Tips For Writing A Business Plan in 2021 & Examples To Keep You Inspired
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In today's article, we are going to discuss the factors one must prioritise before beginning the process of starting an eCommerce store (or any store for that matter). To guide us on this matter is the author of this article, Alexandra Sheehan. She has worked with retailers, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to Etsy shop owners, and is always looking for innovative ways to help her clients. She is also a Shopify Expert, and always provides incredible value in her recommendations. This is the main reason we asked Alexandra for her assistance. Let's get started!
Any aspiring entrepreneur researching how to start a business will likely be advised to write a business plan. However, very few resources provide business plan templates and relatable examples to truly help guide them through the process of writing one of their own.
This is why we took some real-world and hypothetical examples of product-based ecommerce businesses to show you how you can write your business plan.
The business plan examples we’ll look at below follow this example template:
Below, we have some real-world and hypothetical examples of each of these sections to show you how a business plan comes together.
Your executive summary is a page that gives a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. It’s easiest to save this section for last.
In Alexandra's business plan template for Paw Print Post, the executive summary is four paragraphs and takes a little over half a page:
You might repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your 'about' page, social media profile pages, or other platforms that require a boilerplate description of your business.
Soap brand ORRIS has a blurb on its 'about page' that could easily be repurposed for the company description section of its business plan:
You can also go more in-depth with your company overview and include the following sections (as we did for the Paw Print Post):
The market analysis provides information about supply & demand, your target market, industry trends, and the competitive landscape. You might run a SWOT analysis and attach that in your business plan. Here is an example SWOT analysis done for an online tailored-shirt business:
You would also want to perform a competitive analysis as part of the market research section of your business plan. This will tell you who you’re up against and allow you to consider approaches that will give you a competitive advantage. Your competitive analysis may look a bit like this:
This section of your business plan describes your offerings—which products and services do you sell to your customers? Here’s an example of a post from Paw Print:
It’s always a good idea to develop a marketing plan before you launch your business. Your marketing plan shows how you’ll get the word out about your business, and it’s an essential component of your business plan too.
For Paw Print, there was a focus on 'four Ps': Price, product, promotion, and place. However, you can take a different approach with your marketing plan. Perhaps, you can select from your existing marketing strategy, or maybe you will decide to break it down through the different marketing channels. Whatever approach you decide on, your marketing plan should describe how you intend to promote your business and its offerings to potential customers. It’s OKAY to go high-level here.
The financial plan provides a breakdown of sales, revenue, profit, expenses as well as other relevant financial metrics related to funding and profiting from their business.
Ecommerce brand, Nature's Candy, broke down predicted revenue, expenses and net profit in a graphical format:
They then focused further on their financials to include:
You can use this financial plan template to build your own income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement.
A one-page business plan is meant to be high level and easy to understand at a glance. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re truncated and summarised accordingly:
A startup business plan is required for any new business. Typically, these plans are developed and shared to secure outside funding. As such, there’s a bigger focus on the financials as well as on any other sections that determine the viability of the business idea— market research, is important, for example. A startup business plan would include:
Your internal business plan is meant to keep your team on the same page and aligned toward the same goal and objectives. It would include the following:
A strategic (or 'growth') business plan shows the bigger picture. This depicts a more-long-term look at your business. As such, the forecasts tend to look further into the future, and subsequently, growth and revenue goals may be higher. Essentially, you want to use all the sections you would in a normal business plan and build upon each:
Your feasibility business plan can be seen as a pre-business plan—many refer to it as a 'feasibility study'. This plan essentially lays the groundwork and validates that it’s worth the effort to make a full business plan for your idea. As such, it’s mostly centered around research:
Building a business plan serves as a roadmap you can use for your ecommerce business at launch as well as the journey to reaching each of your established growth goals. Business plans create accountability for entrepreneurs and synergy among teams, regardless of your business model.
Kickstart your ecommerce business and set yourself up for success with intentional business planning- begin by using the business plan examples highlighed in order to naviage your unique path.
To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify.
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