The E-Commerce Column

The Ultimate Guide to writing an E-Commerce Business Plan

You need a plan that can grow with you and your business.

A business plan is an essential road map for business success. While it is important to create a business plan well before you start your business, it is important to know that your business plan will never be finished because you’re always revising, reviewing, and building upon it.

Do not convince yourself that writing a business plan is a chore.

It’s crucial to spend time thinking about how you plan to make a success of your e-commerce business, what your overall goal is, and what your product is, how you plan to stand out amongst competitors, and how you will market your products. Writing your business plan will force you to think about all of this.

Reasons you need to write a business plan.

  • Seeing the big picture will help you see holes in your thinking early on
  • Competitive analysis will force you to come up with new and creative ways to outgrow everyone else
  • To secure funding or attract investors
  • To develop a game plan
  • To make sure everyone is on the same page

This post includes all of the information needed to get you started on writing a business plan for e-commerce.

Executive Summary.

An executive summary will serve as the meat and potatoes of the overall business plan and include some banker number crunching. After reading the executive summary, your reader should know:

  • Who is part of the management team?
  • What are your financial projections?
  • What is your e-commerce product and how is it different?
  • What funding will you need?

Investors will make judgments based on your executive summary so make sure you are as detailed as possible without sounding too complicated.

Talk about your Business.

Explain the details of your business including the background and what made you originally think about opening this business. Some details you might want to include in this section:

  • What is the ownership and staff level of the business
  • How you plan to adapt your business to your customers’ needs as they change.
  • How your product will stand out amongst competitors.

Make sure you include some constraints – what could go wrong? It is important to include this but make sure you keep it simple, you don’t want investors to think your business is too high risk.

Competitive Landscape

Every business owner has to know what their competition is up to and how to stand out in the market. Ensure that you have done the research to justify the need for your product by learning more about the competitors that are the most and least successful. In this section you will want to answer the following questions:

  • What is the key demographic that you plan to target?
  • Explain the demographic in detail.
  • Explain it deeper (age, gender, occupation, interests)
  • If you have already sold some of your products, share the figures and explain who bought it and why.
  • The pros and cons of your competitors products and explain how yours are better.

Marketing Plan

It is important to have a strategy in place for how you will market your product both online and offline. You should also use this space to discuss the price of your product vs. your competitor prices. Discuss the following here:

  • Discuss your advertising channels (SEO, AdWords, Social Media, etc)
  • Will you have an affiliate marketing program?
  • E-mail marketing strategy

Discuss your operations

It is important to explain all of your assets and overhead in your business plan regardless of how small they seem. Some considerations may be:

  • Do you plan to sell on your own dedicated website or on a third party site like Amazon or Ebay?
  • Will you need a facility to store product? Telephones for customer service? A camera for product photos?
  • How long will your stock hold up?
  • How much staff will you be requiring? What is their cost? If there is currently none, predict the future.

Financial Planning

It is important to be realistic when discussing the financials of your business with useful factors in your forecast should be:

  • What will your income be per month?
  • Include your profit and loss forecast.
  • Discuss operations, sales revenue and wages and what factor they will have in your cash flow

Remember that financial predictions will change a lot so keep on top of it by updating it as factors change.

Before you send it out

Before you present your business plan, make sure that you have really jazzed it up. Here are some tips to ensure your business plan is ready:

  • Make sure it isn’t too lengthy. Be concise.
  • Make sure it is clean and organized and is professional.
  • Proof read it for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Show your plan to friends and expert advisers and ask for comments.

You’re ready

Writing a business plan is not easy but is you follow the above steps you will ensure your business has a chance at a successful future.

Anything we missed? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

About the Author

Will StrohlWill Strohl

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