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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.  

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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.

  • Give a brief overview of the bank industry.
  • Discuss the type of bank you are operating.
  • Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers.
  • Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team.
  • Offer an overview of your financial 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:

  • Commercial bank : this type of bank tends to concentrate on supporting businesses. Both large corporations and small businesses can turn to commercial banks if they need to open a checking or savings account, borrow money, obtain access to credit or transfer funds to companies in foreign markets.
  • Credit union: this type of bank operates much like a traditional bank (issues loans, provides checking and savings accounts, etc.) but banks are for-profit whereas credit unions are not. Credit unions fall under the direction of their own members. They tend to serve people affiliated with a particular group, such as people living in the same area, low-income members of a community or armed service members. They also tend to charge lower fees and offer lower loan rates.
  • Retail bank: retail banks can be traditional, brick-and-mortar brands that customers can access in-person, online, or through their mobile phones. They also offer general public financial products and services such as bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and insurance.
  • Investment bank: this type of bank manages the trading of stocks, bonds, and other securities between companies and investors. They also advise individuals and corporations who need financial guidance, reorganize companies through mergers and acquisitions, manage investment portfolios or raise money for certain businesses and the federal government.

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:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of clients served, the number of clients with positive reviews, reaching X number of clients served, etc.
  • Your legal business Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

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:

  • How big is the bank industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your bank? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

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

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What type of bank are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

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:

  • Will you provide loans and retirement savings accounts?
  • Will you offer products or services that your competition doesn’t?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

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:

  • Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
  • Reach out to websites
  • Distribute flyers
  • Engage in email marketing
  • Advertise on social media platforms
  • Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords

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:

  • Cost of furniture and office supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment

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

What is the easiest way to complete my bank business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily write your bank business plan.

How Do You Start a Bank Business?

Starting a bank business is easy with these 14 steps:

  • Choose the Name for Your Bank Business
  • Create Your Bank Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your Bank Business
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your Bank Business (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your Bank Business with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your Bank Business
  • Buy or Lease the Right Bank Business Equipment
  • Develop Your Bank Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Bank Business
  • Open for Business

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Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.   Click here to see how a Growthink business plan consultant can create your business plan for you.

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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:

  • Decision-making:  Business plans help you eliminate any gray area by writing specific information down in black and white. Making tough decisions is often one of the hardest and most useful parts of writing a business plan. 
  • A reality check:  The first real challenge after deciding to launch a new venture may be writing the business plan. Through the process, you may realize your business idea is a bit flawed or not yet fully developed. This may feel like extra work, but the effort you put into improving your idea during this step can bolster your chance of future success. 
  • New ideas: Discovering new ideas, different approaches and fresh perspectives are invaluable parts of the business planning process. Working closely with your concept can lead to unexpected insights, shifting your business in the right direction. 
  • Developing an action plan: Your business plan is a tool that will help you outline action items, next steps and future activities. This living, breathing document shows where you are and where you want to be, with the framework you need to get there.

Business plan guide: How to get started

Use this exercise to gather some of the most important information. When you're ready to put an outline together, follow our standard business plan template (PDF) and use this business plan example to use as a guide as you fill in your outline. Once your outline is finalized, you can share it with business partners, investors or banks as a tool to promote your concept.

  • Vision: Your vision statement sets the stage for everything you hope your business will accomplish going forward. Let yourself dream, pinpointing the ideas that will keep you inspired and motivated when you hit a bump in the road. 
  • Mission: A mission statement clarifies the purpose of your business and guides your plan, ultimately answering the question, "Why do you exist?" 
  • Objectives: Use your business objectives to define your goals and priorities. What are you going to accomplish with your business, and in what timeframe? These touchstones will drive your actions and help you stay focused. 
  • Strategies: Your objectives describe what you’re going to do, while your strategies describe how you’re going to do it. Consider your goals here, and identify the different ways you’ll work to reach them. 
  • Startup capital: Determine what your startup expenses will be. Having a clear idea will allow you to figure out where the money is coming from and help you spend what you have in the right areas. 
  • Monthly expenses: What do you estimate your business’ ongoing monthly expenses will be? This may change significantly over time — consider what your expenditure could be immediately after launch, in three months, in six months and in one year. 
  • Monthly income: In order to cover your expenses (and hopefully make a profit), you will need to estimate your income. What are your revenue streams? It's always wise to diversify your income. That way, you won’t be tied to one stream that might not be lucrative as quickly as you need it to be. 
  • Goal-setting and creating an action plan: Once you have all the specifics outlined, it's time to set up the step-by-step action items explained in the companion guide, a standard business plan outline. This process will utilize the hard work you've already done, breaking each step down in a way that you can follow.   

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.

  • What is your dream? 
  • What do you feel inspired to do or create?
  • What keeps you motivated, even in the face of uncertainty?  
  • Why does this business exist? 
  • What purpose(s) or need(s) does it fulfill for customers?   


  • List the goals of your company, then number them in order of importance. 
  • What will the business accomplish when it’s fully established and successful? 
  • How much time will it take to reach this point?  
  • For each goal or objective listed above, write one or more actions required to complete it.   

Startup capital 

  • List any and all startup expenses that come to mind. 
  • Next to each: 
  • Estimate the cost of any expenses you can. 
  • List the most likely source of the funding. 
  • Circle the high-priority expenses. 
  • Assess whether your available capital is going toward the high-priority items. If not, reconsider the way you will allocate funds.  

Monthly expenses

  • If you can, estimate your business’ ongoing monthly expenses immediately after launch, in three months, in six months and in one year. 
  • If you can’t, what information will you need in order to estimate your expenses?  

Monthly income 

  • What are your revenue streams? Estimate your monthly income accordingly. 
  • Which revenue sources deliver fast or slow returns? Are there other sources you could consider to diversify assets?  
  • After completing your outline, reference your responses as you work through a traditional business plan guide. This next step will allow you to expand and add more detailed information to your plan. 
  • When you’re ready to make your formal plan, reference this companion guide, a standard business plan outline  (PDF). We've also included a  business plan example  to help as you fill in your outline. 

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Writing a Bank Business Plan

  • Written By Dave Lavinsky

Writing a Lean Business Plan for a Bank

When it comes to seeking funding from a bank or other financial institution, one of the most important things you can do is have a well-written business plan . This document will not only give potential lenders and investors an idea of your company’s current position and future goals but will also provide them with a clear understanding of the risks involved in lending you money or investing in your business.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that provides a detailed description of a business, its products or services, its market, and its financial projections. It is used to secure funding from lenders or investors and to provide guidance for the business’s future operations.

Why Write a Business Plan

There are several reasons why you might want to write a plan for your business, even if you’re not looking for funding, they are:

  • To clarify your company’s purpose and direction
  • To better understand your industry and customers
  • To develop a realistic financial plan and accurate projections
  • To identify potential risks and opportunities
  • To track your company’s progress over time

An effective and well-written plan is helpful for potential investors and clarifies the plans you have for any future business partners.

Sources of Business Funding for Banks

There are many sources of business funding available to banks, including:

  • Equity financing: This is when you sell a portion of your business to investors in exchange for capital. This can be a good option if you need a large amount of money quickly, as it doesn’t require you to pay back the funds over time.
  • Debt financing: This is when you borrow money from a lender, such as a bank, in exchange for repayment plus interest. This type of financing can be helpful if you need to keep your cash flow low in the early stages of your business.
  • Grants: There are several different government and private grants available to businesses, which can often be used for start-up costs or expansion.
  • Venture capital: This is when you receive funding from a venture capitalist in exchange for a portion of your company’s equity. Venture capitalists typically invest their own personal savings in high-growth businesses with a lot of potential.

Resources to Write a Bank Business Plan

To write a bank business plan, you’ll need access to a variety of resources, including:

Sample Plans for Your Business

A good place to start is by looking at some sample plans for businesses in your industry. This will give you a good idea of the types of information to include in your own plan.

Business planning software

There are a number of software programs that can help you create professional-looking plans for your business.

Market Research

When writing a business plan for a bank, it’s important to include a section on your company’s market research. This will include detailed information about your industry, your market, and your competition.

Industry Analysis

In order to accurately describe your industry and the market for your products or services, you’ll need to conduct an industry analysis. This should include information about the size and growth of the industry, the key players in the industry, and any major trends or changes that are taking place.

Target Market Analysis

To effectively market your products or services, you need to understand who your target market is. This should include information about the demographics of your target customers (age, gender, income, etc.), psychographics (lifestyle preferences, interests, etc.), and geographic (location, region).

Competition Analysis

In order to differentiate your business from the competition, you’ll need to know what they’re offering and how they’re positioning themselves in the market. This should include a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of your competitors.

Customer Segments

A customer segment is a group of customers who share common characteristics, such as age, income, location, or lifestyle preferences. When creating business plans for a bank, it’s important to identify and target your key customer segments. This will help you focus your marketing efforts and create products and services that appeal to your target market.

There are a variety of ways to segment customers, including:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, income, location, etc.
  • Psychographics: Lifestyle preferences, interests, etc.
  • Behavior: How they interact with your brand, what channels they use to purchase products or services, etc.
  • Usage: How often they purchase your product or service, how much they spend, etc.
  • Value: How much they’re willing to pay for your product or service, how much they value customer service, etc.

Once you’ve identified your customers, you can create buyer personas. These are fictional characters that represent your ideal customer within each segment. Creating buyer personas will help you better understand your target market and create more effective marketing campaigns.

Financial templates

If you’re not familiar with financial terminology or calculations, use a financial template to help you develop your business’s financial projections as well as including an income statement and balance sheets.

Accounting and Legal Advice 

It’s important to seek out accounting and legal advice from professionals who can help ensure that your business plan is accurate and complete.

Bank Business Plan Template

While there is no one-size-fits-all template for writing a business plan, there are some key elements that should be included. Here is a brief overview of what should be included:

Executive Summary

This is a high-level overview of your company, its products or services, and its financial situation. Be sure to include information on your target market, your competitive advantage, and your plans for growth.

Company Description

This section provides more detail on your company, including its history, structure, and management team. Be sure to include information on your company’s mission and vision, as well as its values and goals.

Products and Services

Here you will describe your company’s products or services in detail, including information on your target market and your competitive advantage.

Market Analysis

In this section, you will provide an overview of your market, including demographic information and information on current and future trends. This is also a good section to add the marketing plan you have developed to appeal to potential customers.

Sales and Marketing

This section will detail your sales and marketing strategy, including information on your pricing, your distribution channels, and your promotion plans.

Financial projections

This is perhaps the most important section of your business plan, as it will provide lenders and investors with an idea of your company’s financial health. Be sure to include detailed information on your past financial performance, as well as your projections for future revenue and expenses. This is also a good section to include your cash flow statements, income statements, and information about any bank accounts opened for your business.

This is where you will include any supporting documents, such as your financial statements, marketing materials, or product data sheets.

