This will keep you organized and keep you on track when structuring your business. HubSpot's template provides clear steps to structuring one for your ecommerce business. An executive summary is a one-to-two page overview of your business. The purpose of an executive summary is to let stakeholders know what the business plan will contain.
HubSpot's free template offers some tips on how to write one as I've done below:. This is the section that needs the most detail because it highlights what you're selling. To begin, provide an overview of your product or service. For instance, a photography company would probably list their photo packages arranged by price and services, like I did below:. HubSpot's template also provides direction on how to describe the purpose of your company and break down values.
It also advises businesses to include team structure, if applicable. Below that, you should go into detail about your product and service lines. For the market analysis, provide the operational climate of the industry you're in. To illustrate, at this step, the photography company would need to analyze their position in a world of rival companies like Adobe or online services like Canva.
Below, I've done a quick competitor analysis, available in the template:. Download This Template. Using directions in the template as a guide, I was able to come up with more selling points of the company and how it stands out from competitors. Filling out the market analysis section of the business plan assists with providing the framework of future campaigns. You are able to define your target market and ideal customer. Refer to my example below for how to structure this analysis in your ecommerce plan.
A good market analysis includes your target audience, projections of your company's goals, and a breakdown of the competition's goals and weaknesses for a counterpoint of how your business improves upon those weaknesses. For a complete guide on how to create a market analysis, we have one here. In the next two sections of your business plan, describe legal and financial structures. The photography company should provide detail on the legal considerations like online safety rules and e-commerce regulations.
Further, the costs of the company. Listing legality and every cost needed to start e-commerce is crucial information for investors and stakeholders. In this section, it's important to be honest and thorough in order to give partners a realistic idea of how to contribute. Follow these steps and create a strong foundation for your eCommerce business. An extra tip to keep in mind? Provide a table of contents and appendix. These few additions will boost the professional look of your business plan and make it presentation-friendly.
For more information about e-commerce, check out our ultimate guide. Originally published Nov 21, AM, updated March 10 Logo - Full Color. Contact Sales. Overview of all products. Marketing Hub Marketing automation software. Service Hub Customer service software. CMS Hub Content management system software. App Marketplace Connect your favorite apps to HubSpot.
Why HubSpot? Marketing Sales Service Website. Subscribe to Our Blog Stay up to date with the latest marketing, sales, and service tips and news. Thank You! You have been subscribed. Start free or get a demo. Marketing 6 min read. Ecommerce companies sell three different types of products: goods, services, and digital products. You need to tell your readers what you intend to sell and why. If you plan to sell digital products, be clear about what they are and how customers gain access to them.
Will consumers download software, music, or educational videos from your site? Will you offer a streaming service? What about licensing requirements? Are you strictly local? Do you travel long distances? Will you partner with similar services providers in other areas? Do you plan to expand your service-based company across the country at some point?
Many ecommerce businesses sell their products directly to consumers. Are you trying to sell galvanized water troughs to dairy farmers or handmade French hair clips to fashionistas? Some online retailers and service providers operate a business-to-business B2B model. Manufacturers who sell raw ingredients to food corporations or components to electronics companies fall into this category.
What are they looking for when they visit your site? Are they practical and frugal, or do they have disposable income to spare? Do they want to buy plastic pellets in bulk, or do they want to invest in art? Some ecommerce companies manufacture their products in-house. Perhaps you make bespoke furniture or fishing rods; maybe you create iPhone apps or accounting software. Most ecommerce retailers depend on a supply chain of some kind, though.
LARQ , for example, came up with a water bottle prototype and used crowdfunding money to order its first production run. If you plan to use a third-party manufacturer, try to develop a good working relationship well in advance of your launch date. All business plans are a little different, but most contain seven key elements. Perfect for time-limited reviewers, an executive summary refines your business idea into a clear and persuasive one-page outline.
