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In this blog you will learn about the importance of choosing the right pricing strategy for a successful business plan.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

Why is a pricing strategy important for a business plan?

A business plan is a written document outlining a company’s core business practices – from products and services offered to marketing, financial planning and budget, but also pricing strategy. This business plan can be very lengthy, outlining every aspect of the business in detail. Or it can be very short and lean for start ups that want to be as agile as possible.

This plan can be used for external investors and relations or for internal purposes. A business plan can be useful for internal purposes because it can make sure that all the decision makers are on the same page about the most important aspects of the business.

A 1% price increase can lead to an 8% increase in profit margin.

A business plan could be very lengthy and detailed or short and lean, but in all instances, it should have a clear vision for how pricing is tackled. A pricing strategy ultimately greatly determines the profit margin of your product or service and how much revenue the company will make. Thorough research of consultancy agencies also show that pricing is very important. McKinsey even argues that a 1% prices increase can lead up to an 8% increase in profits. That is a real example of how small adjustments can have a huge impact!

It is clear that each business plan should have a section about pricing strategies. How detailed and complicated this pricing strategy should be depends for each individual business and challenges in the business environment. However, businesses should at least take some factors into account when thinking about their pricing strategy.

What factors to take into account?

The pricing strategy can best be explained in the marketing section of your business plan. In this section you should describe what price you will charge for your product or service to customers and your argumentation for why you ask this. However, businesses always balance the challenging scale of charging too much or too little. Ideally you want to find the middle, the optimal price point.

The following questions need to be answered for writing a well-structured pricing strategy in your business plan:

What is the cost of your product or service?

Most companies need to be profitable. They need to pay their expenses, their employees and return a reasonable profit. Unless you are a well-funded-winner-takes-all-growth-company such as Uber or Gorillas, you will need to earn more than you spend on your products. In order to be profitable you need to know how much your expenses are, to remain profitable overall.

How does your price compare to other alternatives in the market?

Most companies have competitors for their products or services, only few companies can act as a monopoly. Therefore, you need to know how your price compares to the other prices in the market. Are you one of the cheapest, the most expensive or somewhere in the middle?

Why is your price competitive?

When you know the prices of your competitors, you need to be able to explain why your price is better or different than that of your competitions. Do you offer more value for the same price? Do you offer less, but are you the cheapest? Or does your company offer something so unique that a premium pricing strategy sounds fair to your customer? You need to be able to stand out from the competition and price is an efficient differentiator.

What is the expected ROI (Return On Investment)?

When you set your price, you need to be able to explain how much you are expeciting to make. Will the price you offer attract enough customers to make your business operate profitable? Let’s say your expenses are 10.000 euros per month, what return will your price get you for your expected amount of sales?

Top pricing strategies for a business plan

Now you know why pricing is important for your business plan, “but what strategies are best for me?” you may ask. Well, let’s talk pricing strategies. There are plenty of pricing strategies and which ones are best for which business depends on various factors and the industry. However, here is a list of 9 pricing strategies that you can use for your business plan.

  • Cost-plus pricing
  • Competitive pricing
  • Key-Value item pricing
  • Dynamic pricing
  • Premium pricing
  • Hourly based pricing
  • Customer-value based pricing
  • Psychological pricing
  • Geographical pricing

Most of the time, businesses do not use a single pricing strategy in their business but rather a combination of pricing strategies. Cost-plus pricing or competitor based pricing can be good starting points for pricing, but if you make these dynamic or take geographical regions into account, then your pricing becomes even more advanced!

Pricing strategies should not be left out of your business plan. Having a clear vision on how you are going to price your product(s) and service(s) helps you to achieve the best possible profit margins and revenue. If you are able to answer thoughtfully on the questions asked in this blog then you know that you have a rather clear vision on your pricing strategy.

If there are still some things unclear or vague, then it would be adviceable to learn more about all the possible pricing strategies . You can always look for inspiration to our business cases. Do you want to know more about pricing or about SYMSON? Do not hesitate to contact us!

Do you want a free demo to try how SYMSON can help your business with margin improvement or pricing management? Do you want to learn more? Schedule a call with a consultant and book a 20 minute brainstorm session!