While this is not an exhaustive list of everything that should be included in your bank business plan, it covers the most important elements. By taking the time to write a well-thought-out and detailed business plan, you will increase your chances of securing the funding you need to grow your business.

Opening a bank is a detailed and complex process, but it can be enormously rewarding both professionally and financially. The best way to increase your chances of success is to write a business plan that outlines all aspects of opening and running a bank. This document should include market analysis, organizational structure, financial projections, and more. Our team has extensive experience helping entrepreneurs open banks. We have created a comprehensive business plan template that covers all the key points you need to consider when writing your own business plan. By following our template, you can be sure that you haven’t missed any essential elements in your planning process. Investing in professional help when writing your business plan gives you the best chance for success when opening a new bank.

Bank Business Plan Template FAQs

Do i need to use a business plan template.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you are seeking funding from a lender or investor, they may have specific requirements for the format and content of your business plan. In other cases, using a template can be helpful in ensuring that you include all of the important information in your plan.

Where can I find a business plan template?

There are a number of resources that offer business plan templates, including the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, many software programs that offer business planning tools also include templates.

How long should my business plan be?

Again, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The length of your business plan will depend on the complexity of your business and the amount of detail you need to include. In general, however, most business plans range from 20 to 50 pages.

Do I need to hire a professional to help me write my business plan?

While you are not required to hire a professional to write your business plan, it may be helpful to do so. A professional can help you ensure that your plan is well-written and free of errors. Additionally, they can offer advice on how to best structure your plan and make it more likely to succeed.

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How to write an effective business plan in 11 steps (with workbook)

February 02, 2023 | 14 minute read

Writing a business plan is a powerful way to position your small business for success as you set out to meet your goals. Research suggests that business founders who write one are 16% more likely to build businesses that are viable than those who don’t, and that entrepreneurs focused on high growth are 7% more likely to have written a business plan. HBR. July 14, 2017. Available online at" data-footnote="sevenpercent" aria-label="Footnote 1" data-options="{"interstitialType":"leaving-site","targetAction":"new-tab"}" class="spa-ui-layer-link spa-fn spa-ui-layer-interstitial"> Footnote [1] Even better, other research shows that owners who complete business plans are twice as likely to grow their business successfully or obtain capital compared to those who don’t. J Grad Med Educ. 2014 Mar;6(1):15-7. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-13-00081.1. PMID: 24701304; PMCID: PMC3963774. Available online at:" data-footnote="twiceaslikely" aria-label="Footnote 2" data-options="{"interstitialType":"leaving-site","targetAction":"new-tab"}" class="spa-ui-layer-link spa-fn spa-ui-layer-interstitial"> Footnote [2]

The best time to write a business plan is typically after you have vetted and researched your business idea. (See: How to start a business in 15 steps .) If conditions change later, you can rewrite the plan, much like how your GPS reroutes you if there is traffic ahead. When you update your plan regularly, everyone on your team, including outside stakeholders such as investors, will know where you are headed.

What is a business plan?

Typically 15-20 pages long, a business plan is a document that explains what your business does, what you want to achieve in the business and the strategy you plan to use to get there. It details the opportunities you are going after, what resources you will need to achieve your goals and how you will define success.

Why are business plans important?

Business plans help you think through barriers and discover opportunities you may have recognized subconsciously but have not yet articulated. A business plan can also help you to attract potential lenders, investors and partners by providing them with evidence that your business has all of the ingredients necessary for success.

What questions should a business plan answer?

Your business plan should explain how your business will grow and succeed. A great plan will provide detailed answers to questions that a banker or investor will have before putting money into the business, such as:

  • What products/services do you provide?
  • Who is your target customer?
  • What are the benefits of your product and service for customers?
  • How much will you charge?
  • What is the size of the market?
  • What are your marketing plans?
  • How much competition does the business face in penetrating that market?
  • How much experience does the management team have in running businesses like it?
  • How do you plan to measure success?
  • What do you expect the business’s revenue, costs and profit to be for the first few years?
  • How much will it cost to achieve the goals stated in the business plan?
  • What is the long-term growth potential of the business? Is the business scalable?
  • How will you enable investors to reap the rewards of backing the business? Do you plan to sell the business to a bigger company eventually or take it public as your “exit strategy”?

How to write a business plan in 11 steps

This step-by-step outline will make it easier to write an effective business plan, even if you’re managing the day-to-day demands of starting a new business. Creating a table of contents that lists key sections of the plan, with page numbers, will make it easy for readers to flip to the sections that interest them most.

Use our editable workbook to capture notes and organize your thoughts as you review these critical steps. Note: To avoid losing your work, please remember to save this PDF to your desktop before you begin.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is your opportunity to make a great first impression on investors and bankers. It should be just as engaging as the enthusiastic elevator pitch you might give if you bumped into a potential backer in an elevator.

In three to five paragraphs, you’ll want to explain what your business does, why it will succeed and where it will be in five years. The executive summary should include short descriptions of the following:

  • Business concept: What will your business do?
  • Goals and vision: What do you expect the business to achieve, both financially and for other key stakeholders, such as the community?
  • Product or service: What does your product or service do — and how is it different from those of competitors?
  • Target market: Who do you expect to buy your product or service?
  • Marketing strategy: How will you tell people about your product or service?
  • Current revenue and profits: If your business is pre-revenue, offer sales projections.
  • Projected revenue and profits: Provide a realistic look at the next year, as well as the next three years, ideally.
  • Financial resources needed: How much money do you need to borrow or raise to fund your plan?
  • Management team: Who are the company’s leaders and what relevant experience will they contribute?

2. Business overview

Here is where you provide a brief history of the business and describe the product(s) or service(s) it offers. Make sure you describe the problem you are attempting to solve, for whom you will solve it (your customers) and how you will solve it. Be sure to describe your business model (such as direct-to-consumer sales through an online store) so readers can envision how you will make sales. Also mention your business structure (such as a sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership or corporation) and why it is advantageous for the business. And be sure to provide context on the state of your industry and where your business will fit into it.

3. Business goals and vision

Explain what you hope to achieve in the business (your vision), as well as its mission and value proposition. Most founders judge success by the size to which they grow the business, using measures such as revenue or number of employees. Your goals may not be solely financial. You may also wish to provide jobs or solve a societal problem. If that’s the case, mention those goals as well.

If you are seeking outside funding, explain why you need the money, how you will put it to work to grow the business and how you expect to achieve the goals you have set for the business. Also explain your exit strategy—that is, how you will enable investors to cash out, whether that means selling the business or taking it public.

4. Management and organization

Many investors say they bet on the team behind a business more than the business idea, trusting that talented and experienced people will be capable of bringing sound business concepts to life. With that in mind, make sure to provide short bios of the key members of your management team (including yourself) that emphasize the relevant experience each individual brings, along with their special talents and industry recognition. Many business plans include headshots of the management team with the bios.

Also describe more about how your organization will be structured. Your company may be a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation in one or more states.

If you will need to hire people for specific roles, this is the place to mention those plans. And if you will rely on outside consultants for certain roles — such as an outsourced CFO — be sure to make a note of it here. Outside backers want to know if you’ve anticipated the staffing you need.

5. Service or product line

A business will only succeed if it sells something people want or need to buy. As you describe the products or services you will offer, make sure to explain what benefits they will provide to your target customers, how they will differ from competing offerings and what the buying cycle will likely be, so it is clear that you can actually sell what you are offering. If you have plans to protect your intellectual property through a copyright or patent filing, be sure to mention that. Also explain any research and development work that is underway, to show investors the potential for additional revenue streams.

6. Market/industry analysis

Anyone interested in providing financial backing to your business will want to know how big your company can potentially grow, so they have an idea of what kind of returns they can expect. In this section, you’ll be able to convey that by explaining to whom you will be selling and how much opportunity there is to reach them. Key details to include are market size; a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis ; a competitive analysis; and customer segmentation. Make it clear how you developed any projections you’ve made by citing interviews or research.

Also describe the current state of the industry. Where is there room for improvement? Are most companies using antiquated processes and technology? If your business is a local one, what is the market in your area like? Do most of the restaurants where you plan to open your café serve mediocre food? What will you do better?

In this section, also list competitors, including their names, websites and social media handles. Describe each source of competition and how your business will address it.

7. Sales and marketing

Explain how you will spread the word to potential customers about what you sell. Will you be using paid online search advertising, social media promotions, traditional direct mail, print advertising in local publications, sponsorship of a local radio or TV show, your own YouTube content or some other method entirely? List all of the methods you will use.

Make sure readers know exactly what the path to a sale will be and why that approach will resonate with customers in your ideal target markets, as well as existing customer segments. If you have already begun using the methods you’ve outlined, include data on the results so readers know whether they have been effective.

8. Financials

In a new business, you may not have any past financial data or financial statements to include, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to share. Preparing a budget and financial plan will help show investors or bankers that you have developed a clear understanding of the financial aspects of running your business. (The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has prepared a budget template you can use; SCORE , a nonprofit organization that partners with the SBA, offers a financial planning template to help you look ahead.) For an existing business, you will want to include income statements, profit and loss statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets, ideally going back three years.

Make a list of the specific steps you plan to take to achieve the financial results you have outlined. The steps are generally the most detailed for the first year, given that you may need to revise your plan later as you gather feedback from the marketplace.

Include interactive spreadsheets that contain a detailed financial analysis showing how much it costs your business to produce the goods and services you provide, the profits you will generate, any planned investments and the taxes you will pay. See our Startup costs calculator to get started.

9. Financial projections

Creating a detailed sales forecast can help you get outside backers excited about supporting you. A sales forecast is typically a table or simple line graph that shows the projected sales of the company over time, usually for the next 12 months and as much as five years into the future. If you haven’t yet launched the company, turn to your market research to develop estimates. For more information, see “ How to create a sales forecast for your small business .”

10. Funding request

If you are seeking outside financing such as a loan or equity investment, your potential backers will want to know how much money you need and how you will spend it. Describe the amount you are trying to raise, how you arrived at that number and what type of funding you are seeking (such as debt, equity or a combination of both). If you are contributing some of your own funds, it is worth noting this, as it shows that you have “skin in the game.”

11. Appendix

This should include any information and supporting documents that will help investors and bankers gain a greater understanding of the potential of your business. Depending on your industry, you might include local permits, licenses, deeds and other legal documents; professional certifications and licenses; media clips; information on patents and other intellectual property; key customer contracts and purchase orders; and other relevant documents.

Some business owners find it helpful to develop a list of key concepts, such as the names of the company’s products and industry terms. This can be helpful if you do business in an industry that may not be familiar to the readers of the business plan.

Tips for creating an effective business plan

Use clear, simple language. It’ll be easier to win people over if your plan is easy to read. Steer clear of industry jargon, and if you must use any phrases the average adult won’t know, be sure to define them.

