Chapter 1

Business Plan

With any business, the key to success is planning

This first chapter of the Web Rocket is designed to help you take a step back and look at your business in a decisive, informative and purposeful way.

We will help you produce a comprehensive business plan, demonstrating a full and fluent understanding of your goals and objectives.

You will learn how to conduct valuable competitor research, audience and industry analysis, and how to effectively monitor your progress.

In the business plan chapter, you will;

  • Understand what a business plan is and its purpose
  • Write an effective company overview
  • Establish business goals and objectives
  • Understand and decide key performance indicators
  • Identify and understand your target audience
  • Conduct competitor research
  • Perform industry analysis

 

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What is a business plan?

A business plan is a descriptive, strategic document which communicates the core mission, goals, and objectives of your business and details how you aim to achieve them. It encapsulates key research pertaining to your target market, key competitors and financial projections.

Your business plan is a written roadmap detailing your operational, financial and marketing strategies.

A business plan is equally important for existing businesses as it is for new start-ups. Every company should have one, and it should be reviewed periodically to monitor the achievement of goals and any adaptations required.

 

Why do I need a business plan?

A business plan provides you with a focused point of reference for your company strategy and progression in the long-term. It keeps business owners on the same page, and enables your key company decision makers to evaluate the direction of the business over time. It will also assist you in forecasting business demands, potential challenges and changes within your industry in the future.

This critical document is also a key tool in securing investment or funding, communicating to potential parties the status, direction, and forecast of your business.

 

What should I include in my business plan?

A well-written business plan should be tailored to purpose.

Depending on if it is being used as an internal strategy guide or to secure start-up or growth funding, there may be differences in how you construct your document.

In this guide, we will take you through the most common sections to include in your business plan.

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Step 1 - Business Details & Executive Summary

Introduce your business in brief

The first page of your business plan should offer a quick glance at your business to gain the attention of the reader in a perfectly summarised view. It should be short, snappy, informative, and encourage the reader to continue. Particularly if your business plan is for the purpose of securing investment, you will need to engage the potential party from the get-go.

Whilst this is the first page of your document, it is often beneficial to write this page last. Through creating the rest of your document, you will get an idea for the critical points you'll want to include and get a better feel for what you want to communicate initially. Having said that, let's just take a look and be aware of what we should keep in mind.

A great first page to your business plan should include 3 key sets of information.

  • Business plan title & subtitle
  • Executive Summary
  • Basic business details & key company team members

 

Business plan title & subtitle

Quite simply, from the first line you are making it clear that this document, is indeed a business plan. But you should also include a short, catchy subtitle that personifies your business.

This should be something that tells the story of your business and communicates your mission, in the space of a simple sentence.

 

Executive Summary

This section should encapsulate the core of your business plan. It is the synopsis that often decides if the reader will continue or not. It should include your business mission, ethos, values and long term goals.

The executive summary is setting the stage for your business plan and communicating, in brief, what you are aiming to achieve. It should be formatted as a summarised view of each section of the business plan.

You'll be writing this last, once you have all of your information thoroughly detailed in your complete document.

 

Business details & team

Include the core information about your business, such as, company name, contact information and location. As the business owner, if you are applying for funding or investment, you may want to include a summary about you, your background and experience.

You should also include a breakdown of the key team members within the company and a brief summary of their roles.

Step 2 - Writing your Company Overview

How to write your company overview and identify the business opportunity

This next section delves deeper into your company and what you are looking to achieve. You will need to introduce people to your business and demonstrate the business opportunity that you are looking to address.

 

Company Overview

Your company overview is a key piece of content that will be used for multiple purposes, both promotional and in-house. It should be short, concise, and descriptive, giving people an insight into of who you are, what you do and how you do it. It should communicate what makes you stand out from your competitors and address your core values as a company and a brand.

This is Your Story, an important piece of content can be adapted consistently across promotional areas such as your website, social media profiles, business directory listings as well as marketing and promotional materials.

For the purpose of your business plan, your company overview should include;

  • An introduction to your company
  • Your company ethos, values, and mission statement
  • Your business USP's (Unique Selling Points)
  • A full description of your products and services

Your company overview contains a great deal of information, so it's essential to keep it clear, simple and interesting, always writing with your target audience in mind.

 

Further Reading & Actions

We recommend reading this useful article - "How to write an effective company overview" - for more advice and guidance.

Once you understand everything you need to include, you should write the first draft of your company overview and business opportunity in your business plan template. Remember, it doesn't need to be perfect at this stage, we will be revisiting this section when you have completed your full business plan.

 
Step 3 - Business Opportunity Outline

Outline the business opportunity which you are looking to approach

You should now include a brief introduction to the business opportunity.

