How do you make a business plan for your startup? A business plan template, or company proforma, plots out the trajectory of your business based on its current restraints in order to map its projected future backed up by hard data. Below, we share how to use our Business Plan financial template (available in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets) to save you hours of work as you launch your next venture.
Why do you need a business plan?
Mike Tyson once said, "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Business plans are especially important for companies that want to raise money or grow quickly. They help you project your future revenues and profits given a few critical assumptions. Your assumptions need to be real; otherwise, you'll be punched in the mouth when you launch and the market dictates that they were off.
Our Business Plan template allows you to project your company's revenues across multiple subscriptions or services, as well as multiple products. The template has tons of charts and diagrams to visualize your profits, capital expenditures or CAPEX, employee salaries, company expenses, and so on.
For subscriptions, we track the lifetime value, cost of acquisition, and lifetime period of your subscribers, as well as other subscription-focused metrics. For products our model allows you to take into account returns, marketplace fees, and other typical product-related expenses.
To learn the step-by-step process of how to put together your own business plan to project your future profits, you can watch the explainer video above. Below, we dive into the spreadsheet model of the business plan template and how its core functionality works so you can easily create your own business plan.
To begin using this business plan template, enter your company name and start year in the information tab. Anything in blue is a number needed to input. The validator checkbox can be checked once you are sure the data entered is absolutely correct. The static inputs are those that don't change over time. The dynamic inputs, like inflation rate, credit card fees, and rent increase rate are those that will likely change over time.
You can enter a default value in the first column or customize these numbers to anything you want later in the table. Everything is added together in the "Summary" tab to determine the net income for your business. This data is then visualized in the "Charts" tab to present your business plan to investors, partners, and potential customers with the expected trajectory of your company to demonstrate the value of your proposed subscription services, products, or other tangible services your business could provide.
Calculate subscription revenue
At the top of any "Subscription" tab, you can enter the name of your potential service. If you plan to sell your service in a marketplace like an app store, you can enter the marketplace fee, commissions to salespeople, or the percentage of transactions that are credit card-based. For example, if you sell on Amazon, 100% of your sales are credit card-based. All of the subscription tabs ("Subscription A", "Subscription B") are identical but provide you with the opportunity to separate subscriptions separately, so they don't become comingled. These are all presented in the "Summary" tab to see how many new and active subscribers you have for each separate subscription.
LTQ and LTV of subscribers
When a user subscribes to your service, they subscribe for a number of quarters. This is called the Lifetime Quarter (LTQ) of the member. In this model, the subscriber is expected to pay the subscription fee for four quarters. At the end of the four quarters, we expect to pay a total lifetime value (LTV) of $300. In order to change the number of new subscribers that come in during a given quarter, you can edit the quarters at the top of the row. When this is done, the number will be bolded and in blue. This is so you know the number is different from the default you entered at the beginning.
With our business plan amortization model, you can enter the new number of subscribers you expect each quarter, and we calculate the number of active subscribers that will remain on your platform. The number of active subscribers plateaus over time. This is because as new members join, other members cancel or churn. This makes your active subscribers flatten out. The amortization calculation is hidden, but you can see the numbers crunched with the drop-down to expand the rows. This amortization is the main difference between a product business plan and a subscriber business plan.
The business plan also lists all of the expenses that are most commonly associated with a subscription which you can edit and customize. A subscriber has two types of expenses: expenses related to when they join, such as advertising and marketing spend needed to gain each new subscriber. There are also expenses related to active subscribers, like support or operational expenses. You can also add expenses to fit your needs.
Subscription services come with upfront capital investments to develop the software. These can be added down in the "Other" section. If you expect to create a new version of your software five years down the line, make sure to add it to the timeline based on the year and quarter where you expect to begin development of the next service. At the bottom of the tab is the Yearly Summary of all the financial metrics listed above that summarizes the total gross revenue and total product expenses for the total operating income for every year.
Present to investors
In the Summary tab, the business plan template presents all the numbers for all the subscription services and products the company offers. The business plan model calculates everything from profits to net income to contribution to CAPEX. It mixes subscriptions with products along with companywide expenses expected to experience over time.