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Hyperlearning

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

  • 11.4 The Business Plan
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
  • 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
  • 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Review Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Case Questions
  • Suggested Resources
  • 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
  • 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
  • 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
  • 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
  • 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
  • 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
  • 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
  • 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
  • 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
  • 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
  • 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
  • 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
  • 5.3 Competitive Analysis
  • 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
  • 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
  • 6.3 Design Thinking
  • 6.4 Lean Processes
  • 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
  • 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
  • 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
  • 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
  • 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
  • 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
  • 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
  • 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
  • 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
  • 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
  • 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
  • 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
  • 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
  • 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
  • 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
  • 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
  • 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
  • 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
  • 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
  • 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
  • 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
  • 11.2 Designing the Business Model
  • 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
  • 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
  • 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
  • 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
  • 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
  • 13.2 Corporations
  • 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
  • 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
  • 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
  • 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
  • 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
  • 14.1 Types of Resources
  • 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
  • 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
  • 15.1 Launching Your Venture
  • 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
  • 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
  • 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
  • 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
  • A | Suggested Resources

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the different purposes of a business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a brief business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a full business plan

Unlike the brief or lean formats introduced so far, the business plan is a formal document used for the long-range planning of a company’s operation. It typically includes background information, financial information, and a summary of the business. Investors nearly always request a formal business plan because it is an integral part of their evaluation of whether to invest in a company. Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more “set in stone” than a business model canvas , which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business. A business plan is likely to describe the business and industry, market strategies, sales potential, and competitive analysis, as well as the company’s long-term goals and objectives. An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to use the canvas process instead of the business plan, whereas others use a shorter version of the business plan, submitting it to investors after several iterations. There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup . 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan. As you progress, you can also consider a brief business plan (about two pages)—if you want to support a rapid business launch—and/or a standard business plan.

As with many aspects of entrepreneurship, there are no clear hard and fast rules to achieving entrepreneurial success. You may encounter different people who want different things (canvas, summary, full business plan), and you also have flexibility in following whatever tool works best for you. Like the canvas, the various versions of the business plan are tools that will aid you in your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Business Plan Overview

Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we’ll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan. If you are able to successfully design a business model canvas, then you will have the structure for developing a clear business plan that you can submit for financial consideration.

Both types of business plans aim at providing a picture and roadmap to follow from conception to creation. If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept.

The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, dealing with the proverbial devil in the details. Developing a full business plan will assist those of you who need a more detailed and structured roadmap, or those of you with little to no background in business. The business planning process includes the business model, a feasibility analysis, and a full business plan, which we will discuss later in this section. Next, we explore how a business plan can meet several different needs.

Purposes of a Business Plan

A business plan can serve many different purposes—some internal, others external. As we discussed previously, you can use a business plan as an internal early planning device, an extension of a napkin sketch, and as a follow-up to one of the canvas tools. A business plan can be an organizational roadmap , that is, an internal planning tool and working plan that you can apply to your business in order to reach your desired goals over the course of several years. The business plan should be written by the owners of the venture, since it forces a firsthand examination of the business operations and allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.

Refer to the business venture throughout the document. Generally speaking, a business plan should not be written in the first person.

A major external purpose for the business plan is as an investment tool that outlines financial projections, becoming a document designed to attract investors. In many instances, a business plan can complement a formal investor’s pitch. In this context, the business plan is a presentation plan, intended for an outside audience that may or may not be familiar with your industry, your business, and your competitors.

