You will never make your eCommerce business successful without having a clear plan. There are four reasons why everyone needs to write a business plan: to estimate resources, evaluate opportunities, get new knowledge, and build a roadmap.
If you have dozens of ideas on how to make your business profitable, don’t keep them in your head – put them down on paper. Check the following tips on how to write an outstanding business plan for an online store from scratch.
Structure is important
First of all, you should understand that a business plan is a formal document and it has a very clear structure. It should contain the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Product description
- Market analysis
- Marketing strategy
- Financial plan
Every part of the business plan is equally important. If your document will not contain at least one of these elements, it will be useless. So, let’s discuss what you should write about in every section.
An executive summary is a short overview of your business plan. This is a section, which you should write the last. Keep in mind that it shouldn’t exceed two pages.
This section should contain a mission statement, which explains the purpose of your eCommerce business and its impact on the world. Also, you should describe your objectives: the most ambitious goals, which you want to achieve in 5 years.
Here you should briefly present basic information about your online store. Try to cover the following topics:
- Ownership. List the names of the owners and founders of eCommerce business.
- Succinctly explain where and in which way your online store will operate.
- Need. Expound which need of your target audience your product will satisfy.
- Business model. First of all, you should mention whether your company is B2B or B2C. Secondly, you should write what kind of goods you sell (tangible or intangible). Thirdly, you should explain whether your company is a products’ manufacturer, official distributor, dropshipper, etc.
Now you need to write about your product and explain which features make it special:
- Manufacturing process. Explain where and how your products are manufactured and what kinds of materials are used in production.
- Describe how your product and its packaging look like. Does its design differ from other items available in the market?
- Pricing. You should make it clear whether you offer low-cost or luxury items.
This is one of the most important sections of your business plan. You should write about the current situation in your niche and how it influences your eCommerce business.
- Target audience. Describe your ideal buyer. Specify his age, gender, social status, level of income, preferences, online shopping habits and behavior.
- Industry. Define the market size as well as a stage of the industry life cycle. Write about the current trends and opportunities for growth.
- Competitors. Identify your major competitors and point out their major strengths and weaknesses. You should analyze rivals’ marketing strategies and pay attention to their approaches to SEO, social media, paid ads, etc.
If you want to make your online store profitable, you should build an outstanding marketing strategy using different instruments.
- Content strategy and SEO. What kind of content will you post on your website: blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, photos? Will you hire an in-house content creator or will utilize the best copywriting services?
- Social media. Which of the popular social networks are the most important for your business? You should build a plan on how to boost engagement and reach on different platforms.
- PR. Will you cooperate with the digital influencers? Will you promote your online store via niche blogs? Make a list of bloggers in your niche, which can help you to grab the attention of your target audience.
In this section, you should draw a real picture of how your online store will operate. It’s time to calculate your monthly operational costs and projected profit.
- Will you work from home or rent an office in a business center? Will you utilize warehouse services to store your products? Answer these questions and estimate how much it will cost you.
- Labor cost. How many people will you hire to run your online store? You should describe your dream team and set the payment rate. Don’t forget to mention how many hours your employees will work per week.
- Website maintenance. Calculate web hosting fees and other related monthly payments.
- Marketing expenses. You should set your marketing budget and decide how much you will spend on SEO, link building, the paid ad, influencer campaign, etc.
- Projected profit. This part of the business plan is a cherry on the cake. You should calculate an amount of the fixed and variable expenses as well as potential revenue for 5 years. Now you can find out how much profit your eCommerce business will bring you.
While writing an eCommerce business plan, you will analyze your strategy in more details. You will be able to define all the threats and opportunities, which your industry hides.
As a result, you will come up with fresh ideas on how to improve your strategy and achieve success. There is no room for a doubt that business plan development is worth your time and efforts.
Authored by Daniela McVicker