Visualize data with charts
After you enter all the data for your company in the information tab, product and subscription tabs, and Summary tabs, you will get all the different visualizations we created to summarize the performance of your company to investors and partners. For example, we visualized the revenues and expenses of all subscription services over ten years on a quarterly model. Further down, we do the same thing for all of your products. Our business plan template allows you to separate multiple products and multiple subscriptions into one simple business plan. Plus, we have also modularized the data to easily pull the information you want to generate your own charts.
Breakeven point and IRR
In the Summary tab, you can also track contributions towards CAPEX to see how, across time, you'll pay off your original capital expenditure to bring your company to reality. This is all represented at the bottom to learn in what year, and in what quarter, is your breakeven point. This breakeven point helps determine how many quarters it will take to get back all your investments and earn true profits. The IRR at the bottom then helps determine if this will be a profitable venture or not.
Calculate product revenue
In addition to subscriptions, you can also calculate the future revenues of a product you want to sell as part of your business plan. At the top of the "Product" tab, enter the name of your product, marketplace fee and sales commissions, and the number of credit card transactions (same as for the subscription fee). Unique to a product as opposed to a subscription is that products have inventory fees, resale prices, and a cost to process a return. To project your future revenues, you can change the product price for any upcoming quarter going forward. You can also update the number of products sold each quarter over the next ten years.
Account for inflation and operational expenses
Our model adds inflation to each expense of the product or subscription. So for a single unit of a product, each sub-part cost is listed. This could be an ingredient list, like if you were selling a shampoo product. These costs are increased over time with the inflation tool for the most accurate measurement of future revenues and expenses. To turn off inflation, go to the information tab to increase or decrease the rate of inflation you expect.
You can also enter operational costs, like the processing, packaging, and shipping costs for each individual product, as well as marketing and advertising expenses for a single unit. All of these expenses are added up, along with the expected rate of returns, to generate your expected operating income. This is how much Product A will generate every quarter for the next 10 years.
Before you sell the product, there are also CAPEX expenses to account for. For example, you need to create the product with a product model, build relationships with suppliers, create the brand and packaging design, etc. All these capital expenditures are included in the CAPEX section, and everything is calculated for the year at the bottom in the Yearly Summary, and each product is calculated separately in the Summary tab.
The "Expenses" tab of the business plan sheet calculates the total salary and bonus costs of every employee you'll need for your business. This is added to the company overhead, which includes transportation, office, and external expenses that are added to the CAPEX expenses needed to create the company for the overall overhead expenses.
Your company will need to hire multiple kinds of employees - marketers, designers, engineers, etc. To calculate how many companies will work at your company for the next ten years, you can count how many of each role you want to hire or fire every quarter for the next 10 years. Like other tabs, custom inputs become highlighted in blue once they are changed.
Per head, per role expenses
For each individual employee you plan to hire, you can enter their salary, bonuses, and cost of equipment for this employee to carry out their tasks. Once entered, our model does the math to calculate payroll taxes and everything else. The total workday expense for each employee can also be calculated. This includes the daily or weekly expenses provided to employees, like in-office food, drinks, and health supplies, as well as monthly amenities like healthcare, parking, and gym memberships. These are then calculated and listed below.
The same is calculated for any expense unrelated to employees, like office and rent expenses. Multiple offices can be listed along with per-year expenses like events and transportation or external expenses like PR, accounting, and legal fees for similar services, which are all calculated at the bottom for the total company overhead. The overall company expenses are added along with the company CAPEX at the bottom to account for everything needed to build the company. Similar to the subscription and product tabs, it can account for future expenses as well.
Why do you need a business plan template?
A business plan outlines your financial goals and explains how you plan to achieve them to share with investors, partners, or creditors. A well-constructed plan should cover all the key details about your business's goals, products or services, and most importantly, finances. A business plan template in Word isn't enough. You need strong calculations to back up your assumptions with a roadmap for the first three to five years at a minimum. Our proforma Business Plan template provides the analysis you need to prove your potential revenues outweigh your potential expenses to create a financially secure business for the foreseeable future.
To learn more about how to create your own business plan for a billion-dollar business, check out our explainer video on what additional elements need to go into your business plan (besides financial projections from a business plan proforma) to bootstrap a billion-dollar idea into reality.