Your executive summary belongs near the beginning of your business plan — but you might want to bookmark this how-to and read it again later. Again, why? Candy Inc. Provide a brief summary of what your company does. Make it compelling and easy to digest. Are you a B2B business or a B2C business? Do you sell products or services? What industry is your business in? We sell bulk quantities of high-quality American-made candy to other businesses. Write about your vision for your company.
What do you want to accomplish? Why are you better than the competition? The products we sell are made in the USA by family-run businesses with decades of traditional candy-making experience. We want to support these homespun chocolatiers and confectioners by forming partnerships with as many American and international candy stores as possible. Provide a short but information-packed overview of the products you sell. Our product selection includes a range of naturally flavored taffy, hard candies infused with lavender, mint, and lemon verbena and chocolates made by intergenerational artisans in the Midwest.
We also offer candy personalization services, including corporate packaging. Write about your target audience here. If you plan to market your products to a range of different consumers, tell your readers who they are. Our main clients are small- and medium-sized privately-owned candy stores across North America. We also sell limited-edition candy to department stores and large retail corporations, like Target, who capitalize on niche markets during the holiday season.
Finally, we offer candy packaging services for large-scale corporate events. If you have a physical store as well as a website, mention it here. The Candy Inc. We use SEO marketing techniques to improve search engine ranking, and we run banner ads on food service and grocery wholesaler sites to draw attention to our company. Offer a concise summary of your monetization strategy here.
Will you work with wholesale companies? Will you form partnerships with influencers, or will you go with affiliate or email marketing? Will you produce private or white label goods? We work with other, smaller candy wholesalers and form partnerships with wholesale-centric social media influencers.
Now you need to provide readers with a comprehensive overview of your business. This part of your business plan is succinct but vital. Start with a concise opening paragraph, and then dive into the following topics:. List your main brand name or your business name and its associated brand names. Write about the legal structure of your company here.
Keep it as short as possible, and make sure it includes your brand name for SEO purposes. Your mission statement is part of your branding strategy. In one or two sentences, it has to convey why you are in business at all. What drives you? Why did you come up with this business idea in the first place? So drink brilliantly. Tell your readers all about your overarching business-related dreams. Where do you want to take your company? How will you get there? How can your customers travel with you?
Everyone loves an autobiography. This is your chance to provide one for your business. When did you first come up with your idea? How has your business grown and changed since then? If you have any kind of rags-to-riches story, write it here — but keep it short.
Mention all the major players in your company here. Here are a few examples:. To win in the ecommerce world, you have to know your target market. To create sales projections, you have to estimate a baseline level of interest for your product or service. Astronomical profits are fun to imagine, but you need solid independent data, and not fantasy, to come up with a legitimate set of KPIs.
Make sure you know as much as possible about the following two factors:. Conduct a SWOT analysis of your company: To succeed, you have to tackle issues before they undermine your operation. SWOT analyses examine the strengths , weaknesses , opportunities , and threats.
Conducting a competitive analysis can help you get ahead of the crowd. First, try to pinpoint the market leaders in your industry; then, identify your direct and indirect competitors. Pick a few real contenders and do some in-depth market research to find out what makes each one tick. Do they have the potential for improvement? Are there gaps in the market that you can fill? Can you provide better products or services than your competitors? Once you know what your rivals have to offer, you can position your company as a better alternative.
There are three main ways to do this:. You gave a brief overview of your products or services in your executive summary. If you peddle a niche product or service, go into detail about it; if you sell a range of items or provide a number of different services, highlight general features and benefits quality, price, uniqueness, etc.
Make your products and services section easy to digest: keep paragraphs short, stick to nontechnical language, and use bullets to showcase product characteristics. If you have testimonials from pre launch product testers, include them in this part of your business plan.
Now you have to drive traffic to your ecommerce site and convince visitors to buy your products. In short, you need an effective marketing plan. First, you need to determine your marketing campaign budget. Where does Mrs. Jones look for inspiration? Where does she shop right now?
You need to find Mrs. Jones and show her your fabulous product. Not sure where to begin? First popularized in the s, the 4 Ps concept still works in the era of ecommerce. That said, most modern marketing gurus add three more Ps to create an extended 7 Ps marketing mix :. Exceptional marketing strategies drive positive conversion rates. The question is, which channels match your consumer demographic?