Emphasize what makes your business unique. Investors and bankers want to know how you will solve a problem or gap in the marketplace differently from anyone else. Make sure you’re conveying your differentiating factors.

Nail the details. An ideal business plan will be detailed and accurate. Make sure that any financial projections you make are realistic and grounded in solid market research. (If you need help in making your calculations, you can get free advice at SCORE.) Seasoned bankers and investors will quickly spot numbers that are overly optimistic.

Take time to polish it. Your final version of the plan should be neat and professional, with an attractive layout and copy that has been carefully proofread.

Include professional photos. High-quality shots of your product or place of business can help make it clear why your business stands out.

Updating an existing business plan

Some business owners in rapidly growing businesses update their business plan quarterly. Others do so every six months or every year. When you update your plan make sure you consider these three things:

1. Are your goals still current? As you’ve tested your concept, your goals may have changed. The plan should reflect this.

2. Have you revised any strategies in response to feedback from the marketplace? You may have found that your offerings resonated with a different customer segment than you expected or that your advertising plan didn’t work and you need to try a different approach. Given that investors will want to see a marketing and advertising plan that works, keeping this section current will ensure you are always ready to meet with one who shows interest.

3. Have your staffing needs changed? If you set ambitious goals, you may need help from team members or outside consultants you did not anticipate when you first started the business. Take stock now so you can plan accordingly.

Final thoughts

Most business owners don’t follow their business plans exactly. But writing one will get you off to a much better start than simply opening your doors and hoping for the best, and it will be easier to analyze any aspects of your business that aren’t working later so you can course-correct. Ultimately, it may be one of the best investments you can make in the future of your business.

Business plan FAQs

The biggest mistake you can make when writing a business plan is creating one before the idea has been properly researched and tested. Not every idea is meant to become a business. Other common mistakes include:

  • Not describing your management team in a way that is appealing to investors. Simply cutting and pasting someone’s professional bio into the management section won’t do the trick. You’ll want to highlight the credentials of each team member in a way that is relevant to this business.
  • Failing to include financial projections — or including overly optimistic ones. Investors look at a lot of business plans and can tell quickly whether your numbers are accurate or pie in the sky. Have a good small business accountant review your numbers to make sure they are realistic.
  • Lack of a clear exit strategy for investors. Investors will want to “cash out” eventually and will want to know how they can go about doing that.
  • Slapdash presentation. Make sure to fact-check any industry statistics you cite, and that any charts, graphs or images are carefully prepared and easy to read.

There are a variety of styles of business plans styles. Here are three major types:

Traditional business plan. This is a formal document for pitching to investors based on the outline in this article. If your business is a complicated one, the plan may exceed the typical length and stretch to as many as 50 pages.

One-page business plan. This is a simplified version of a formal business plan, designed to fit on one page. Typically, each section will be described in bullet points or in a chart format, rather than in the narrative style of an executive summary. It can be helpful as a summary document to give to investors — or for internal use. Another variation on the one-page theme is the “ business model canvas .”

Lean plan. This methodology for creating a business plan is ideal for a business that is evolving quickly. It is designed in a way that makes it easy to update on a regular basis. Lean business plans are usually about one page long. The SBA has provided an example of what this type of plan includes on its website.

Many elements of a business plan for a nonprofit are similar to those of a for-profit business. However, because the goal of a nonprofit is achieving its mission — rather than turning a profit—the business plan should emphasize its specific goals on that front and how it will achieve them. Many nonprofits set key performance indicators (KPIs) — numbers that they track to show they are “moving the needle” on their goals.

Nonprofits will generally emphasize their fundraising strategies in their business plans, rather than sales strategies. The funds they raise are the lifeblood of the programs they run.

A strategic plan is different from the type of business plan you’ve read about here in that it emphasizes the long-term goals of the business and how your business will achieve them over the long run. A strong business plan can function as both a business plan and a strategic plan.

A marketing plan is different from a business plan in that it is focused on four main areas of the business: product (what you are selling and how you will differentiate it), price (how much your products or services will cost and why), promotion (how you will get your ideal customer to notice and buy what you are selling) and place (where you will sell your products). A thorough business plan may cover these topics, doing double duty as both a business plan and a marketing plan.

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HOW TO WRITE A BANK BUSINESS PLAN: Simple Steps & All You Need (+ Template)

  • by Kenechukwu Muoghalu
  • August 13, 2023
  • No comments
  • 6 minute read

how to write a bank business plan

Table of Contents Hide

What is a bank business plan, why do i need a bank business plan, #1. executive summary, #2. company overview, #3. customer analysis, #4. competitive analysis, #5. marketing plan, #6. operations plan, #7. management team, #8. financial plan, #9. appendix, bank business plan template, would you want to finish your bank’s business plan as quickly as possible, what is the easiest way to complete my bank business plan, how do banks make money, can an individual own a bank.

Opening a new bank is a cool investment that requires a stipulated level of attention and responsibilities for growth to take place. However, how can you start up a financial facility without a business plan? How do you intend to nurture the goals and growth of your bank business? Every investment needs a business plan and that is why this article has every little detail on what you need to know about this plan. You will also have access to a free template checklist and basic steps on how to write a bank business plan.

We also have a ready-made bank business plan for your comfort, just in case you wish to skip all procedures and get hold of your plan today. 

A bank business plan is a document that provides a snapshot of your bank and lays out its future growth plan. Not just that, it also explains your business goals and gives strategies that can help you attain them. It is more like a road map for success, and without the road map, you cannot get to your desired destination. 

It is also important to note that only a well-detailed and articulated bank business plan can achieve its potential purposes. Your bank’s business plan should also be updated annually to accommodate new changes in your business. 

The essence of a bank business plan can vary from one business owner to another. One can start up a business plan to attract investors or lenders to aid them in raising funds because, like other businesses, the banking industry also requires capital investment on a large scale to start its operations. 

Most of the time, you will need a bank business plan to map out the goals and growth of your bank and excessively improve your chances of success. You can also need a bank business plan for a combination of both reasons. A banking industry business plan plays an important role in the initiation and expansion of banks. Moreover, a business plan for banks is also required by the financial institutions. 

To write a winning bank business plan, you need to understand some basic steps on how to construct a comprehensive and well-detailed plan. Writing a plan comes with some procedures, and you can only yield results in your company when these procedures are followed. Let’s analyze what these procedures entail. 

Simple Steps on How to Write a Bank Business Plan

The executive summary of your bank’s business plan should be an introduction to your business. It is usually the first to appear on the plan but the last to write. This is because you will need some information from other sections. This section should be interesting to your readers. Don’t fail to explain the kind of bank you run, which can be either a startup or a chain of banks. 

Also one of the steps in how to write this section of your bank business plan is to include an overview of your competitors and your financial plan. 

There are different types of banks that one can invest in, and in your company overview, you will need to detail the type of bank you are operating. 

  • Commercial Bank

A commercial bank is built to support both large corporations and small businesses. They can open a savings account, and lend money or trust funds to companies in foreign markets. 

  • Retail Bank

Retail banks are normally traditional banks that customers can access online or in person. They also offer loans and insurance. 

  • Investment Bank

This bank normally trades in stocks that are mostly between companies and investors. They can offer advice to individuals and corporations who need financial guidance. 

  • Credit Union

Credit unions are basically like traditional banks, but they are different because they’re not profit-oriented. Regardless, they perform basic operations like loans and providing savings accounts. 

When you indicate the type of bank that suits you, then you will proceed to give a brief introduction of your company. Tell your readers why you started this business and the things you have achieved. 

This is where you include the details of the customers you will be offering your services to. Your customers might be individuals, small businesses, families, or big corporations. It is important to note that each customer will be following the type of bank you run. You will also need to research your customers and try to meet your target audience. 

This is where you need to mention your competitors which can be either direct or indirect. Direct competitors are other banks, and indirect competitors are other options that your potential customers can purchase from. It can be trust accounts, investment companies, or even the stock market. They are not directly competing with your products. 

You will need to list those competitors and give a brief description of their weaknesses and strengths. Then at the end of this section, you can provide how the services you offer are unique from your competitors.

As a financial facility, your marketing strategy should include your products, price, place, and promotions. In the product section, just talk about the type of bank you run, and state the prices of the products you offer as well. The place should be the location of your bank and how that site will impact your success. The promotion is meant to explain how you will attract potential customers to your company, which can be either an advertisement, websites, flyers, or social media platforms. 

The operation plan should explain how you intend to meet the goals of your business. It should cover both the short-term and long-term processes. You should include how you intend to reshape your company within that time frame. 

Just like the name implies, this section should be all about your strong management team. Highlight your key players by including their backgrounds, skills, and experiences that prove that they are capable enough to grow a company. It is a bonus if your management team has had direct experience in managing banks. If your team is lacking, you can consider assembling an advisory board. 

A financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement. It should also cover your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. An income statement should contain your profit and loss statement. A balance sheet will cover your assets and liabilities, while a cash flow statement will determine how much money you need to start and grow your business to avoid going bankrupt. 

In the appendix section, you can include any information that can make your bank business plan more compelling. You can attach your financial projections to a list of loans you plan to give. 

Having learned how to effectively write a bank business plan, you will also need to practice the use of a template. A bank business plan template is essential when starting a bank business. It is with this template checklist that you will understand the full processes that are involved with starting a bank business. So, before you proceed with your investment, you need to keep these steps in check.

  • Know the business 
  • Write a business plan
  • Raise Capital
  • Choose a business name
  • Get a license 
  • Attract customers 

Don’t you wish there was an easier way to finish your bank’s business plan? Understandably, creating a business plan can be overwhelming, but there is a way around it. At BusinessYield Consult, we specialize in creating business plans for entrepreneurs like you. 

That is why we have composed a unique, ready-made bank business plan for your comfort. Now you won’t have to spend hours trying to get over a section of your business plan. 

All you need to do is to grab a copy of your bank business plan now! 

A business plan is essential in every company, whether a big or small business. It tends to bring some changes into every business and also helps you manage that business effectively. Although sometimes creating one for yourself might be a bit daunting, when you follow the steps above, you can come up with a successful bank business plan that will boost the growth of your company.

If you need an easier way to complete your business plan without having to go through the long process of writing one yourself, then you can try our ready-made bank business plan . 

Banks mainly make money by borrowing money from depositors and then compensating them with an interest rate. Then that same bank will lend the money to borrowers and charge them a high-interest rate. It is from that profit that their profit comes.

Yes. There is a possibility of individual ownership but most times individuals commonly buy shares of bank stock which can be directly from the bank or fund managers. 

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Kenechukwu Muoghalu

Kenny, an accomplished business writer with a decade of experience, excels in translating intricate industry insights into engaging articles. Her passion revolves around distilling the latest trends, offering actionable advice, and nurturing a comprehensive understanding of the business landscape. With a proven track record of delivering insightful content, Kenny is dedicated to empowering her readers with the knowledge needed to thrive in the dynamic and ever-evolving world of business.