You can also use your business plan as a contingency plan by outlining some “what-if” scenarios and exploring how you might respond if these scenarios unfold. Pretty Young Professional launched in November 2010 as an online resource to guide an emerging generation of female leaders. The site focused on recent female college graduates and current students searching for professional roles and those in their first professional roles. It was founded by four friends who were coworkers at the global consultancy firm McKinsey. But after positions and equity were decided among them, fundamental differences of opinion about the direction of the business emerged between two factions, according to the cofounder and former CEO Kathryn Minshew . “I think, naively, we assumed that if we kicked the can down the road on some of those things, we’d be able to sort them out,” Minshew said. Minshew went on to found a different professional site, The Muse , and took much of the editorial team of Pretty Young Professional with her. 49 Whereas greater planning potentially could have prevented the early demise of Pretty Young Professional, a change in planning led to overnight success for Joshua Esnard and The Cut Buddy team. Esnard invented and patented the plastic hair template that he was selling online out of his Fort Lauderdale garage while working a full-time job at Broward College and running a side business. Esnard had hundreds of boxes of Cut Buddies sitting in his home when he changed his marketing plan to enlist companies specializing in making videos go viral. It worked so well that a promotional video for the product garnered 8 million views in hours. The Cut Buddy sold over 4,000 products in a few hours when Esnard only had hundreds remaining. Demand greatly exceeded his supply, so Esnard had to scramble to increase manufacturing and offered customers two-for-one deals to make up for delays. This led to selling 55,000 units, generating $700,000 in sales in 2017. 50 After appearing on Shark Tank and landing a deal with Daymond John that gave the “shark” a 20-percent equity stake in return for $300,000, The Cut Buddy has added new distribution channels to include retail sales along with online commerce. Changing one aspect of a business plan—the marketing plan—yielded success for The Cut Buddy.

Link to Learning

Watch this video of Cut Buddy’s founder, Joshua Esnard, telling his company’s story to learn more.

If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept. This version is used to interest potential investors, employees, and other stakeholders, and will include a financial summary “box,” but it must have a disclaimer, and the founder/entrepreneur may need to have the people who receive it sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) . The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, providing supporting details, and would be required by financial institutions and others as they formally become stakeholders in the venture. Both are aimed at providing a picture and roadmap to go from conception to creation.

Types of Business Plans

The brief business plan is similar to an extended executive summary from the full business plan. This concise document provides a broad overview of your entrepreneurial concept, your team members, how and why you will execute on your plans, and why you are the ones to do so. You can think of a brief business plan as a scene setter or—since we began this chapter with a film reference—as a trailer to the full movie. The brief business plan is the commercial equivalent to a trailer for Field of Dreams , whereas the full plan is the full-length movie equivalent.

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

As the name implies, the brief business plan or executive summary summarizes key elements of the entire business plan, such as the business concept, financial features, and current business position. The executive summary version of the business plan is your opportunity to broadly articulate the overall concept and vision of the company for yourself, for prospective investors, and for current and future employees.

A typical executive summary is generally no longer than a page, but because the brief business plan is essentially an extended executive summary, the executive summary section is vital. This is the “ask” to an investor. You should begin by clearly stating what you are asking for in the summary.

In the business concept phase, you’ll describe the business, its product, and its markets. Describe the customer segment it serves and why your company will hold a competitive advantage. This section may align roughly with the customer segments and value-proposition segments of a canvas.

Next, highlight the important financial features, including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Like the financial portion of a feasibility analysis, the financial analysis component of a business plan may typically include items like a twelve-month profit and loss projection, a three- or four-year profit and loss projection, a cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet, and a breakeven calculation. You can explore a feasibility study and financial projections in more depth in the formal business plan. Here, you want to focus on the big picture of your numbers and what they mean.

The current business position section can furnish relevant information about you and your team members and the company at large. This is your opportunity to tell the story of how you formed the company, to describe its legal status (form of operation), and to list the principal players. In one part of the extended executive summary, you can cover your reasons for starting the business: Here is an opportunity to clearly define the needs you think you can meet and perhaps get into the pains and gains of customers. You also can provide a summary of the overall strategic direction in which you intend to take the company. Describe the company’s mission, vision, goals and objectives, overall business model, and value proposition.

Rice University’s Student Business Plan Competition, one of the largest and overall best-regarded graduate school business-plan competitions (see Telling Your Entrepreneurial Story and Pitching the Idea ), requires an executive summary of up to five pages to apply. 51 , 52 Its suggested sections are shown in Table 11.2 .

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business. See if you can find a version of the company’s actual executive summary, business plan, or canvas. Compare and contrast your vision with what the company has articulated.