You should detail the problems your business is looking to solve, and be clear how your company above all others is perfectly suited to fulfil these needs.

You may want to revisit your initial draft further to completing the detailed business plan to include any key industry and market research facts and figures that provide value and insight to the reader.

 

Check out this great article from IBM on writing your business opportunity statement >>

 

Business Opportunity

Business Opportunity Resources

 
Step 4 - Establish your Business Goals

Business Goals are needed to monitor your success

A critical part of your digital marketing plan is establishing clearly defined, quantifiable goals. You should think about exactly what you are looking to achieve from your digital marketing and assign goals that reflect this. Creating goals for your business can be anything from financial to process based. Both quantitative and qualitative goals are extremely important.

Such goals can be related to leads and sales or the quality of feedback about your services. For each goal you should identify what you want to achieve, the strategy to do this, how you will measure it, and the time in which you want this to happen.

These “Smart Goals” should be measurable and include deadlines as markers for success.

You should look to break your business goals down into smaller milestones so that you can track your progress.

Later in the guide, we will look at using these goals to introduce our metrics and defining how each will be measured. So for now, just identify the business goals, and we will expand on them later in your marketing plan to complete them with Key Performance Indicators.

 

Key Performance Indicators

Once you have established your business goals and target audience, it's a good time to start thinking about how you will measure the performance of your digital marketing campaign.

To do this, we use Key Performance Indicators.

A KPI is a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective. KPIs provide targets for your business progress, milestones, and insights that assist you in measuring success and making important decisions for your company.

There are KPIs for every aspect of business, whether it's financial, marketing, sales, or operational. We look at the defined business goals and decide the metrics which will give us the best insights. We recommend that you create a spreadsheet or table with each of your business goals listed, the KPI for each of these goals and an area to add the value each month for ongoing comparison.

 

You can read our article on "How to identify and set effective Business Goals" to learn more.

 
Step 5 - Identify your Target Audience

Understand your Target Audience and Demographic

The next essential part of your plan is to identify who your marketing efforts will be geared towards. Before you launch any sort of marketing campaign or website, it is crucial to establish who you are communicating with.

This will affect every decision for your campaign, from the writing style and content, the use of images, the places you advertise and promote, even your branding style. Understanding your target demographic is extremely important, so let's define who our audience actually are.

We need to profile our audience, looking at factors including;

  • Demographics
  • Buying Habits
  • Challenges and Goals

You can profile your audience in a number of ways, and once you understand who your audience is, you can make decisions on how best to reach them, and how to effectively manage your brand to resonate with them.

For some useful advice on how to identify your target audience, read our article here - "How to determine the target audience for your business"

 

 
Step 6 - Conduct your Competitor Research

Understanding and Assessing your Competitors

Competitor research is the process of identifying businesses in your industry that offer similar products or services and evaluating them based on a set of predetermined business criteria and Key Performance Indicators.

This will help you assess the ongoing performance of your business comparatively from the point of view of your customers. It is important to know how your customers view you in comparison to your competition. A competitor analysis will give you a better idea of what services are currently available to your target customer and what areas are being neglected.  

In this section we will address;

  • What competitor research is and why it is important
  • How to identify your competitors and how to conduct competitor research
  • How to utilise your findings from competitor research

Read the full guide to build this information into your digital marketing plan - How to conduct competitor research for your business

 
Step 7 - Assess the current Industry Landscape

Explore the competitive dynamics of your industry

Now that we have a wealth of information about ourselves, our target audience and our competitors, it's time to evaluate the industry as a whole. We need to understand the direction of the industry and factors which affect it before we start planning our promotional strategies.

To do this, we should research the current climate of the industry, consumer needs and requirements, and general challenges facing the market.

What's important in your industry landscape?

  • Are there any common problems or opportunities facing your industry as a whole?
  • Is the industry growing or in decline? Are there new competitors frequently emerging in the industry?
  • How much “bargaining power” do suppliers and consumers have within the industry?
  • Are there specific avenues to market which suit your industry better than others?
  • What are the average price points for your services within the industry, and how do your prices stack up?
  • Are there seasonal or circumstantial factors that affect the promotion and sales of your services and products?
  • What are the political, economical, social or technological issues that impact the operation of your industry?

With a broad scope of factors to consider, you should read our guidance here - "Conducting Industry Research"

We then recommend bringing all of your research together by producing a “SWOT Analysis”.

Once you have evaluated the landscape, it's time to take all the information we have established to date and make a start into putting an actionable plan in place for the different branches of your campaign.

 

 
 

Your very own FREE Digital Marketing Checklist

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We take you through the process with your personal check list, reading lists, guides and downloadable resources in which you can save your progress as you complete each stage. Web Rocket ensures you cover everything you need to know when getting ready to launch a new business or review your existing presence.

 

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