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How To Write A Business Plan for A Bank Loan (3 Key Steps)

Wondering how to create a business plan that will wow your banker.

You're not alone.

Most entrepreneurs see writing a business plan as a gargantuan task – especially if they've never written one before.

Where do you start?

How do you calculate the financials?

How can you be sure you're not making a mistake?

And if you need a business plan for a bank loan, getting this document right is absolutely essential.

So here's what we recommend: simplify the planning process by breaking the work up into manageable, bite–sized steps. That way, you can focus on one section at a time to make sure it's accurate.

Here's a quick overview of the step–by–step process we guide entrepreneurs through when they sign up for LivePlan.

Step 1: Outline The Opportunity

This is the core of your business plan. It should give loan officers a clear understanding of:

  • What problem you're solving
  • How your product or service fits into the current market
  • What sets your business apart from the competition

There are three key parts to this step:

The Problem & Solution

Detail exactly what problem you are solving for your customers. How do their lives improve after you solve that “pain point” for them?

We recommend actually going out and chatting with your target audience first. That way, you can validate that you're solving a real problem for your potential customers.

Be sure to describe your solution in vivid detail. For example, if the problem is that parking downtown is expensive and hard to find, your solution might be a bike rental service with designated pickup and dropoff locations.

Target Market

Who exactly are you selling to? And roughly how many of them are there?

This is crucial information for determining whether or not your business will succeed long–term. Never assume that your target market is “everyone.”

For example, it would be easy for a barber shop to target everyone who needs a haircut. But most likely, it will need to focus on a specific market segment to reach its full business potential. This might include catering to children and families, seniors or business professionals.


Who are your direct competitors? These are companies that provide similar solutions that aim to solve your customers' pain points.

Then outline what your competitive advantages are. Why should your target market choose you over the other products or services available?

Think you don't have any competition? Think again. Your customers are likely turning to an indirect competitor that is solving their problem with a different type of solution.

For example: A taco stand might compete directly with another taco stand, but indirectly with a nearby hot dog vendor.

Boost your chances of securing a loan

See how LivePlan can help you write a fundable business plan

Step 2: Show how you'll execute

This is where the action happens! Here you'll get into the details of how you'll take advantage of the opportunity you outlined in the previous section. This part demonstrates to banks that you have a strong plan to achieve success.

The three main components of this step include:

Marketing & Sales Plan

There can be a lot of moving parts to this one, depending on your business model.

But most importantly, you'll need to fully explain how you plan to reach your target market and convert those people into customers. A few example of what should be included:

  • Positioning strategy. What makes your business both unique and highly desirable to your target market?
  • Marketing activities. Will you advertise with billboards, online ads or something else entirely?
  • Pricing. What you charge must reflect consumer demand. There are a few models to choose from, including ‘cost–plus pricing’ and ‘value pricing.’

This is the nuts and bolts of your business. It's especially important for brick–and–mortar companies that operate a storefront or have a warehouse.

You may want to explain why your location is important or detail how much space you have available. Plan to work at home? You can also cover your office space and any plans to move outside your house.

Any specialized software or equipment and tools should also be covered here.

Milestones & Metrics

Lenders and investors want to be confident that you know how to turn your business plans into financial success. That's where your milestones come in.

These are planned goals that help you progress your company. For example, if you're launching a new product your milestones may include completing prototypes and figuring out manufacturing.

Metrics are how you will gauge the success of your business. Do you want to generate a certain level of sales? Or keep costs at a certain level? Figuring out which metrics are most important and then tracking them is essential for growth.

Step 3: Detail your financial plan

This is the most crucial – and intimidating – part of any business plan for a bank loan. Your prospective lender will look especially close at this section to determine how likely your business is to succeed.

But the financial section doesn't have to be overwhelming, especially if you break the work into smaller pieces. Here are 3 items that your plan must have:

Simply put, this is your projections for your business finances. It gives you (and the bank) an idea of how much profit your company stands to make. Just a few items you'll need to include:

  • Revenue. List all your products, services and any other ways your business will generate income.
  • Direct costs. Or in other words, what are the costs to make what you sell?
  • Personnel. Salaries and expenses related to what you pay yourself, employees and any contactors.
  • Expenses. Things like rent, utilities, marketing costs and any other regular expenses.

Exactly how will you use any investments, loans or other financing to grow your business? This might include paying for capital expenses like equipment or hiring personnel.

Also detail where all your financing is coming from. Lines of credit, loans or personal savings should be listed here.

Bankers will be giving this section a lot of attention. Here's what you'll need:

  • Profit & Loss. This statement pulls in numbers from your sales forecast and other elements to show whether you're making or losing money.
  • Projected Balance Sheet. This is likely the first thing a loan officer will look at: it covers your liability, capital and assets. It provides an overview of how financially sound your business is.
  • Projected Cash Flow. Essentially, this statement keeps track of how much money you have in the bank at any given point. Loan officers are likely to expect realistic monthly cash flow for the next 12 months.

Don't forget the Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first section of your business plan, but we recommend you tackle it last.

It's basically an introduction to your company, summarizing the main points of your plan. Keep it to just one or two pages and be as clear and concise as possible.

Think of it as a quick read designed to get the lender excited about your business.

If you need help writing your plan

Not everyone feels confident writing a business plan themselves, especially if it's needed to secure a bank loan.

And although you don't need an MBA to write one, getting your business plan right often does require quite a bit of work. So if you need help writing your plan, here are two options to consider:

  • Hire a professional business plan writer to do it for you. This is typically the most expensive route, but worth it if you're pursuing $100,000 or more in capital.
  • Sign up for LivePlan. It's business planning software that walks you through a step–by–step process for writing any type of plan. It's an affordable option that also gives you an easy way to track your actuals against your business plan, so you can get the insights you need to grow faster.

LivePlan makes it easy to write a winning business plan

No risk – includes our 35-day money back guarantee.

How to write a winning business plan

How to write a winning business plan

Business plans are a great way to set out your business goals and how you’re going to reach them. Writing a business plan helps you consider what you do, the market opportunity, the risks and your strategy to succeed.

What is a business plan and why is it important?

A business plan is important so that you know where your business is going and how it’s going to get there. You may need a business plan to inspire confidence from investors, or show lenders that your business has potential. It can also help everyone on your team stay on the same page.

A business plan is always important, and even more so if you’re just starting out . It sets out the destination and the route plan of your business. You could say it’s a bit like a satnav - it helps you know which road to take at a junction.

Your business plan helps you play to win

People think of a business plan as a set of numbers but take it from me, an accountant , that this is probably the least important part of the plan. The numbers are like the scorecard and your business is the game. Your business plan is your strategy for how you’d like to play the game - and win!

What to consider for your business plan

Decide what outcome you want. You probably want to win this game but by how much? Or you may have just been promoted to this league and you need time to build some solid foundations. 2-1 win or £100,000 profit?

Look at your opposition, sometimes called a competitor analysis, to see what they are doing well and where they are leaving gaps. Are there areas of the market that are underserved or that could be better served by you than your competitors?

Team tactics. Can you see where you will sell £500,000 (or how you will score those two goals)? A few big customers or lots of smaller ones? This is the sales plan.

Look at your own team, as well as player wages do you need to recruit or train to get the best out of them? This will have costs that need to be included in the plan.

What other costs do you have? How much will the pitch, court or premises cost you and will you need to invest in any technology to help you win - such as a new scoreboard? Think about what kind of benefits you need to achieve (revenue gains or reduced costs to make the investment worthwhile).

Is this likely to give you the outcome you wanted? Or do you need to review all this again?

Do you have enough cash to pay for everything along the way or do you need to borrow?

How to structure a business plan

Once you have been through this thought process you can start to put your plans into a more formal structure. If you’re applying for loans or other finance it’s important to use the right terminology but, if the plan is only for internal use then it should be presented in a way that you and your team can understand. These are some common sections in business plans.

The overall goal

It’s tempting to start your business plan by explaining how amazing or radical your innovation or business idea is (there’s time for that later). It may be more useful to set the scene for the goal by explaining what real-world needs or problems you’re aiming to solve.

Your overall goal should be tied in to your personal goals. It’s no good building a million pound business that requires you to work 80 hours a week if what you really want is more time with your kids now.

Market analysis

Do some research to find out how much demand there is for your brilliant idea. Talk to your existing and prospective customers and ask questions. How many potential customers are out there? You could use a market research company, but you should still conduct your own research.

If you can use real or verifiable values, so much the better - vague terms like ‘the potential market is huge’ may not be enough to impress potential funders. Look at things like the current size of the market, its dynamics, if it’s growing or changing.

SWOT analysis

Determining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business is a useful way to view the things you do well and those that you need to improve. Identifying threats early allows you to put things in place to minimise or even negate them. Spend a few minutes searching and you’ll find many free examples of SWOT templates.

How much are you going to sell and to whom? It’s normal to spread this over 12 months. Will you sell to other businesses or to individuals? Decide whether you will sell to a few, bigger customers or several, smaller ones. Your approach will depend on your product and the market and will drive a lot of decisions from marketing strategy to recruitment. You’ll find a few sites out there offering free sales plan templates.

Marketing plan

How will you price your product and what promotion do you need to help achieve those sales? How will you attract new customers and how will you keep the ones you have? Who is your ideal customer and how will you reach them? Where do they spend time, is it on Instagram or travel websites?

Staffing plan

What skills do you need to achieve your plan? What will the organisation chart look like? Do you need to recruit or buy in expertise? Remember that flexible working means that you don’t need to recruit full time people if you only need the expertise half the time. Do you need to recruit straight away or part way through the year?

Capital investment

Are there any large costs coming up as you invest in equipment, technology or a new website? How are you expecting to finance them and what benefit do you expect them to deliver?

The numbers

This is what people think of when they think of a business plan but it is the last part of the game plan. Don’t forget to look at profit and loss. Draw up a profit and loss account to reflect all the numbers. If you’re also looking to raise finance with the plan - can you quantify your return on investment? It’s important to focus on your revenue model and if it’s viable in the short, medium and long term. Look at growth forecasts.

Look at the timing of money coming in and out. When will your customers pay for your sales and when will you have to pay your bills? How much money will be tied up in stock? Will you receive VAT from your customers before you have to pay it to HMRC? Are there any big costs that will need to be paid out? When are loan repayments due? Have you got enough cash set aside to pay your tax at the year end?

How long should the business plan be?

One common question is how long does the plan need to be? Three pages, a 100, something else?

The answer partly depends on if the plan’s for internal or external use. Internally, the plan can be as long as makes sense for its purpose, which could be to inform employees or keep founders on track.

If it’s external, perhaps to help raise funding, you do need enough detail to cover every section and make a compelling argument, but avoid a thick document which may lose your audience’s attention. Try to convey the key takeaways in a clear and simple way - sometimes more information isn’t better.