  • These companies are well established but is there a component of what you charted that you would advise the company to change to ensure future viability?
  • Map out a contingency plan for a “what-if” scenario if one key aspect of the company or the environment it operates in were drastically is altered?

Full Business Plan

Even full business plans can vary in length, scale, and scope. Rice University sets a ten-page cap on business plans submitted for the full competition. The IndUS Entrepreneurs , one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.

Executive Summary

The executive summary should provide an overview of your business with key points and issues. Because the summary is intended to summarize the entire document, it is most helpful to write this section last, even though it comes first in sequence. The writing in this section should be especially concise. Readers should be able to understand your needs and capabilities at first glance. The section should tell the reader what you want and your “ask” should be explicitly stated in the summary.

Describe your business, its product or service, and the intended customers. Explain what will be sold, who it will be sold to, and what competitive advantages the business has. Table 11.3 shows a sample executive summary for the fictional company La Vida Lola.

Business Description

This section describes the industry, your product, and the business and success factors. It should provide a current outlook as well as future trends and developments. You also should address your company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Summarize your overall strategic direction, your reasons for starting the business, a description of your products and services, your business model, and your company’s value proposition. Consider including the Standard Industrial Classification/North American Industry Classification System (SIC/NAICS) code to specify the industry and insure correct identification. The industry extends beyond where the business is located and operates, and should include national and global dynamics. Table 11.4 shows a sample business description for La Vida Lola.

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

Here you should define your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. You’ll want to include your TAM and forecast the SAM . (Both these terms are discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis .) This is a place to address market segmentation strategies by geography, customer attributes, or product orientation. Describe your positioning relative to your competitors’ in terms of pricing, distribution, promotion plan, and sales potential. Table 11.5 shows an example industry analysis and market strategy for La Vida Lola.

Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy as it relates to the competition. You want to be able to identify who are your major competitors and assess what are their market shares, markets served, strategies employed, and expected response to entry? You likely want to conduct a classic SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and complete a competitive-strength grid or competitive matrix. Outline your company’s competitive strengths relative to those of the competition in regard to product, distribution, pricing, promotion, and advertising. What are your company’s competitive advantages and their likely impacts on its success? The key is to construct it properly for the relevant features/benefits (by weight, according to customers) and how the startup compares to incumbents. The competitive matrix should show clearly how and why the startup has a clear (if not currently measurable) competitive advantage. Some common features in the example include price, benefits, quality, type of features, locations, and distribution/sales. Sample templates are shown in Figure 11.17 and Figure 11.18 . A competitive analysis helps you create a marketing strategy that will identify assets or skills that your competitors are lacking so you can plan to fill those gaps, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. When creating a competitor analysis, it is important to focus on the key features and elements that matter to customers, rather than focusing too heavily on the entrepreneur’s idea and desires.

Operations and Management Plan

In this section, outline how you will manage your company. Describe its organizational structure. Here you can address the form of ownership and, if warranted, include an organizational chart/structure. Highlight the backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, areas of expertise, and roles of members of the management team. This is also the place to mention any other stakeholders, such as a board of directors or advisory board(s), and their relevant relationship to the founder, experience and value to help make the venture successful, and professional service firms providing management support, such as accounting services and legal counsel.

Table 11.6 shows a sample operations and management plan for La Vida Lola.

Marketing Plan

Here you should outline and describe an effective overall marketing strategy for your venture, providing details regarding pricing, promotion, advertising, distribution, media usage, public relations, and a digital presence. Fully describe your sales management plan and the composition of your sales force, along with a comprehensive and detailed budget for the marketing plan. Table 11.7 shows a sample marketing plan for La Vida Lola.

Financial Plan

A financial plan seeks to forecast revenue and expenses; project a financial narrative; and estimate project costs, valuations, and cash flow projections. This section should present an accurate, realistic, and achievable financial plan for your venture (see Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting for detailed discussions about conducting these projections). Include sales forecasts and income projections, pro forma financial statements ( Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team , a breakeven analysis, and a capital budget. Identify your possible sources of financing (discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis ). Figure 11.19 shows a template of cash-flow needs for La Vida Lola.