Do your potential customers hang out on Instagram, or do they prefer reading WikiHow articles? Step one: figure out where your future clients are now. Step two: create attention-grabbing marketing strategies and plunk them in front of your consumer base. Most companies use paid marketing channels to some extent because they produce measurable results relatively quickly. Examples include:. Organic marketing channels drive traffic to your website over a longer period of time.
Organic marketing tactics help build your brand name. What do you physically need to run your ecommerce company? The logistics and operations section of your business plan covers everything from tech requirements computers, printers, cameras to warehousing. Writing this segment of your plan will help you understand the realities of running an ecommerce company. Your logistics and operations plan should cover the following:. Nearly all businesses need a certain amount of capital to get going.
Some entrepreneurs come up with their own start-up costs, while others form alliances with wealthier partners. Still, others look for angel investors, create crowdfunding campaigns, or take out business loans.
Before you begin writing your financial plan, think about your audience and goals. Will you take your plan to your bank management team? Will you show your plan to a series of potential investors? Would it be prudent to include financial projections?
Maybe you just want to get a handle on cash flow or calculate return on investment ROI potential. Most financial plans include the following three economic analyses:. Your income statement provides a breakdown of your revenue sources and expenses over a specific time period — a month, a quarter, or a year. Entrepreneurs use balance sheets to calculate how much equity they have in their businesses.
All your assets machinery, stock, business premises, vehicles, etc go in a column on the left; your liabilities accounts and wages payable, business loan repayment, business credit card payments, taxes, etc go in a column on the right. Cash-flow statements are like real-time income statements.
Instead of listing expenses and revenue per quarter or per annum, cash-flow statements indicate when expenses and revenue go out and come in. If you have more money coming in than going out, you have positive cash flow; if you have more money going out than coming in, you have negative cash flow. If you forecast cash flow, you may be able to adjust the way you do business to keep your company solvent.
A stellar ecommerce business plan provides a solid foundation for success. All that extra knowledge will empower you as you begin your entrepreneurial journey. Go ahead and pick up that pen. You can do this. Sign up for our weekly newsletter. Table of Contents. What is an Ecommerce Business Plan? As you create your business plan, you will: 1. Gain a deeper understanding of your business. As you write, try to answer the following questions: Do you plan to sell physical products, digital products, or services?
Who is your customer? Will you need an external site, or can you work from home? Identify resources needed to run your business. Financial Resources Most small business owners start with relatively limited funds and build capital as they progress. A partner of financial means. An angel investor. A Kickstarter or similar crowdfunding campaign. Human Resources Some entrepreneurs prefer to work alone, while others form partnerships. Build a road map for the future. Evaluate what your competitors are doing.
Spot opportunities. Who Needs an Ecommerce Business Plan? You need a business plan to help you: Set clear goals. Create a strategy for success. You are seeking investors. You need a business plan to help you: Convince investors that your business is a good bet, or.
Create an effective crowdfunding campaign. You need a business plan to help you: Get a major business loan from your bank. Determine KPIs, milestones, and partnership opportunities. What are you selling? Who is your target customer? How are you sourcing your products? Other product-sourcing options include: Dropshipping: Partner with a dropshipping service; products are made off-site and shipped out for you.
Wholesale: Buy a large number of products at once, store them on-site, and ship them out when orders come in.
Our target customer will look toward alternative clothing trends in large urban areas as their inspiration. FireStarters will exclusively advertise in small communities with populations between , and , residents.
Communities of this size already have small youth-oriented businesses, like skateboard shops and alternative CD stores, that FireStarters can utilize to promote its product line. The mission of FireStarters is to offer distinctive youth-oriented fashion and products to small-town America. Your business plan can look as polished and professional as this sample plan.
It's fast and easy, with LivePlan. Don't bother with copy and paste. Get this complete sample business plan as a free text document. Download for free. FireStarters Executive Summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. This section of your business plan should answer two fundamental questions: who are you, and what do you plan to do?
