13 Free Templates Every Small Business Needs in 2024

As a small business owner, you‘re constantly juggling a million tasks with limited time and resources. In fact, a recent survey found that 70% of small business owners say they don‘t have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

But what if there was a way to streamline your workflows, maintain consistency, and save precious time on essential business activities? Enter: templates.

Templates provide a proven framework for tackling common business tasks and documents in a fraction of the time. And best of all, many of the most useful templates are available completely free online.

We‘ve scoured the web to bring you 13 of the best free templates that every small business should have in their toolkit. These plug-and-play solutions will help you:

  • Create polished, professional client-facing documents
  • Organize and track your business finances
  • Plan and execute effective marketing campaigns
  • Onboard and manage your team efficiently
  • Impress investors with a compelling pitch

Whether you‘re just starting out or looking to level up your operations, these templates will give you a major leg up. Let‘s dive in.

1. Invoice Template

Getting paid is pretty important for any business. But creating and sending invoices can be a huge time suck, especially if you‘re starting from scratch each time.

That‘s where an invoice template comes in clutch. With a professional, standardized invoice template, you can:

  • Ensure you include all the necessary info (business name, client details, line items, payment terms, etc.)
  • Avoid errors or inconsistencies that make you look unprofessional
  • Save time on repetitive data entry and formatting
  • Get paid faster with clear payment instructions

While there are many invoicing software options out there, you can find plenty of high-quality invoice templates for Word, Excel, Google Docs, and PDF completely free.

Some of our favorites:

Just remember to adapt the template to your business‘s specific needs. Add your logo, colors, and any unique billing situations or terms.

2. Profit & Loss Statement Template

Do you know if your business is actually making money? Tracking your profits and losses is critical for any small business, but many owners put it off because it seems too complex or time-consuming.

A P&L template makes it dead simple to monitor your business‘s financial health at a glance. It lays out a standard format to track your:

  • Income/Revenue
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)
  • Gross Margin
  • Operating Expenses
  • Net Profit

By comparing your total revenue to all your costs and expenses over a set period (monthly, quarterly, or annually), you can quickly gauge if you‘re operating at a profit or loss. This helps you make smarter financial decisions, spot issues early, and forecast future growth.

For an easy way to generate a P&L, check out:

Pop in your numbers and let the template do the math for you. Customize the expense categories to match your chart of accounts.

Profit and Loss Statement Template

3. Business Plan Template

Starting and growing a successful business requires more than just a great idea – you need a roadmap to get there. That‘s where a business plan comes in.

A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines your:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Service/product overview
  • Marketing and sales plan
  • Financial projections
  • Funding request

It forces you to research and validate your concept, spot potential challenges, and persuade investors or lenders to support your vision.

But many small business owners get overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a 30+ page document. The good news is, you don‘t have to start from zero. Using a business plan template ensures you don‘t miss any key sections while cutting your writing time in half.

For traditional business plans, you can find detailed templates for free from:

For a faster, more modern approach, try a lean one-page business plan template like those offered by $100 Startup or Invoiceberry.

The most important thing is to adapt the template to your needs and voice – don‘t just rely on the sample text. Do the legwork to validate your idea and create realistic financial projections.

4. Content Calendar Template

"Small businesses that have a content marketing strategy get 126% more leads than those that don‘t." – Source: Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing – creating blog posts, videos, social media posts, etc. to attract and engage your target customers – is one of the most effective ways to grow your small business. But constantly coming up with ideas and publishing on multiple platforms can quickly eat up your time and mental energy.

The solution? Use a content calendar template to plan out your content mix in advance for the month or quarter. A content calendar helps you:

  • Brainstorm relevant topics and tie them to your business goals
  • Plan the best content format and distribution channel for each piece
  • Schedule posts to publish at optimal times for your audience
  • Keep your content organized and consistent across platforms
  • Collaborate and communicate with your team

Some helpful content calendar templates to check out:

Use these as a starting point and customize to your content mix and workflow. Color code by theme, add a notes column for optimizing SEO, or whatever else works for your business.

Content Calendar Template

5. Marketing Budget Template

No matter how big or small your business, you need a clear marketing budget to make the most of your limited resources. But 1 in 5 small businesses don‘t allot any budget to marketing at all.

Marketing budgets don‘t have to be complicated. A basic marketing budget template will help you:

  • Identify your total marketing spend
  • Allocate your budget across different channels and tactics
  • Compare your spend to industry benchmarks
  • Adjust and optimize based on results

Start with a free template like:

Plug in your numbers, divvy up your total budget into categories like advertising, events, content creation, etc., and track your progress monthly.

As a general rule of thumb, newer small businesses should aim to allocate 12-20% of gross revenue on marketing, while more established businesses can stick to the 6-12% range. But remember, the most important thing is to spend efficiently and measure your ROI.

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Putting the Templates to Work

We‘ve covered a lot of ground with these 13 essential small business templates. But here‘s the thing – templates only work if you actually use them.

It‘s easy to download a bunch of templates and let them collect virtual dust. To get the most bang for your buck (well, they‘re free, but you get it), you need to actually incorporate these templates into your workflows and systems.

Schedule time on your calendar each week to update your P&L statement. Build out your content calendar at the start of each month or quarter. Onboard every new employee with your standard welcome packet.

The more you use these templates, the more efficient and streamlined your business operations will become. You‘ll start to see the time and headache savings compound.

But a word of caution – templates are meant to be a starting point, not an inflexible box. Feel free to customize and adapt them to your unique needs and brand. And if you find a template isn‘t quite working for your business, don‘t be afraid to scrap it and start fresh.

The key is to view these templates as tools in your entrepreneurial toolbox. They‘re there to support you, not constrain you.

Go Forth and Templatize

Running a small business is no cakewalk. But with the right tools and templates at your disposal, you can work smarter, not harder.

These 13 templates are a surefire way to:

  • Polish your image and impress your clients
  • Get a firm handle on your business finances
  • Create compelling marketing content consistently
  • Onboard and manage your team painlessly
  • Nail your pitch to investors and lenders

And the best part? You can get started with all of these templates today, for the low, low price of free. So what are you waiting for?

Pick one template from this list to implement this week. See how much time and effort it saves you, then keep building from there. Soon, you‘ll have a whole arsenal of templates powering your small business success.

For even more templates and tools, check out:

Here‘s to working smarter and freeing up your precious time as a small business owner. You‘ve got this!