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

Hugh Jackman ( Figure 11.20 ) may best be known for portraying a comic-book superhero who used his mutant abilities to protect the world from villains. But the Wolverine actor is also working to make the planet a better place for real, not through adamantium claws but through social entrepreneurship.

A love of java jolted Jackman into action in 2009, when he traveled to Ethiopia with a Christian humanitarian group to shoot a documentary about the impact of fair-trade certification on coffee growers there. He decided to launch a business and follow in the footsteps of the late Paul Newman, another famous actor turned philanthropist via food ventures.

Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee two years later; he sold the line to Keurig in 2015. One Laughing Man Coffee café in New York continues to operate independently, investing its proceeds into charitable programs that support better housing, health, and educational initiatives within fair-trade farming communities. 55 Although the New York location is the only café, the coffee brand is still distributed, with Keurig donating an undisclosed portion of Laughing Man proceeds to those causes (whereas Jackman donates all his profits). The company initially donated its profits to World Vision, the Christian humanitarian group Jackman accompanied in 2009. In 2017, it created the Laughing Man Foundation to be more active with its money management and distribution.

  • You be the entrepreneur. If you were Jackman, would you have sold the company to Keurig? Why or why not?
  • Would you have started the Laughing Man Foundation?
  • What else can Jackman do to aid fair-trade practices for coffee growers?

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

Founded in 2014, Textbooks for Change uses a cross-compensation model, in which one customer segment pays for a product or service, and the profit from that revenue is used to provide the same product or service to another, underserved segment. Textbooks for Change partners with student organizations to collect used college textbooks, some of which are re-sold while others are donated to students in need at underserved universities across the globe. The organization has reused or recycled 250,000 textbooks, providing 220,000 students with access through seven campus partners in East Africa. This B-corp social enterprise tackles a problem and offers a solution that is directly relevant to college students like yourself. Have you observed a problem on your college campus or other campuses that is not being served properly? Could it result in a social enterprise?

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

A franchisee of East Coast Wings, a chain with dozens of restaurants in the United States, has decided to part ways with the chain. The new store will feature the same basic sports-bar-and-restaurant concept and serve the same basic foods: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The new restaurant can’t rely on the same distributors and suppliers. A new business plan is needed.

  • What steps should the new restaurant take to create a new business plan?
  • Should it attempt to serve the same customers? Why or why not?

This New York Times video, “An Unlikely Business Plan,” describes entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, Michigan.

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
  • 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/

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which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

The pricing strategy guide: Choosing pricing strategies that grow (not sink) your business

Choosing the pricing strategy for your business requires research, calculation, and a good amount of thought. Simply guessing may put you out of business. Here's what you need to know.

Definition of pricing

What are pricing strategies.

  • Importance of pricing strategy

Top 7 pricing strategies

  • 3 real-world examples
  • How to create your strategy
  • Determine value metric
  • Customer profiles & segments
  • User research & experiments
  • Bonus: 10 data-driven tips
  • Industry differences
  • Final takeaway

Pricing strategies FAQs

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Too many businesses set their pricing without putting much thought into it. This is a mistake causing them to leave money on the table from the beginning. The good news is that taking the time to get your product pricing right can act as a powerful growth lever.  If you optimize your pricing strategy so that more people are paying a higher amount, you'll end up with significantly more revenue than a business who treats pricing more passively. This sounds obvious, but it's rare for businesses to put much effort into finding the best pricing strategy.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about setting a pricing strategy that works for your business. 

Pricing is defined as the amount of money that you charge for your products, but understanding it requires much more than that simple definition. Baked into your pricing are indicators to your potential customers about how much you value your brand, product, and customers. It's one of the first things that can push a customer towards, or away from, buying your product. As such, it should be calculated with certainty.

