How To Write A Business Plan For A Loan: Complete Guide For 2023
A solid business plan is often critical to securing funding for your small business. Learn how to create a business plan for a loan that includes the information lenders want to see.
A business plan is a crucial business document you need to have on hand when applying for business loans. However, the mere thought of writing a business plan for a loan is intimidating to a lot of business owners.
A one-page business plan may be sufficient for certain types of small business loans (for example, online loans), but bank loans and SBA loans typically require a more in-depth business plan that delves further into your financials.
If you need to write a business plan for a loan, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about everything you need to include in your business plan to improve your chances for loan approval.
Table of Contents
- What Is A Business Plan For A Loan?
- 10 Key Sections To Include In Your Business Plan
- What Do Lenders Look For In A Business Plan?
- Business Plan Examples
- Resources For Writing A Business Plan For A Loan
- Final Thoughts On Writing A Business Plan For A Loan
- FAQs About How To Create A Business Plan For A Loan
What Is A Business Plan For A Loan?
A business plan is a written document that provides a complete overview of your business, including information about your business’s services, strategies, finances, and goals. All businesses should have a business plan, but a business plan is especially important when applying for a business loan.
10 Key Sections To Include In Your Business Plan
Most business plans should include some version of the following sections. Depending on your industry and other factors, such as whether you own a startup or established business, some sections could be condensed or combined. The exact verbiage for section titles can vary, as well.
For a business plan that’s longer than one page, it’s a good idea to preface these sections with a cover page and table of contents.
What Do Lenders Look For In A Business Plan?
If you know what lenders are looking for in a business plan for a loan, you will increase your chances of approval. Learn the five things lenders want to see in your business plan, followed by five tips to create a loan-worthy business plan.
The 5 Cs Of Credit
The Five Cs of Credit is a phrase that summarizes what lenders look for when deciding whether to extend a loan to a business. Lenders will, accordingly, look for the five Cs when reviewing the business plan in your loan application. The five Cs are:
- Character: Your knowledge, experience, and creditworthiness
- Capacity: Your ability to repay the loan
- Capital: How much you have already invested in your business
- Conditions: Your market viability, considering your industry as well as overall economic conditions
- Collateral: Assets you can use to secure the loan
5 Business Plan Tips For Loan Approval
Besides emphasizing your “5 Cs,” there are a few other things you can do to make the best impression with your business plan to increase your chances of securing funding.
- Avoid Industry Jargon: Use plain English rather than industry terminology that the lender might not be familiar with. Remember that the loan underwriter may not have deep knowledge of your specific industry.
- Show Cash Flow: Cash flow is one of the most important factors that determine loan eligibility. You can even get a loan with bad credit as long as your cash flow is sufficiently high. The more insight you can provide into your past, current, and future cash flow, the better.
- Show Your Investment: Before extending a loan, the lender will want to see that you have already invested some of your own resources, such as personal savings, into your business. Be sure to include documentation that demonstrates your investment.
- Enlist Help: You will likely need some professional assistance in creating your business plan, whether that means hiring a writer, an industry consultant, or both. At the very least, you should have a third party review your business plan before you submit it as part of a loan application.
- Revise Your Plan As Needed: If this is the first time you’ve taken a close look at your business strategy and financials, you will surely learn some things about your business while creating your plan. For example, you may realize you cannot afford a business loan as large as you planned to ask for. Rather than trying to justify the number you started with, it’s better to modify your funding request (and other aspects of your plan) to align with your financial reality.
Business Plan Examples
It’s easy to find templates and examples of business plans online. Though you may not want to copy and paste from a template verbatim, these samples provide a starting point and show you different ways a business plan can be structured. Here are a few to start with:
- Business plan template for a startup (from SCORE)
- Business plan template for traditional businesses (from the SBA)
- Business plan template for retail or eCommerce (from Shopify; requires email address)
Resources For Writing A Business Plan For A Loan
These tools and resources can help you create a solid business plan for a loan. While some free business plan creation tools are available online, you will have to pay for some options.
SBA Business Plan Resources (Free)
The SBA has a great resource in its online learning center that includes business plan worksheets. In addition to business plan templates, the SBA also helps you connect to free local business counselors who may be able to help you with your business plan.
Business Plan Software ($)
If you need extra help creating a business plan and don’t mind spending a little bit of money, consider business plan creation software. For example, LivePlan ($20/month) is business plan software that connects with QuickBooks to import your financial data to your plan.
Business Plan Writer/Consultant ($$$)
If you’re willing to invest more heavily into your business plan, consider hiring a writer or consultant that specializes in creating business plans. This option costs anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000, with the lower end of that scale typically including only basic writing services and the higher end representing a specialized industry consultant agency.
Final Thoughts On Writing A Business Plan For A Loan
While it’s helpful to know how to write a business plan for a loan, you can always hire someone to help you draft the plan if the task is too daunting. A business plan is a worthwhile investment no matter what type of business you have or whether you are currently trying to secure business funding. Even if you don’t need a loan right now, it’s important to maintain an updated business plan to serve as a guide for your own business decisions.
Was your loan denied because of your business plan (or another reason)? Learn what to do if your business loan was denied.