This is where you start getting to the core of why your business exists, what you hope to accomplish, and what you stand for. To define your values, think about all the people your company is accountable to, including owners, employees, suppliers, customers, and investors. As you make a list, your core values should start to emerge. Once you know your values, you can pen a mission statement.
Your statement should explain, in a convincing manner, why your business exists, and should be no longer than a single sentence. Your vision statement, unlike your mission statement, can be longer than a single sentence, but try to keep it to three at most. The best vision statements are concise. Finally, your company overview should include both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals, generally, should be achievable within the next year, while one to five years is a good window for long-term goals.
Make sure all your goals are S. If you choose the wrong market, or the right market at the wrong time, you may find yourself struggling for each sale. This is why market research and analysis is a key section of your business plan, whether or not you ever intend for anyone else to read it. Thorough research supporting your conclusions is important both to persuade investors and to validate your own assumptions as you work through your plan. The potential market is an estimate of how many people need your product.
Since this can be a daunting process, here are some general tips to help you begin your research:. Some sources to consult for market data include government statistics offices, industry associations, academic research, and respected news outlets covering your industry.
A SWOT analysis looks at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed?
These breakdowns often are presented as a grid, with bullet points in each section breaking down the most relevant information—so you can probably skip writing full paragraphs here. Strengths and weaknesses—both internal company factors—are listed first, with opportunities and threats following in the next row. With this visual presentation, your reader can quickly see the factors that may impact your business and determine your competitive advantage in the market. Use this free PDF to future-proof your business by identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
There are three overarching factors you can use to differentiate your business in the face of competition:. Consider what your potential customers are doing to solve the same problems your product solves. Detail the legal structure of your business. Communicate how each person will contribute to the success of your startup.
If you sell many items, you can include more general information on each of your product lines; if you only sell a few, provide additional information on each. Excited about starting a business, but not sure where to start?
This free, comprehensive guide will teach you how to find great, newly trending products with high sales potential. Your ideal customer, also known as your target market, is the foundation of your marketing plan, if not your business plan as a whole. To give a holistic overview of your ideal customer, describe a number of general and specific demographic characteristics. Customer segmentation often includes:.
For example, a college student has different interests, shopping habits, and pricing sensitivity than a year old executive at a Fortune company. Your business plan and decisions would look very different based on which one was your ideal customer.
Your marketing efforts are directly informed by your ideal customer. Your plan should outline your current decisions and your future strategy, with a focus on how your ideas are a fit for that ideal customer. Most marketing plans include information on four key subjects.
Promotion may be the bulk of your plan since you can more readily dive into tactical details, but the other three areas should be covered at least briefly—each is an important strategic lever in your marketing mix. If your reader is you, it should give you a basis to make other important decisions, like how to price your products to cover your estimated costs, and at what point you plan to break even on your initial spending.
No matter how great your idea is, and regardless of the effort, time, and money you invest, a business lives or dies based on its financial health. At the end of the day, people want to work with a business they expect to be viable for the foreseeable future. It also may be appropriate to include financial projections. You can edit it to reflect projections if needed. Your income statement is designed to give readers a look at your revenue sources and expenses over a given time period.
With those two pieces of information, they can see the all-important bottom line or the profit or loss your business experienced during that time. Your balance sheet offers a look at how much equity you have in your business. On one side, you list all your business assets what you own , and on the other side, all your liabilities what you owe.
Your cash flow statement is similar to your income statement, with one important difference: it takes into account when revenues are collected and when expenses are paid. When the cash you have coming in is greater than the cash you have going out, your cash flow is positive. When the opposite scenario is true, your cash flow is negative. Ideally, your cash flow statement will help you see when cash is low, when you might have a surplus, and where you might need to have a contingency plan to access funding to keep your business solvent.
It can be especially helpful to forecast your cash-flow statement to identify gaps or negative cash flow and adjust operations as required. Download your copy of all three templates to build out these financial statements for your business plan.