Don’t forget to write an executive summary to front up your plan. It should be simple, clear and specific. It needs to give a quick sense of what you do - but also why it’s valuable.

How many months or years do you need to plan for?

Business plans are usually completely in detail and fixed for 12 months and then a broader outline for three to five years. If you’re applying for finance then your plan should cover the whole period until the loan is repaid. There is no reason that you can’t update your forecasts as you progress through the year.

As you go through the year, more information will come to light so you will probably reforecast and your actions will evolve. This is the same way that your satnav changes route when you meet traffic or diversions. Both your satnav and your business rely on accurate information.

At the end of the original plan period you can compare what you actually achieved, against your targets. See where you did better and if there are any areas to learn from. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so use it to plan an even better business in the future.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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How to Write a Successful Business Plan for a Loan

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Table of Contents

What does a loan business plan include?

What lenders look for in a business plan, business plan for loan examples, resources for writing a business plan.

A comprehensive and well-written business plan can be used to persuade lenders that your business is worth investing in and hopefully, improve your chances of getting approved for a small-business loan . Many lenders will ask that you include a business plan along with other documents as part of your loan application.

When writing a business plan for a loan, you’ll want to highlight your abilities, justify your need for capital and prove your ability to repay the debt. 

Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

A successful business plan for a loan describes your financial goals and how you’ll achieve them. Although business plan components can vary from company to company, there are a few sections that are typically included in most plans.

These sections will help provide lenders with an overview of your business and explain why they should approve you for a loan.  

Executive summary

The executive summary is used to spark interest in your business. It may include high-level information about you, your products and services, your management team, employees, business location and financial details. Your mission statement can be added here as well.

To help build a lender’s confidence in your business, you can also include a concise overview of your growth plans in this section.

Company overview

The company overview is an area to describe the strengths of your business. If you didn’t explain what problems your business will solve in the executive summary, do it here. 

Highlight any experts on your team and what gives you a competitive advantage. You can also include specific details about your business such as when it was founded, your business entity type and history.

Products and services

Use this section to demonstrate the need for what you’re offering. Describe your products and services and explain how customers will benefit from having them. 

Detail any equipment or materials that you need to provide your goods and services — this may be particularly helpful if you’re looking for equipment or inventory financing . You’ll also want to disclose any patents or copyrights in this section.

Market analysis

Here you can demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and showcase your understanding of your industry, current outlook, trends, target market and competitors.

You can add details about your target market that include where you’ll find customers, ways you plan to market to them and how your products and services will be delivered to them.

» MORE: How to write a market analysis for a business plan

Marketing and sales plan

Your marketing and sales plan provides details on how you intend to attract your customers and build a client base. You can also explain the steps involved in the sale and delivery of your product or service.

At a high level, this section should identify your sales goals and how you plan to achieve them — showing a lender how you’re going to make money to repay potential debt.

Operational plan

The operational plan section covers the physical requirements of operating your business on a day-to-day basis. Depending on your type of business, this may include location, facility requirements, equipment, vehicles, inventory needs and supplies. Production goals, timelines, quality control and customer service details may also be included.

Management team

This section illustrates how your business will be organized. You can list the management team, owners, board of directors and consultants with details about their experience and the role they will play at your company. This is also a good place to include an organizational chart .

From this section, a lender should understand why you and your team are qualified to run a business and why they should feel confident lending you money — even if you’re a startup.

Funding request

In this section, you’ll explain the amount of money you’re requesting from the lender and why you need it. You’ll describe how the funds will be used and how you intend to repay the loan.

You may also discuss any funding requirements you anticipate over the next five years and your strategic financial plans for the future.

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

Financial statements

When you’re writing a business plan for a loan, this is one of the most important sections. The goal is to use your financial statements to prove to a lender that your business is stable and will be able to repay any potential debt. 

In this section, you’ll want to include three to five years of income statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets. It can also be helpful to include an expense analysis, break-even analysis, capital expenditure budgets, projected income statements and projected cash flow statements. If you have collateral that you could put up to secure a loan, you should list it in this section as well.

If you’re a startup that doesn’t have much historical data to provide, you’ll want to include estimated costs, revenue and any other future projections you may have. Graphs and charts can be useful visual aids here.

In general, the more data you can use to show a lender your financial security, the better.

Finally, if necessary, supporting information and documents can be added in an appendix section. This may include credit histories, resumes, letters of reference, product pictures, licenses, permits, contracts and other legal documents.

Lenders will typically evaluate your loan application based on the five C’s — or characteristics — of credit : character, capacity, capital, conditions and collateral. Although your business plan won't contain everything a lender needs to complete its assessment, the document can highlight your strengths in each of these areas.

A lender will assess your character by reviewing your education, business experience and credit history. This assessment may also be extended to board members and your management team. Highlights of your strengths can be worked into the following sections of your business plan:

Executive summary.

Company overview.

Management team.

Capacity centers on your ability to repay the loan. Lenders will be looking at the revenue you plan to generate, your expenses, cash flow and your loan payment plan. This information can be included in the following sections:

Funding request.

Financial statements.

Capital is the amount of money you have invested in your business. Lenders can use it to judge your financial commitment to the business. You can use any of the following sections to highlight your financial commitment:

Operational plan.

Conditions refers to the purpose and market for your products and services. Lenders will be looking for information such as product demand, competition and industry trends. Information for this can be included in the following sections:

Market analysis.

Products and services.

Marketing and sales plan.

Collateral is an asset pledged to a lender to guarantee the repayment of a loan. This can be equipment, inventory, vehicles or something else of value. Use the following sections to include information on assets:

» MORE: How to get a business loan

Writing a business plan for a loan application can be intimidating, especially when you’re just getting started. It may be helpful to use a business plan template or refer to an existing sample as you’re going through the draft process.

Here are a few examples that you may find useful:

Business Plan Outline — Colorado Small Business Development Center

Business Plan Template — Iowa Small Business Development Center

Writing a Business Plan — Maine Small Business Development Center

Business Plan Workbook — Capital One

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U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA offers a free self-paced course on writing a business plan. The course includes several videos, objectives for you to accomplish, as well as worksheets you can complete.

SCORE. SCORE, a nonprofit organization and resource partner of the SBA, offers free assistance that includes a step-by-step downloadable template to help startups create a business plan, and mentors who can review and refine your plan virtually or in person.

Small Business Development Centers. Similarly, your local SBDC can provide assistance with business planning and finding access to capital. These organizations also have virtual and in-person training courses, as well as opportunities to consult with business experts.

Business plan software. Although many business plan software platforms require a subscription, these tools can be useful if you want a templated approach that can break the process down for you step-by-step. Many of these services include a range of examples and templates, instruction videos and guides, and financial dashboards, among other features. You may also be able to use a free trial before committing to one of these software options.

A loan business plan outlines your business’s objectives, products or services, funding needs and finances. The goal of this document is to convince lenders that they should approve you for a business loan.

Not all lenders will require a business plan, but you’ll likely need one for bank and SBA loans. Even if it isn’t required, however, a lean business plan can be used to bolster your loan application.

Lenders ask for a business plan because they want to know that your business is and will continue to be financially stable. They want to know how you make money, spend money and plan to achieve your financial goals. All of this information allows them to assess whether you’ll be able to repay a loan and decide if they should approve your application.

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Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

Sections of a business plan, the bottom line.

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How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

How to secure business financing

Matt Webber is an experienced personal finance writer, researcher, and editor. He has published widely on personal finance, marketing, and the impact of technology on contemporary arts and culture.

how to do a business plan for a bank

A business plan is a document that explains what a company’s objectives are and how it will achieve them. It contains a road map for the company from a marketing, financial, and operational standpoint. Some business plans are more detailed than others, but they are used by all types of businesses, from large, established companies to small startups.

If you are applying for a business loan , your lender may want to see your business plan. Your plan can prove that you understand your market and your business model and that you are realistic about your goals. Even if you don’t need a business plan to apply for a loan, writing one can improve your chances of securing finance.

Key Takeaways

  • Many lenders will require you to write a business plan to support your loan application.
  • Though every business plan is different, there are a number of sections that appear in every business plan.
  • A good business plan will define your company’s strategic priorities for the coming years and explain how you will try to achieve growth.
  • Lenders will assess your plan against the “five Cs”: character, capacity, capital, conditions, and collateral.

There are many reasons why all businesses should have a business plan . A business plan can improve the way that your company operates, but a well-written plan is also invaluable for attracting investment.

On an operational level, a well-written business plan has several advantages. A good plan will explain how a company is going to develop over time and will lay out the risks and contingencies that it may encounter along the way.

A business plan can act as a valuable strategic guide, reminding executives of their long-term goals amid the chaos of day-to-day business. It also allows businesses to measure their own success—without a plan, it can be difficult to determine whether a business is moving in the right direction.

A business plan is also valuable when it comes to dealing with external organizations. Indeed, banks and venture capital firms often require a viable business plan before considering whether they’ll provide capital to new businesses.

Even if a business is well-established, lenders may want to see a solid business plan before providing financing. Lenders want to reduce their risk, so they want to see that a business has a serious and realistic plan in place to generate income and repay the loan.

Every business is different, and so is every business plan. Nevertheless, most business plans contain a number of generic sections. Common sections are: executive summary, company overview, products and services, market analysis, marketing and sales plan, operational plan, and management team. If you are applying for a loan, you should also include a funding request and financial statements.

Let’s look at each section in more detail.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a summary of the information in the rest of your business plan, but it’s also where you can create interest in your business.

You should include basic information about your business, including what you do, where you are based, your products, and how long you’ve been in business. You can also mention what inspired you to start your business, your key successes so far, and your growth plans.

Company Overview

In this section, focus on the core strengths of your business, the problem you want to solve, and how you plan to address it.

Here, you should also mention any key advantages that your business has over your competitors, whether this is operating in a new market or a unique approach to an existing one. You should also include key statistics in this section, such as your annual turnover and number of employees.

Products and Services

In this section, provide some details of what you sell. A lender doesn’t need to know all the technical details of your products but will want to see that they are desirable.

You can also include information on how you make your products, or how you provide your services. This information will be useful to a lender if you are looking for financing to grow your business.

Market Analysis

A market analysis is a core section of your business plan. Here, you need to demonstrate that you understand the market you are operating in, and how you are different from your competitors. If you can find statistics on your market, and particularly on how it is projected to grow over the next few years, put them in this section.

Marketing and Sales Plan

Your marketing and sales plan gives details on what kind of new customers you are looking to attract, and how you are going to connect with them. This section should contain your sales goals and link these to marketing or advertising that you are planning.

If you are looking to expand into a new market, or to reach customers that you haven’t before, you should explain the risks and opportunities of doing so.

Operational Plan

This section explains the basic requirements of running your business on a day-to-day basis. Your exact requirements will vary depending on the type of business you run, but be as specific as possible.

If you need to rent office space, for example, you should include the cost in your operational plan. You should also include the cost of staff, equipment, and any raw materials required to run your business.

