A business plan can become quite a large document. Filled with as much information about possible, about your business, your business plan will work as a guide to how to get your business up and running.
This article is the last in a two part series which explains what you should include in your business plan. If you’ve not read the first part you can view the article “Part 1 – What should I include in my business plan?‘ by clicking the title.
This section of your business plan includes information about the industry you’re business is. The industry section gives a general overview of the trends, changes and developments of the industry. Its important that you know how the industry is developing or not so that you can anticipate change or even fill a gap in the market.
Every new and established business has competition. This is the chance for you to identify them and then looking at what they offer in comparison to your business. Its a good basis for the SWAT (Strength Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis which is the following section.
The SWOT is an opportunity to identify what your Strengths and Weaknesses are but also which Opportunities and Threats you may encounter. The idea is not so much to provide a solution to your threats, but rather to be away of them. Prevention is better than cure, so remember this!
Marketing & Communication
The marketing and communications section of the business plan is slightly different to the promotional section. Promotions can be seasonal activities you use to boost business, for example holiday sales, Christmas and national holidays could be an interesting time to do extra promotion. Marketing and Communications is much broader. Here you need to explain which marketing outlets, tools and platforms you will include as a structural part of your business. It can include anything from social media to advertising depending on your target group and budget. Think about what you will do and how you are going to do this and write it down in this section.
Include key messaging and a well defined target group also.
In the online business we see more and more business using a freemium model. The freemium model is where you give a section of your product or service away for free. The services you give away are often limited. For example, if you’re a designer, you may choose to give away a standard design for a business card. There are limitations on usage of course. The design cannot be modified with a few exceptions. The idea behind the freemium model in the card example would be that customers can come to you for extra design work or to modify the design. When a client decided to do this, you then charge a extra price or introduce a premium service. The freemium model is often used for online businesses because it can be a costly endeavor for non-online businesses. We do however see the freemium model being used for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies that give away free product samples.
In the pricing policy, such examples as freemium and premium prices should be explained. The underlying question in this section is: How will you price your product in a way that attracts customers or clients?
Whatever your line of business, you product or service needs to be delivered. How will you do this is the question here and what means will you use to get your product or service into the hands of your customers.
Whether you work together or alone, an organisational structure needs to be defined. This is an opportunity for you to think both short and long term. How does your organisation look now? Who do you work with, if any? You should also look at the future and what you may need if you suddenly need to expand. Will you find a partner or will you use contractors? Take your time thinking about what your business needs to grow from a one-man bad to something bigger.
If you’ve come this far, them you’ll be glad to get to this section. Its good to think about finances, how much you think you can earn and what your costs are. Be careful not to under-estimate your costs. Includes insurances as well as general things like office space, travel costs and telephone bills.
The business case is the financial backbone of your business. Its an month-by-month overview of what you expect to earn over a 3 year period. Take a look at ‘Part 1 – What should I include in my business plan?‘ and you will find an interesting section explaining the business case itself.
Investors (if applicable)
If you’ve an established business on the point of growth then you may already have investors. These can be friends or family members that have invested time or money in the past and together you may be looking for extra financial support for new growth. In this section, potential investors will want to know who is currently involved in your business and what they bring to the company in terms of experience but also finance.
Quote your sources! Your business plan should include links to reference you may have included within the plan. Don’t forget to add these references. They show that you’ve done your home work and act as a support to your plan over all.
We’ve come to the end of this 2 part series on what you should include in your business plan. Please leave a comment or ask questions below and we’ll try to answer and help in whichever way we can!