Pricing strategies refer to the processes and methodologies businesses use to set prices for their products and services. If pricing is how much you charge for your products, then product pricing strategy is how you determine what that amount should be. There are different pricing strategies to choose from but some of the more common ones include:

  • Value-based pricing
  • Competitive pricing
  • Price skimming
  • Cost-plus pricing
  • Penetration pricing
  • Economy pricing
  • Dynamic pricing

Pricing is an underutilized growth lever

Many companies focus on acquisition to grow their business, but studies have shown that small variations in pricing can raise or lower revenue by 20-50%. Despite that, even among Fortune 500 companies, fewer than 5% have functions dedicated to setting the best price possible. There's a missed opportunity in the business world to see immediate growth for relatively little effort. 

Navigating PLG billing and pricing? Read our latest guide on product-led SaaS

Because most businesses spend less than 10 hours per year thinking about pricing, there's a lot of untapped growth potential in optimizing what you charge. In fact, choosing the best pricing method is a more powerful growth lever than customer acquisition. In some cases, it can be up to 7.5 times more powerful than acquisition. 

The importance of nailing your pricing strategy

Having an  effective pricing strategy  helps solidify your position by building trust with your customers, as well as meeting your business goals. Let's compare and contrast the messaging that a strong pricing strategy sends in relation to a weaker one.

A winning pricing strategy:

  • Portrays value

The word cheap has two meanings. It can mean a lower price, but it can also mean poorly made. There's a reason people associate cheaply priced products with cheaply made ones. Built into the higher price of a product is the assumption that it's of higher value.

  • Convinces customers to buy 

A high price may convey value, but if that price is more than a potential customer is willing to pay, it won't matter. A low price will seem cheap and get your product passed over. The ideal price is one that convinces people to purchase your offering over the similar products that your competitors have to offer.

  • Gives your customers confidence in your product 

If higher-priced products portray value and exclusivity, then the opposite follows as well. Prices that are too low will make it seem as though your product isn't well made.

Buyers are the central tenet of your business

A weak pricing strategy:

  • Doesn't accurately portray the value of your product

If you believe you have a winning product, and you should if you are selling it, then you need to convince customers of that. Setting prices too low sends the opposite message.

  • Makes customers feel uncertain about buying

Just as the right price is one that customers will pull the trigger on quickly, a price that's too high or too low will cause hesitation.

  • Targets the wrong customers

Some customers prefer value, and some prefer luxury. You have to price your product to match the type of customer it is targeted towards.

Let's now take a closer look at the seven most common pricing strategies that were outlined above.

Click on any of the links below for a more in-depth guide to that particular pricing strategy.

1. Value-based pricing

With value-based pricing, you set your prices according to what consumers think your product is worth. We're big fans of this pricing strategy for SaaS businesses.

2. Competitive pricing

When you use a competitive pricing strategy, you're setting your prices based on what the competition is charging. This can be a good strategy in the right circumstances, such as a  business just starting out , but it doesn't leave a lot of room for growth.

3. Price skimming  

If you set your prices as high as the market will possibly tolerate and then lower them over time, you'll be using the price skimming strategy. The goal is to skim the top off the market and the lower prices to reach everyone else. With the right product it can work, but you should be very cautious using it.

4. Cost-plus pricing 

This is one of the simplest pricing strategies. You just take the product production cost and add a certain percentage to it. While simple, it is less than ideal for anything but physical products.

5. Penetration pricing

In highly competitive markets, it can be hard for new companies to get a foothold. One way some companies attempt to push new products is by offering prices that are much lower than the competition. This is penetration pricing. While it may get you customers and decent sales volume, you'll need a lot of them and you'll need them  to be very loyal  to stick around when the price increases in the future.

6. Economy pricing 

This strategy is popular in the commodity goods sector. The goal is to price a product cheaper than the competition and make the money back with increased volume. While it's a good method to get people to buy your generic soda, it's not a great fit for SaaS and subscription businesses.

7. Dynamic pricing 

In some industries, you can get away with constantly  changing your prices  to match the current demand for the item. This doesn't work well for subscription and SaaS business, because customers expect consistent monthly or yearly expenses.