Management Team

The management team section is one of the most important sections in your business plan if you are applying for a loan. Your lender will want reassurance that you have a skilled, experienced, competent, and reliable senior management team in place.

Even if you have a small team, you should explain what makes each person qualified for their position. If you have a large team, you should include an organizational chart to explain how your team is structured.

Funding Request

If you are applying for a loan, you should add a funding request. This is where you explain how much money you are looking to borrow, and explain in detail how you are going to use it.

The most important part of the funding-request section is to explain how the loan you are asking for would improve the profitability of your business, and therefore allow you to repay your loan.

Financial Statements

Most lenders will also ask you to provide evidence of your business finances as part of your application. Graphs and charts are often a useful addition to this section, because they allow your lender to understand your finances at a glance.

The overall goal of providing financial statements is to show that your business is profitable and stable. Include three to five years of income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. It can also be useful to provide further analysis, as well as projections of how your business will grow in the coming years.

What Do Lenders Look for in a Business Plan?

Lenders want to see that your business is stable, that you understand the market you are operating in, and that you have realistic plans for growth.

Your lender will base their decision on what are known as the “five Cs.” These are:

  • Character : You can stress your good character in your executive summary, company overview, and your management team section.
  • Capacity : This is, essentially, your ability to repay the loan. Your lender will look at your growth plans, your funding request, and your financial statements in order to assess this.
  • Capital : This is the amount of money you already have in your business. The larger and more established your business is, the more likely you are to be approved for finance, so highlight your capital throughout your business plan.
  • Conditions : Conditions refer to market conditions. In your market analysis, you should be able to prove that your business is well-positioned in relation to your target market and competitors.
  • Collateral : Depending on your loan, you may be asked to provide collateral , so you should provide information on the assets you own in your operational plan.

How Long Does It Take to Write a Business Plan?

The length of time it takes to write a business plan depends on your business, but you should take your time to ensure it is thorough and correct. A business plan has advantages beyond applying for a loan, providing a strategic focus for your business.

What Should You Avoid When Writing a Business Plan?

The most common mistake that business owners make when writing a business plan is to be unrealistic about their growth potential. Your lender is likely to spot overly optimistic growth projections, so try to keep it reasonable.

Should I Hire Someone to Write a Business Plan for My Business?

You can hire someone to write a business plan for your business, but it can often be better to write it yourself. You are likely to understand your business better than an external consultant.

Writing a business plan can benefit your business, whether you are applying for a loan or not. A good business plan can help you develop strategic priorities and stick to them. It describes how you are going to grow your business, which can be valuable to lenders, who will want to see that you are able to repay a loan that you are applying for.

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Market Research and Competitive Analysis .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Fund Your Business .”

Navy Federal Credit Union. “ The 5 Cs of Credit .”

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how to do a business plan for a bank

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How to write a business plan for a loan from a bank.

A businessman in an office uses his laptop to write a business plan for a loan from a bank.

Learn how to increase your chances of securing a bank loan with these business proposal tips.

If you want a bank loan to start a new business or expand your existing one, you’ll need a thorough business proposal (also known as a loan proposal). It shows the bank (or lender) that you’ve got a plan that’s likely to succeed.

But loan proposals can also be tedious and complicated to draft. Use the following tips to learn how to write a business proposal for a bank loan and get a head start on success.

Why writing a business proposal for a bank loan is necessary.

When you’re considering getting a loan from a bank to support your business , one important step is creating a well-thought-out business proposal. This will not only help you explain your business plans but also play a big role in helping the bank decide whether to approve your loan request. Here are the main reasons why putting together a solid business proposal for a bank loan is so important:

  • Clarity. A well-crafted business proposal helps you clearly articulate your business idea, goals, and objectives to the bank. This ensures that both you and the bank are on the same page regarding the purpose of the loan.
  • Risk assessment. Banks need to assess the risk associated with lending you money. Your business proposal provides them with vital information about your business model, market analysis, and strategies, enabling them to gauge the level of risk involved.
  • Repayment plan. Banks want to know how you plan to repay the loan. Your proposal should outline a clear and realistic repayment strategy, including cash flow projections and a timeline for repayment.
  • Financial health. Lenders need to determine if your business is financially viable and can generate enough income to cover loan repayments. Your proposal should demonstrate the financial health of your business through financial statements, revenue projections, and profit margins.
  • Legal requirements. Banks need to ensure that your business complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Your bank proposal letter for a business loan should address any legal considerations, licenses, permits, or certifications required.

What does a business plan proposal for a bank loan look like?

A business plan proposal for a bank loan is typically 20 to 30 pages long and follows a structured format:

  • Cover sheet. A cover sheet is often included at the beginning of the proposal. It typically contains the business name, logo (if applicable), contact information, and the date of submission.
  • Executive summary. This section provides a concise overview of the entire business proposal, summarizing key points such as the purpose of the loan, business description, financial projections, and the requested loan amount. It’s usually limited to one to two pages.
  • Business description. This section offers a detailed explanation of the business, its history, mission, and vision. It also outlines the industry it operates in, its target market, and its competitive analysis.
  • Market analysis. Includes market research findings, including market size, trends, and customer demographics. It should also detail your marketing and sales strategies.
  • Management team. Describes the qualifications and experience of key members of your management team. Include their roles and responsibilities.
  • Financial projections. Includes financial statements such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow projections. It should also outline how the loan will be used and how it will benefit the business.
  • Loan request. Specifies the loan amount you are requesting from the bank, along with the purpose of the loan.
  • Collateral and guarantees. If the loan requires collateral or personal guarantees, provide details about the assets or individuals involved.
  • Repayment plan. Explains your proposed loan repayment strategy, including the terms, interest rate, and repayment schedule.
  • Appendices. This section may include supporting documents, such as resumes of key team members, market research data, legal documents, and any other relevant information.

How to write a business proposal for a bank loan.

When it comes to securing a bank loan for your business, the quality of your business proposal can make all the difference. Let’s go through the process of how to write a business proposal for a bank loan.

Include critical details for the business plan in the proposal.

Your bank proposal should begin by introducing your business comprehensively. Cover essential aspects such as:

  • Business overview. Introduce your business with its name, legal structure, and establishment date.
  • Mission. Articulate your business’s purpose and long-term goals.
  • Market analysis. Provide insights into your industry, target market, and current trends.
  • Company history. Share key milestones and noteworthy achievements.
  • Contact information. Include up-to-date contact details.
  • Leadership team. Highlight key team members, their roles, qualifications, and relevant experience.
  • Legal structure. Specify your business’s legal structure and ownership.
  • Products/services. Describe your business offerings and emphasize their unique features.

Outline how you’ll pay the business loan back.

Every bank loan proposal should include some standard details like how much you need to borrow and how you’ll use the loan to advance your business.

More importantly, your business proposal should outline how you plan to pay the bank back. A few things you can write out to accomplish this include:

  • Three-to-five-year sales forecasts
  • Cash flow projections
  • Expense estimates

The more detail you include, the better. But don’t crunch a bunch of numbers on the very first page — make sure your proposal is clearly outlined and all information is grouped logically.

Break down your backup loan repayment plan.

Part of your business proposal’s job is to convince the bank that you can pay them back, whether you meet your sales projections or not. To demonstrate this, show proof of collateral (or something that secures the loan) in case things don’t go as planned after you invest in assets like new real estate, equipment, or inventory for your business.

Simplify the business plan proposal for the bank loan process.

To enhance your business plan proposal’s effectiveness for a bank loan, consider simplifying it. Create your own business proposal and make sure you have the documents required for loan approval to jump-start your path to success. It’s easy to create a PDF online for your bank loan proposal, so it’s easily accessible to share with others for feedback.

Explore everything you can do with Adobe Acrobat today.

how to do a business plan for a bank

I'm a financial planner — I have 4 tips for my business owner clients looking to open a business bank account

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  • Legally protecting yourself in case of an audit is the No. 1 reason to use a business bank account.
  • Different banks will offer different levels of convenience, and they'll come with different fees.
  • Fraud detection and other security features are especially important for protecting your business.

Insider Today

When starting a business, it can be overwhelming thinking about all the things you need to do and consider. However, it is essential that you do not overlook the value of opening a business bank account — usually both a business checking account and a high-yield business savings account .

As a CPA and financial planner, one of the first things I tell all my business owner clients to do is to keep their personal and business transactions separate. While there are a multitude of reasons you should have a separate bank account for your business, legal protection is certainly the most important.

If you experience an audit, it is important to have an easy way to track your business expenses and income. When business finances are commingled with personal finances, it becomes nearly impossible to provide a clear financial trail.

When choosing a business bank account, there are several important factors to consider. Here are four things I tell my business owner clients to consider when choosing a business bank account.

1. Access to banking services and customer service

When it comes to running a business, a variety of banking services can help you effectively manage your business finances. Beyond just opening a business bank account, you want to ensure that the financial institution you choose can provide access to services such as a checking account, savings account, business loans , wire transfers, fraud prevention services, a notary, checkbooks, business credit cards , online and mobile banking, and bill payment services.

If you want more one-on-one attention from a banker, consider opening an account with your local bank or credit union. You may also prefer a physical branch if you plan to make daily deposits or withdrawals of cash or checks.

This may be more challenging to do with an online bank. Many online banks may offer deposits and withdrawals, but their ATM network may not be as large as a well-known brick-and-mortar bank. For this reason, some small business owners open an account at their local bank where they have their personal accounts and know the level of customer service they will receive.

Consider opening your business checking and savings accounts at different financial institutions so that you can have access to both better banking services at a physical branch and higher interest rates at an online bank.

2. Terms and fees (including minimum balance)

The fees associated with business bank accounts can vary widely depending on the financial institution. Some of the most common fees to be aware of include monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees , wire transfer fees, minimum balance fees, and ATM fees.

You may find that online banks charge fewer fees than brick-and-mortar banks, but you must consider this in conjunction with the other features.

Seek an account with reasonable fees that can accommodate your business.

3. Ease of paying contractors

Some business bank accounts, especially online accounts, offer free invoicing and bookkeeping software/features.

If you use accounting software (such as QuickBooks) to manage your business finances, accessing a business bank account that offers integration features may be desirable. Trust me, this will make your or your accountant's life much easier.

In addition, some accounts allow integrations with payroll and tax preparation software. This will help to make the process of paying contractors with 1099s more seamless.

4. The bank's security offerings

One of the most important things you should consider when choosing a business bank account is security. There are certain features that you want to look for to make sure your account is protected.

First, you want to make sure that the bank you choose is FDIC-insured (or NCUA-insured if a credit union). In addition, you want to make sure that the institution has additional layers of security such as multi-factor authentication and fraud detection services, which include account monitoring and alerts for suspicious activity.

Ensure that whatever bank you choose offers the best security features to protect your business from fraud.

