The Business Plan is the road map for operating one’s business. The business plan is made up of a set of objectives and goals to implement so that you can start and operate a business. The Business Plan can be used as a management tool to measure your progress once the business is started.
The main components of the Business Plan are:
- Description of your business.
- The Marketing Plan.
- The Management Plan.
- The Financial Management Plan.
The most important sections of the business plan to complete first are the mission statement, values statement, and goals for the business. The second most important part of the business plan to complete is the Marketing Plan.
The Marketing Plan answers the following questions concerning your “potential” business:
- Is the business idea feasible or realistic?
- What is the particular product or service your business will be offering?
- What are the industry trends in your field of business?
- Who are your competitors and what sets you apart from these competitors?
- Who is your targeted customer?
- How will you promote and advertise your products and services to get new customers?
The most important thing to know regarding the Marketing Plan section, of the Business Plan, is your “target market”. Your “target market” are the individuals and businesses who have a need for you products and services, and are willing to buy those products and services. The Marketing Plan will give the reader a brief description of your business’ products and services you provide, and how you will get them to your targeted customers. The Marketing Plan will show how, despite the growing market and competition, you can sell your products or services. The Plan will also provide a general description of your ideal customer (target market) and the customers’ buying habits. The Marketing Plan should include your strategies for pricing, selling, and customer service. This section of the business plan will outline the research you have conducted in your business field to show that you have a clear understanding of your competitors and the industry.
The first section of the Marketing Plan is the description of the products and services offered by your business to your targeted market. In this section, you have to describe the products and services in great detail. You have to provide the potential customer with as much information as possible regarding the products and services your business offers. You have to include details describing the uniqueness of your product and services. It is good to give details about any special benefits or features of the product or service that your ideal customer may love. The “special feature” of the product or service is defined as something that differentiates your product or service from the competition. The “benefit” of the product or service is defined as what the customer will gain from buying your product or service.
The next section of the Marketing Plan is the description of the Industry Trends in your business field. You will let the reader of the business plan know that you have a have clear understanding of your business industry and what trends will affect and impact your business. This section of the Marketing Plan is also known as the market research or industry analysis section. This Marketing Plan section is essential to the whole Business Plan because the research conducted here will give you additional support and proof that you can start the business because it describes certain strategic opportunities your business can benefit from.
In the Industry Trends section of the Marketing Plan, you will give a description of the economic sector your business falls under. The four general economic sectors are as follows:
- Distribution; and
Next the Industry Trends section, will give the industry classification of your business. You typically place your industry classification under the NAICS codes which stand for North American Industry Classification System. Also, you will give a brief description of the life cycle of your business in this section. The business industries normally have four life cycles:
- New Industries;
- Stable; and
Also, the Industry Trends will give a brief description of how similar businesses as yours are faring during different business’ seasons. Many businesses are always greatly affected by the seasonality because in some seasons they do well and in others they do poorly. With this seasonality analysis, you can determine which seasons to sell certain products or services; how the changes in seasons will affect or impact your business; and what to do during each different season concerning the selling of your products and services.
Here are the main seasons you need to consider concerning your business:
- Fall; and
- Other like Tax Season (April 15)
With the Industry Trends section of Marketing Plan, you have to look at the economic cycles that will impact your business and your industry. You have to determine how certain conditions will affect and impact the sale of your products and services to your ideal customers. Here are some major economic conditions that can affect and impact your business:
- Growing unemployment;
- Expanding economy;
- Low consumer confidence;
- Low interest rates;
- High interest rates;
- High inflation or rising prices; and
- Weak dollar values in Overseas Markets.
With the Marketing Plan section of the Business Plan, it helps you determine whether or not your business idea is feasible. It gives you a general description of your business industry, your competition, and the industry trends in your business field. The Marketing Plan should be evaluated either once a year or twice a year because your products and services will always be changing and developing into something different and new. The Marketing Plan should always be revised so that you can always have a general understanding of what is popular in your industry and what is not popular.
In the next article in the “How to Write a Good Business Plan” series, we will discuss the following additional sections of the Marketing Plan: target market (target customers); marketing research; and competitor analysis.
Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. Donya is also a public speaker and aspiring author. She has a few books in the works that will be published and released in the latter part of 2015. The books will focus on entrepreneurship, small business, and daily devotionals. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting (FACMBC) based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Services provided by FACMBC: Mediation and Conflict Resolution Services; Business Registration Assistance (Limited Liability Company, Corporation, S-Corp, Limited Liability Partnership, etc.); Business Plan Drafting Assistance; Business Certification Assistance (MBE, WOSB, 8A, 501(c) (3), Hub Zone, etc.); and Business Organization Assistance. She is also a contributing writer to the Maryland Daily Examiner Newspaper. Donya Zimmerman has made article contributions to the Simply Inspirational Women in Business Journal for 2014 published by Dr. Cheryl Cottle. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.facebook.com/FACMBC; www.twitter.com/FACMBC; https://dzimmerman36.wordpress.com; http://www.linkedin.com/in/dzbusconsultantandmediator