not something you want to attempt manually on your own. Payroll software can free you from this burden.

Here’s a guide from gov.UK on how to hire employees for the first time, including:

  • Determining fair wages
  • Running employment checks
  • Securing employer liability insurance
  • Providing a written statement of employment
  • Registering as an employer with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
employing staff for the first time
“Employing staff for the first time” guide (Source)
Not sure how to go about recruiting new employees? Here’s an A to Z guide.

5. Assemble your software stack

Starting a new business is hard enough as is without trying to also do things that software should be assisting you with. The software you need can vary widely depending on what type of business you’re launching, but virtually all businesses need essentials such as accounting software, customer relationship management software, and project management software.

Check out our directories for those categories below to find top options that you can filter by pricing model, features, average user rating, and more. This will assist you in building out your stack based on your individual business needs.

assemble your software stack, xample accounting software
GetApp’s accounting software directory (Source)

6. Market your new business

No matter how solid your startup business plan is, you need to get the word out about your business in order to accelerate growth. And to market effectively, you need the right tools. In fact, more than 20% of the business owners we surveyed for the GetApp New Business Model Survey said that they needed new marketing software to support their new business model, just behind video conferencing, CRM, and live chat software (methodology below).

software needed for starting new business

Our recent article looks at more ways that British businesses are adapting to COVID-19, from investing in new software to finding new ways to communicate with customers.

Check it out here to learn more about how your peers are facing these challenges.

new rules brexit
Concerned about how Brexit affects your new business? Use gov.UK’s free Brexit checker to get a personalised checklist of actions for you and your business (Source).
Want to know more? Check out our catalog of software products to discover more products.


*Data for the GetApp New Business Model Survey has been collected in November 2020. The sample comes from an online survey of 1,851 respondents that live in the UK.

The survey data used for this article comes from 539 participants who have qualified to answer.  The information in this article corresponds to the average of all surveyed participants.

The criteria for participants is:

  • Owner, founder, or another head role
  • C-suite executive (e.g., CEO, CIO)
  • President or vice president

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

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