When choosing a bank account, consider all the various banking features offered by different financial institutions to find the one that best suits your business's financial needs. Also, remember that your decision is not permanent. It is easy to switch banks if necessary.

Watch: The 3 most important things you need to know about starting a business

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29 Best Banks for Small Business Owners in 2024

By Meaghan O'Neill , Kelsey Mulvey , and Lila Allen

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Running a business comes with plenty of fiscal responsibilities. Fortunately, opening an account with one of the best banks for small business can help with everything from administering payroll to budgeting for office supplies—even if numbers aren’t your forte. For an entrepreneur, opening a bank account for business might seem like a hassle, but separating personal and professional finances is a move that will pay off. Setting up a small business bank account makes it easy to spot paid bills, expenses, and payments received; plus, you can establish business line of credit , which is important if you want to apply for a business credit card or a small business loan . (A 2018 Nav survey found that 70% of small business owners without a professional checking account were denied by lenders.)

While many small business bank accounts have similarities, they can have nuances that may be better suited for your company’s needs. Ultimately, you’ll want to consider your company’s average account balance and number of transactions as well as logistical factors, like location, customer service, and mobile banking. While finding the right bank account for business can be challenging, AD PRO has assembled the tips below to help, as well as a list of the ultimate small business bank accounts.

Understanding small business bank account basics

Unless you have a background in banking services, researching small business bank accounts may feel overwhelming—but understanding the basics will help you make the best decisions for your company. Before you start your search for the best small business banking programs, consider a few of these FAQs.

What is a business checking account?

Think of a business checking account as the primary destination for all your company’s finances. When you open a business checking account, you can use it to pay invoices, bills, and employees, withdraw cash, and even receive payments from credit cards. So, how is that different from the checking account you already have? The main difference between a business checking account and a personal one is its intended purpose. Though you might be able to move funds into or out of it, a personal account isn’t set up with work in mind, and may have certain limitations. Meanwhile, a small business bank account is designed to support you as your business grows, which means you may be able to issue debit cards for employees or link finances up with your favorite bookkeeping software.

Since a business checking account is essential for most small businesses, you’ll want to open one immediately. But if you have even a small cash reserve, there’s value in opening a savings account too. Doing so can boost your line of credit, earn interest, and help you maintain minimum balance requirements.

How do you open a business bank account?

Once you find a bank that suits your small business needs, you’ll want to apply for an account promptly. Be ready to provide personal information like your social security number, mailing address, and a copy of your passport or driver’s license. Banks will also require you to submit your business’s name, address, an employer identification number (EIN), and any documentation to support the fact that your company is legitimate and you are the owner.

Some institutions may require deposits to open business bank accounts, but often that fee can be $100 or less. (If you opt for an option with no minimum opening balance, make sure to read the fine print to ensure you’re not compensating in monthly maintenance fees.) Some banks offer a sign-up bonus as a perk for opening an account; however, it’s important to prioritize whichever business checking account will be a good fit in the long run.

In most cases, you can quickly sign up for a business checking account online; however, approval may take a few business days.

How to choose a business bank account

No two companies are alike, which means your best small business banking match might be different from the rest of your network. But, if this is your very first time setting up a small business account, you may not even know what to look for in the first place.

Selecting the right small business bank account is a decision that should not be taken lightly. While some small business owners might want investing advice or great customer service, others might prioritize local knowledge or online convenience. To help, here are a few factors to consider.

Contrary to popular belief, a “free” business account isn’t always free. Although business banking accounts typically have higher fees than personal ones, some banks offer checking accounts with no monthly fees. However, account holders may need to maintain a minimum daily or monthly balance, or limit transactions to avoid fees. That said, free and low-cost accounts do exist. Read the fine print and choose wisely.

Unlike personal checking accounts, business bank accounts usually have limitations on monthly transactions (which include deposits, withdrawals, transfers, and electronic payments). Ranges vary, so it’s helpful to know where your small business falls on the spectrum, as well as the fees for exceeding the limit. There may also be a maximum to how many transactions you can make while still qualifying for a free account. Before applying, consider how your business operates on a monthly basis.

Many banks offer better rates to those small businesses that keep their balances above a certain amount, for either a daily or monthly average. Consider what yours will be and plan accordingly.

Today, you can have a small business account without ever stepping foot in a branch. For entrepreneurs who track their finances through websites or mobile apps—or complete most transactions online—going digital might be the right move. But if you deal with lots of cash, prefer human interaction, or want to build a rapport with a professional who understands your region or local economy, you’ll want to use a bank account with a physical branch nearby.

If you use QuickBooks, payroll software, or another accounting tool, you may want to work with a bank that allows you to integrate the data from your software. It’ll be a lot more efficient to balance your books if withdrawals automatically show up in QuickBooks. If you use PayPal or Square, you may find it helpful to have those transactions show up in your checking account too.

Small or large? As the business owner, the choice is yours. Having a close relationship with someone who works at a local bank (or a local branch of a national bank) can have its benefits. That person may have the ability to adjust fees or give you more wiggle room on a small business loan application. The downside of smaller banks is that information isn’t always clearly spelled out online, you may have to open an account in person, and the online banking tools may be lacking. By contrast, larger banks are likelier to outline fine print online and allow you to open an account digitally.

If you like the bank you use for personal finances, and it has a business checking account option that matches your needs, there’s nothing wrong with opening an account there. Being able to access information from multiple accounts through one location, website, or mobile app is a nice bonus.

With so many options, it’s easy to select a bank account for business that caters to your needs. But first, consider where your business will be a few years down the road. If you’re looking to scale up, you might want to consider a program with more monthly transactions than you currently need. Or, if you want to add an e-commerce element to your business plan, you might want to explore accounts with merchant services.

Should you join a credit union?

A business bank account is one way to manage your professional finances, but it’s not the only option. Some small business owners might find themselves drawn to a credit union, which is typically a cooperative, member-owned organization. The main difference between the two is that a bank is a for-profit financial institution, and a credit union is generally a nonprofit service. Additionally, small business owners will have to become a member of a credit union to use their services, while a bank only requires an account.

Although many credit unions might offer similar services—such as administering loans as well as setting up checking and saving accounts—they might have fewer features than a typical bank.

The best banks for small businesses

There are more than 4,100 commercial banks in the US offering thousands of business checking account options. What busy entrepreneur has time to sort through it all? Instead, read the list below for the best banks for small businesses.

This business bank account allows up to 100 transactions per fee period at no charge and cash deposits up to $5,000 per month. Although this account has a $10 monthly service fee, it can be avoided with a $500 daily balance. With a minimum opening deposit of just $25, this solution is excellent for a small business with limited cash-flow activity. The Initiate Business Checking account might be the simplest of Wells Fargo’s offerings, but it still offers a zero-liability debit card protection as well as fraud monitoring. And, as with all Wells Fargo business checking accounts, small business owners can apply online or in person, then send deposits and required documents later.

Sole proprietors with a lot of clients will find a lot to love about the Bluevine Business Checking account. Unlike larger banks, Bluevine has unlimited transactions as well as no monthly service fees or minimum balances with its standard plan. What’s more, account holders can access over 128,500 ATMs and retailers to deposit or withdraw cash. You’ll have some peace of mind knowing Bluevine does not charge overdraft fees. Small business owners can also earn up to 4.25% APY on balances up to $3 million, with $3 million in FDIC protection. And, to make your banking even easier, sync up your Bluevine business checking account with payment platforms like Venmo and Square, or accounting tools like QuickBooks Online.

At Comerica, a small $50 deposit can grant you a no-interest account without a monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirement. You can also waive your activity fees with deposits up to $2,500 per month, or 75 or fewer transactions. Comerica can sync with QuickBooks, making it possible to send digital payments or keep tabs on your accounting. Plus, as your business grows, you can upgrade to another account using the same account number. Comerica is not a nation-wide chain, but it does have locations in several states (though fees and conditions will vary).

If your business bank account needs are fairly simple, and you require few monthly transactions, Truist Simple Business Checking account could be a good option. With no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirement, this small business bank account can be a great option for entrepreneurs who are just starting out. The account includes 50 transactions and $2,000 in cash processing per month. Stipulations and rules are laid out in further detail on its website.

With no monthly account maintenance fee for the first three months and a digital cash flow platform that helps you operate your business finances, this competitive account may be a good fit if you need checking but not a lot of transactions (150 or fewer per month). Once the $12 monthly fee kicks in, avoid it by maintaining a $500 average monthly collected balance.

With 250 transactions and $20,000 in cash deposits per pay period, Wells Fargo’s Navigate Business Checking account can be a great option for entrepreneurs whose businesses are growing quickly. Avoid the $25 monthly service fee by keeping a $10,000 minimum daily balance or $15,000 in combined balances across Wells Fargo accounts. (You can also make qualifying transactions from a linked payroll services account.) Small business owners with a Navigate Business Checking account pay no fees for incoming wire transfers, overdraft protection transfers, stop payments, cashier’s checks, or money orders. Plus, receive two complimentary outgoing domestic wire transfers and two non-Wells Fargo ATM cash withdrawals per fee period. Applying requires a minimum opening deposit of $25.

For a monthly maintenance fee-free checking account with no minimum balance, consider a First Citizens’ basic business bank account. The bank offers free transactions for up to 100 items and $5,000 each month. First Citizens has a robust digital banking program, but if you want to handle your finances in person, visit 500-plus branches in states such as California, North Carolina, Virginia, and more. At a minimum deposit of $100, this bank account for business is a little pricier upfront than some other affordable options, but there’s definitely a payoff with its perks.

This Bank of America account is great for the growing small business. Avoid the $16 monthly fee by spending $250 on net-qualified debit card purchases, maintaining a combined monthly average balance of $5,000, or becoming a Preferred Rewards Business member. Not only is Bank of America’s small business account equipped with small fraud protection and security—giving you some extra peace of mind—but it’s also linked to Zelle so you can easily send and receive money. Bank of America also has a handful of tools like Cash Flow Monitor and mobile check deposit so you can stay dialed into your day-to-day finances. You can apply online, but note that Bank of America outlets don’t exist everywhere.

This straightforward business checking account offers unlimited debit card purchases and transactions within the Chase ATM network, plus up to $5,000 in free cash deposits per statement cycle. The $15-per-month fee is waived when you maintain a $2,000 minimum daily balance or link a Chase private checking account. Apply online, or visit one of Chase’s many US locations to get started. Plus, earn $300 when you open a Business Complete Checking account with qualifying activities.

Conduct up to 300 transactions per month and deposit up to $5,000 in cash with Comerica’s Small Business Checking account, which waives monthly fees with monthly balances of $7,500 or more. Fees and conditions vary by location, so ask a Comerica representative before you apply. Like the company’s Basic Business Checking account, you’ll receive a year of bill-pay service free. This platform also offers specialized services such as an automated bill payment schedule and payroll activities.

