According to a Wells Fargo survey, small businesses with plans have brighter future outlook. National survey shows only one in three business owners has a formal business plan. Wells Fargo launches new, free business planning resources and tools to help every business create a plan for success as part of Wells Fargo Works for Small Business.

In a recent national survey, only 33 percent of business owners said they have a formal business plan, yet those with a plan also have significantly higher expectations for the year ahead than those without. These results were among survey findings pointing to the value of business plans as Wells Fargo introduces “The Business Plan Center,” a new “Wells Fargo Works for Small Business” offering that provides online tools to help business owners create and update their own business plans.

In the January Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey, business owners who said they had a formal, written plan reported much greater optimism for 2015 – their future outlook score (+51) was 12 points higher than business owners without a plan (+39) and 8 points higher than business owners overall (+43). Further, those business owners with plans compared to those without were more likely to report that in the next 12 months they expect to:

  • Increase jobs at their businesses (32 percent of business owners with plans versus 19 percent of business owners without plans).
  • Grow revenues (62 percent versus 51 percent)
  • Increase capital spending (39 percent versus 28 percent)
  • Apply for new credit (26 percent versus 14 percent).

In an effort to provide business owners with a simple, convenient way to create or revise business plans, Wells Fargo has launched The Business Plan Center, a free, online resource now available on The Center features the Business Plan Tool, a step-by-step guide to develop a written business plan. It also offers a Competitive Intelligence Tool, which provides business owners with key insight on competitors and the market for their businesses that can be used as part of the planning process. Other interactive learning resources on the new Center include videos, articles and infographics covering essential elements of a business plan.

“Every business – big or small – needs a plan. We know from research and our direct experience working with business owners that a formal, written business plan is the foundation for long-term financial success,” said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo’s head of Small Business.  “Many business owners have business plans in their heads. We want to help every business owner put a plan in writing, if they don’t have one already, so they have a guide to organize their goals, improve decision-making and focus on activities that will help their business thrive.”

The new Business Plan Tool will enable business owners to develop and update written plans that include a high-level summary of the business; an overview of business history, structure and management, and its current and planned products and services; a detailed marketing plan; and market and competitive analyses. It also will allow business owners to enter financial data – such as starting balances, fixed assets and liabilities, sales forecasts and expenses. The tool will generate financial statements, such as a detailed cash flow statement, profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet.

(Photo: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)

(Photo: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)

Wells Fargo is also announcing other initiatives to expand the support it offers small business owners through Wells Fargo Works for Small Business. These include:

  • Wells Fargo Works Project National Contest. For the second year, Wells Fargo is inviting eligible business owners to enter a nationwide contest to win $25,000 and a business mentorship opportunity. To enter, business owners must submit a 2½-minute video or 600-word essay with a photo responding to questions about their business. Twenty-five finalists will be selected to each receive $1,000 for their business. Five grand prizewinners will be selected from the 25 finalists to receive $25,000 each for their business. The contest runs from May 1 through June 30, and winners will be announced in September. View webisodes from last year’s finalists to see how they’ve taken their business to the next level since participating in the contest.
  • New and enhanced content on The online learning resource features videos, articles and infographics on the importance of creating and updating business plans, as well as offer useful tips on how to approach building a plan. Later in the year, webinars will be available, focusing on the key components of a business plan, such as marketing, legal and finance. The expanded site includes hundreds of informational articles and videos, featuring financial guidance from small business experts.
  • Small Business appreciation offers. Through the end of June, Wells Fargo will conduct its annual Small Business appreciation celebration. The event celebrates the accomplishments of small businesses and provides business owners with time- and money-saving offers on several products and services, including Wells Fargo’s Business Platinum Credit Card with Rewards, and Merchant Services and Business Payroll Services products.

Introduced in 2014, Wells Fargo Works for Small Business is a broad initiative to deliver resources, guidance and services to help more small businesses achieve financial success. It provides wide-ranging support for business owners throughout the U.S. to help them build knowledge, access capital and expand their community of support. Wells Fargo Works for Small Business encompasses the company’s commitment to helping small businesses take the next step toward their goals.

For more information about Wells Fargo Works for Small Business, visit: and follow us on Twitter @WellsFargoWorks.