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Writing a Business Plan - Part 1


Mustafa Dossajee on April 3, 2013 in Advice for Business Owners

Are you planning to write a Business Plan? Below you will find the subjects to address, the order in which they should be tackled and a short description of the subject matter to be included under each section.

Executive Summary

This section must appear at the beginning of your business plan but since it summarizes the basic components of your plan, you should write it last. Its objective is to deliver an overview of the plan and should contain:

  • your business type, plus the products or services you will provide
  • a mission statement
  • your market and customer base
  • marketing and sales plans
  • your anticipated competition
  • business operations and financial projections

Industry

Write this section in two segments: an industry overview and a summary of how you see your business inside that industry.

When writing your industry overview, address these matters: size of your industry, sectors included, major players, markets and customers, estimated sales in the industry for the last three years, economic trends and the industry's expected long-term outlook.

As for your company's position within the industry, first note the products or services you plan to sell and what you believe will be unique about your business to make it stand out from your competitors. Also note if you anticipate any barriers for your business and if so, how you plan to address them. Write about your competitors and their market share of the industry, what you see as your competitive advantage and your target market.

Market Analysis

This section should address your major target market and include location, target market demographics and if and how their needs are being met. When researching this section, make sure to answer these questions about the people in your target market: age and gender, where they live, family composition and income, their jobs and lifestyle and the size of your target market.

Research and write projections about your target market, including what percentage has used a product comparable to yours, how much of your product or service they are likely to buy, what percentage you expect to be repeat clients, if your market is affected by swings in demographics, economic events or government policies (e.g. by-laws).

When writing your market analysis, be sure to name all your sources of information.

Competitive Analysis

Investigate, analyze, and report on your direct or indirect competition. Include an appraisal of their competitive advantage and an examination of how you plan to overcome any obstacles as you enter your selected market. To begin, establish who you consider as your competitors. That is fairly easy as far as local companies are concerned. It's more difficult however, to determine range for a locally operated business (how far a customer is willing to travel for your type of product or service). Also, y ou must consider competition from businesses that aren't local – big box stores and online catalogue companies, for example. It is important to identify your competitors up front.

Collect as much information as possible on your competitors and use that data for competitive analysis. Competitors will often play it close to the vest when it comes to disclosing company information, so you may have to be creative to dig more deeply. What you need to ascertain is: the segments of the markets they serve, the kind of benefits they offer, and why customers are loyal to them. Learn as much as possible about their products and services, including prices and marketing/promotion. You can gather much of the information you need about your competitotrs from their websites. Also, talk to their clientele to learn what makes them successful.

Click here to read part 2 of "Writing a Business Plan"