This basic business checking account is ideal for businesses that make fewer than 250 transactions and less than $5,000 or $10,000 (depending on the state) in deposits. Maintain the minimum monthly balance of $5,000 to avoid the monthly fee of $15. One caveat: You must apply at a physical branch, but, once you have your small business account, you can receive text and email notifications and stay up-to-date with the brand’s mobile app.

With Business Advantage, you’ll pay no fees for stop payments, incoming wire transfers, or electronic deposits. You’ll also receive up to 500 transactions per month. Though fees are comparatively steep at $29.95 per cycle, you can avoid them in a number of flexible ways, such as spending with a business credit card or maintaining a monthly balance of $15,000. Bank of America also offers merchant and payroll services.

U.S. Bank’s Gold Business Checking Package can manage cash flow with 300 free transactions and $10,000 cash deposits (or 100 free cash transactions) per statement cycle. Small business owners can also get a 50% discount on their first check order up to $100. U.S. Bank offers overdraft protection and an EZ-Switch Kit to help you conveniently transfer a new business account. And, thanks to U.S. Bank’s SinglePoint Essentials, you can keep tabs on check, wire, and ACH accounts in one place.

Best for larger organizations with high transaction volume and complex cash management needs. After opening with a deposit of $25 or more, you’ll have up to 250 free transactions per statement period, with no fees for stop payments, cashier’s checks, wire transfers, or money orders. This offering is supported by Wells Fargo’s Commercial Electronic Office, which offers treasury insights, customized reports, ACH origination, and other online banking services.

If your small business has up to 500 basic transactions monthly and averages a monthly balance of at least $10,000, this business bank account may be for you. You’ll skip the account’s $30 monthly fee if you meet the minimum balance, and you can deposit up to $20,000 each month. And, thanks to CitiBusiness’s Safety Check, your small business checking account will cover overdrafts by transferring funds for your linked savings account or credit line.

With this PNC business bank account, there’s no charge for up to 500 combined transactions per month. Though the $22 monthly maintenance fee is waived for the first three statement cycles, this small business bank account offers more opportunities to offset that regular charge than the company’s Business Checking option. There’s also cash-flow insight and analysis and a business debit card no charge. Earn cash back on everyday expenses with PNC’s Purchase Payback program, and the bank’s Quick Switch Kit makes it easy to change banks.

If your business is expanding quickly, this Citizens account—which offers 500 free check transactions per statement period—may give you a nice boost. Waive the monthly $25 fee by maintaining a $10,000 average daily balance or $35,000 monthly combined balance. Apply for an account in person at one of the bank’s 1,000-plus branch locations.

The Enhanced option of Capital One’s small business banking platform has online banking options like bill pay and mobile banking, as well as perks like unlimited free domestic wires and no-fee digital transactions. Account holders can also send out up to five domestic wires each month for no charge. The $35 monthly fee can be waived with a $25,000 minimum 30- or 90-day average balance. And like other Capital One banking offerings, accounts are FDIC-insured.

A standout among online-only business bank accounts, Novo offers free business checking with no hidden fees. (It will even refund up to $7 in ATM fees each month.) Novo also no longer requires a minimum balance to open an account. ACH transfers are a breeze, but if you need to issue a physical check, they’ve also got you covered. Digital entrepreneurs will appreciate Novo’s easy-to-understand analysis and human-powered customer service department, and, as a digital native, this bank also takes integration seriously, interfacing with Shopify, Stripe, Amazon, and Xero.

If you are a small business owner without a lot of cash to spare, Varo’s proactive platform might be for you. The online bank prides itself on having no hidden costs, as well as waiving monthly maintenance fees, required minimum balance, foreign transaction fees, and ATM fees within the Allpoint network. Depending on the timing, Varo claims that its direct deposit feature can help you get paid up to two days earlier than other banks. And if you want to focus on growing your business’s wealth, opt into Varo’s Save Your Change and Save Your Pay programs.

Designed for small businesses with moderate account activity, Axos Bank charges no monthly maintenance fees and offers unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements. You’ll get your first set of 50 checks free, QuickBooks compatibility, up to 60 items per month through Axos’s Remote Deposit Anywhere program. Not only does this small business bank account require no initial deposit or minimum balance requirements, new business owners are currently also eligible for a $400 welcome bonus.

Created exclusively for sole proprietors and single-owner LLCs, EverBank’s Small Business Checking Account offers no monthly maintenance fees and competitive APYs on balances. Opening a business checking account through EverBank (formerly TIAA Bank) isn’t cheap—it requires a $1,500 deposit—but you will be reimbursed for up to $15 in ATM fees, and you’ll receive overdraft protection. Other services include domestic and foreign wire transfers, comprehensive bill pay solutions, ACH transfers, and thorough financial reporting and analysis.

If you’re a growing business with some cash reserves, this Axos business bank account offers competitive interest rates and no monthly maintenance fee with an average daily balance of $5,000 (it’s $10 monthly). Like the bank’s Basic Business Checking account, you’ll receive unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements and your first 50 checks free. With the account you’ll also get up to 60 remote deposits per month.

Among regional options, Citizens Bank Clearly Better Business Checking offering is one of the best small business bank accounts in its field, with no maintenance fees and no minimum monthly balance. This small business account includes coverage of 200 check transactions per statement period. Apply in person at one of the bank’s 1,000-plus branches throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest.

TD is a great option for the small business owner who wants a local bank and has moderate to high monthly transaction volume (meaning up to 500 of them) and cash deposits up to $5,000. Though monthly maintenance fees are $25, they can be waived by meeting a $1,500 minimum balance and a personal checking account can be bundled to meet the requirement. It’s also an ideal choice for those doing regular business in Canada as it’s a subsidiary of the Canadian Toronto-Dominion Bank. One downside: You might be charged a small fee when you use non-TD ATMs.

Start-ups and sole proprietors located in the Southeast with light transaction volume who want great customer service may find just what they’re looking for at Bank OZK. This Little Rock, Arkansas, establishment offers small business bank accounts with 250 combined transactions per statement cycle (there’s a fee of 50 cents after that). Skip the $10 monthly service fee by maintaining a daily balance of $500 or more. Only $100 is required to open this non-interest-bearing account, but you will need to visit a physical branch to apply.

Located in Florida, New York, and New Jersey, Popular Bank’s Popular Checking account is a good fit for small businesses with moderate transaction volume earning up to $250,000 per year. The account includes up to 100 items per month at no cost as well as $5,000 in monthly cash deposits. (It’s 35 cents per hundred dollars deposited after.) Plus, this business checking account will waive the monthly $15 fee with an average monthly balance of $5,000 or more.

Veterans and military service members (as well as their immediate family) who join this national credit union and sign up for the Business Plus Checking program have access to 50 free non-electronic transactions per month (a fee of 25 cents per item applies after that), a competitive dividend rate (earned daily), and a 0.01% APY. This specific tier also has a low $8 monthly maintenance fee. While this program is a great deal for sole proprietors, it allows for unlimited signers, making this a solid option for smaller startup too.

With no minimum balance requirement and no monthly service charge, American First offers its members an astounding 1,000 free monthly transactions and up to $10,000 cash deposits per month through its Totally Free Business Checking account. You’ll also get a free detailed analysis of your account activity, which makes it even easier to keep tabs on your finances. Bring your completed application into an American First Credit Union branch to open your small business account, with just $50 as an opening deposit. Though there are only a few American First branches—all located in California—you can conduct routine transactions at any of 5,000 cooperative credit unions across the nation and have access to 30,000 no-fee ATMs.

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


Creating a business plan is essential for any business, but it can be especially helpful for digital bank businesses that want to improve their strategy or raise funding.

A well-crafted business plan outlines the vision for your company, but also 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 critical elements every digital bank business owner should include in their business plan.

Download the Ultimate Business Plan Template

What is a Digital Bank Business Plan?

A digital 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 Digital Bank Business Plan?

A digital bank business plan is required for banks and investors. The document is a clear and concise guide to 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 Digital Bank Business Plan

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

Executive Summary

The executive summary of a digital 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.

  • Start with a one-line description of your digital bank company
  • Provide a summary of the key points in each section of your business plan, which includes information about your company’s management team, industry analysis, competitive analysis, and financial forecast, among others.

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 digital 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 digital bank firm, mention this.

You will also include information about your chosen digital 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 important component of a digital bank business plan. Conduct thorough market research to determine industry trends and document the size of your market. 

Questions to answer include:

  • What part of the digital bank industry are you targeting?
  • How big is the market?
  • What trends are happening in the industry right now (and if applicable, how do these trends support your company’s success)?

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 digital bank business’ customers may include:

  • Small businesses that need online banking solutions
  • Start-ups and tech companies that are looking for innovative ways to manage their finances
  • Freelancers and consultants who need a simple way to get paid and track expenses

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 digital 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 digital bank business may have:

  • 24/7 customer service
  • Higher deposit limits
  • More locations
  • Better mobile app

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.

  • Product/Service : Detail your product/service offerings here. Document their features and benefits.
  • Price : Document your pricing strategy here. In addition to stating the prices for your products/services, mention how your pricing compares to your competition.
  • Place : Where will your customers find you? What channels of distribution (e.g., partnerships) will you use to reach them if applicable?
  • Promotion : How will you reach your target customers? For example, you may use social media, write blog posts, create an email marketing campaign, use pay-per-click advertising, or launch a direct mail campaign. Or you may promote your digital bank business via a PR or influencer marketing campaign.

Operations Plan

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

  • How will you deliver your product/service to customers? For example, will you do it in person or over the phone?
  • What infrastructure, equipment, and resources are needed to operate successfully? How can you meet those requirements within budget constraints?

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 digital bank business include reaching $X in sales. Other examples include expanding to new markets, developing new products and services, and hiring new personnel.

Management Team

List your team members here, including their names and titles, as well as their expertise and experience relevant to your specific digital 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:

  • Revenue : how much revenue you generate.
  • Cost of Goods Sold : These are your direct costs associated with generating revenue. This includes labor costs, as well as the cost of any equipment and supplies used to deliver the product/service offering.
  • Net Income (or loss) : Once expenses and revenue are totaled and deducted from each other, this is the net income or loss.

Sample Income Statement for a Startup Digital Bank Firm

Balance sheet.

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

  • Assets : All of the things you own (including cash).
  • Liabilities : This is what you owe against your company’s assets, such as accounts payable or loans.
  • Equity : The worth of your business after all liabilities and assets are totaled and deducted from each other.

Sample Balance Sheet for a Startup Digital Bank Firm

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 ash flow from:

  • Investments

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

Sample Cash Flow Statement for a Startup Digital Bank Firm

Finally, you will also want to include an appendix section which will include:

  • Your complete financial projections
  • A complete list of your company’s business policies and procedures related to the rest of the business plan (marketing, operations, etc.)
  • Any other documentation which supports what you included in the body of your business plan.

Create Your Digital Bank Business Plan

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

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

Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

Wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With our Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

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