Chapter 1

Business Plan Guide

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 business growth.

The final business plan will be suitable for both internal purposes and to assist you in securing funding or investment.

In this Business Plan Guide, you will;

  • Understand what a business plan is and its purpose
  • Write an effective executive summary & company overview
  • Consider your business opportunity
  • Establish business goals and objectives
  • Understand and decide key performance indicators
  • Identify and understand your target audience
  • Conduct competitor research
  • Perform industry analysis
  • Produce a sales and marketing plan
  • Detail your company financials and projections
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Introduction to your Business Plan

Before we get stuck in to writing your business plan, it's important to understand a few key concepts.

First of all, we need to understand what a business plan is, and why it is important for our business to have one.

We should be clear what exactly to include in our business plan and how to write these sections effectively for our desired purpose. Our business plan needs to be dressed for success, so let's get the basic down first!

Let's begin by reading our "How to write a Business Plan" introduction.

Take me there

Business Plan Intro 1

Getting started with your Business Plan

Now we have an understanding of what we need to achieve from our business plan, we can get started.

  • Open a document (e.g. Word / Google Docs) on which you can make your notes and write your first draft of each section.
  • Make your way through each of the stages below, completing your document with the relevant information.
  • As you complete each stage, be sure to tick the section off on your action checklist to save your progress.
  • Once you have made a first draft of your business plan, you should review this with your relevant team members to make any amendments, and produce a finished copy.
Let's catch their attention with a stunning first page!

Business Plan - Why

Step 1 - Executive Summary

What is an Executive Summary in a Business Plan?

The first page of your business plan should offer an enticing, quick glance at the contents of your document. 

It should encapsulate the core points of your business plan in a perfectly summarised view. This synopsis is your chance to gain the full attention of your reader, and will often decide if they continue or not.

This is the Executive Summary.

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, we're going to create a first draft which you can revisit later.


What should an Executive Summary include?

The executive summary is setting the stage for your business plan and communicating, in brief, what you are aiming to achieve. It should be short, snappy, informative, and encourage the reader to want to learn more about your business. Particularly if your business plan is for the purpose of securing investment, you will need to engage the potential party from the get-go.

It should be formatted as a summarised view of each section of the business plan.

  • Business plan title & subtitle
  • Key details about your business, such as, company name, legal structure, contact information and location.
  • Outline the business opportunity, along with your company goals and objectives.
  • Detail your target audience and key competitors
  • Define what makes you unique in the industry space
  • Communicate your sale and marketing plan
  • Summarise your business financials and projections
  • Provide a breakdown of the key team members within the company and a brief summary of their roles.
  • As the business owner, you may want to include a summary about you, your background and experience.
  • If you are applying for funding or investment, you should outline the terms and details of your proposal and/or requirements

Reading & Resources


Next Steps - Create your Executive Summary

Now it's time to get stuck in and write the first draft of your Executive Summary!

This doesn't need to be perfect, you'll definitely be coming back to this once you have produced the rest of your business plan.

  • Discuss the resources with your team and collaborate to make a list of ideas and points you would like to include.
  • When you feel comfortable with the content and ideas, we recommend that you write a first draft.
  • Check that you have covered each of the key points, reviewed grammar, spelling, length and sentence structure.
  • Once you are happy, add the first draft of your Executive Summary to your Business Plan

Remember, we will come back to this section at the end of the business plan.

Step 2 - Company Overview

What is a Company Overview in a Business Plan?

Your company overview is a key piece of content that gives 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.


What to include in a Company Overview

Your company overview will be made up of 6 key sections. It should be informative, concise, and communicate your business and brand accurately and effectively.

  • Company details - (name / legal structure / locations / ownership / management team)
  • Company history - (if relevant)
  • Mission statement - (business opportunity / company ethos / values)
  • Products and services - (include business USP's and competitive advantage)
  • Target market - (and how your services meet their needs)
  • Goals and objectives (current and for future growth)


Reading & Resources


Next Steps - Create your Company Overview

  • Once you understand everything you need to include, you should write the first draft of your company overview.
  • 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.
  • Remember, it doesn't need to be perfect at this stage. We just need to get the ideas flowing and the basics in place.
Step 3 - Business Opportunity

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 - 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 - Target Audience

Identify and 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 - 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 - 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.


Step 8 - Marketing Plan

Creating the marketing section of your business plan

The marketing section is a fundamental part of your business plan. This is where you will utilise your previous research from your target audience, industry landscape, competitors and the overall business opportunity to clearly communicate 2 key factors;

  • How you’re going to expose your potential customers to your product or service.
  • How you’re going to get those potential customers to buy what you’re offering.

This will be presented in 4 key areas;

  • Products / Services & Target Market
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Sales, Distribution & Access
  • Advertising & Promotion

You should clearly detail everything that makes your product/service unique and what sets you aside from your competitors.

Explain why potential customers will find what you have to offer appealing and the rationale behind your pricing strategy.

Be clear about how consumers will access and purchase your products and services.

Create a detailed plan regarding how you plan to promote and advertise to your target market and why you have chosen these avenues.

In the next chapter of the Web Rocket, the Digital Marketing Plan, we will produce a detailed strategic document pertaining specifically to the online aspects of your marketing plan. However, for the purposes of your business plan, a clear explanation of all aspects of your marketing activities is required.


Next Steps

Read this informative article from Forbes - Preparing A Great Marketing Section For Your Business Plan

Once you have read the article and have a full understanding of what to include, create the marketing section of your business plan.


Step 9 - Financials & Projections

Writing the financial section of your business plan

Whilst this section can be overwhelming at first glance, it can be quite straight forward and offer you valuable insights into your business development.

The financial section of a business plan contains detailed information that forecasts sales, expenses, cash-flow and other projections.

It is absolutely essential if you are using your business plan for investment or funding, but is still extremely useful, even for internal purposes.

The financial section of your business plan details 4 key elements;

  • The income statement
  • The cash flow projection
  • The balance sheet
  • The statement of shareholders' equity

You should first read this article by "The Balance" - How to write a business plan financial section >>

Once you have a full understanding of what needs to go into each section, you can begin to put together each of the required documents to add into your business plan financial section.


Web Rocket

Your FREE Digital Marketing Guide

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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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