Three real-world pricing strategy examples

Real-world pricing strategy examples are the best way for a business to better understand the above-listed pricing strategies. Evaluating other businesses' approaches can be a good starting point but keep in mind that the right pricing strategy is based on math, market research, and consumer insights. For now, let’s look at the pricing strategy examples of some of the biggest brands of today: 

1. Streaming services 

Have you noticed that you pay roughly the same amount for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and other streaming services? That's because these companies have adopted competitive pricing , or at least a form of it, called  market-based pricing .

2. Salesforce

When Salesforce first came out, they were the only CRM in the cloud. (It wasn't even called 'the cloud' back then!) Armed with ground-breaking deployment and a target customer of a large enterprise, Salesforce could charge what they wanted. Later, after they'd grown, they were able to lower prices so small businesses could sign up. This is a classic example of  price skimming . 

3. Dollar Shave Club

At one time, you couldn't turn on your TV without an ad for Dollar Shave Club telling you how much cheaper they were than razors at the store. Although an aggressive  marketing strategy  and advertising like that is unusual for the pricing model, they were nevertheless employing economy pricing. It worked out well for them. They were acquired by Unilever in 2016 for a reported $1 billion.

How to create a winning pricing strategy

In the beginning, the actual number you're charging isn't that important.

There are some exceptions, but for the most part, you should first be figuring out the range you're in: a $10 product, $100 product, $1k product, etc. Don't waste time debating $500 vs. $505, because this doesn't matter as much until you have a stronger foundation beneath you.

Instead, understanding the following is much more important:

  • Finding your  value metric
  • Setting your ideal  customer profiles and segments
  • Completing  user research + experimentation

Step 1: Determine your value metric

A “ value metric ” is essentially what you charge for. For example: per seat, per 1,000 visits, per CPA, per GB used, per transaction, etc. 

If you get everything else wrong in pricing, but you get your value metric right, you'll do ok . It's that important. Partly because it bakes lower churn and higher expansion revenue into your monetization.

A pricing strategy based on a value metric (vs. a tiered monthly fee) is important because it allows you to make sure you're not charging a large customer the same as you'd charge a small customer.

If you remember your high school or college economics class, the professor put a point on a demand curve for the perfect price and said “the revenue a firm gets is the area under that point.” The problem here is: what about all that other area under the curve?  You’re missing out on that revenue by charging a flat monthly fee.

Revenue potential - one price point. Chart plots price vs quantity. Price x quantity = revenue.

“Good, better, best” pricing strategy is a bit more advantageous, because you end up with three points on our trusty demand curve, and thus more revenue potential. You see this problem among many eCommerce businesses and retailers whose products are constrained by being physical goods—the car with the basic package vs. the car with the stereo and sunroof vs. the car with everything. In software, it’s thankfully dying out, but you’ll still see it with mass-market products:  Netflix, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.

Revenue potential - three price points. P1xQ2 + P2xQ2 + P3xQ3 = revenue

A value metric, however, allows you to have essentially infinite price points—maximizing your revenue potential. In practice, you’ll never show infinite price points on your pricing page , sales deck, or mobile conversion page, but you may have a new customer come in at a certain level and then grow.

Revenue potential - value metrics. P1xQ1 + P2xQ2+... = reveue

Value metrics also bake growth directly into how you charge because as usage or the amount of value received goes up (and those are not the same thing), the customer pays more. If they end up using or consuming less, they pay less (and thus avoid churning). This is why companies using value metrics are typically growing at  double the rate with half the churn and 2x the expansion revenue  when compared to companies that charge a flat fee or where the only difference between their pricing tiers are features.

To determine your value metric, think about the  ideal essence of value  for your product—what value are you directly providing your customer?

In B2B, it's likely going to be money saved, revenue gained, time saved, etc. In  DTC , it may be the joy you bring them, fitness achieved, increased efficiency, etc. Obviously, we can't measure all of these, but if you can,  and  your customer trusts your measurement (meaning you say you saved them $100 and they agree you saved them $100), that’s your value metric.

As an example, the perfect value metric for  Paddle Retain  (our churn recovery product) is how much churn we recover for you. We can measure this, and our customers agree to the measurement, so we can charge on that axis. Other pure value metric products include  MainStreet , which handles government paperwork to automatically get you back tax credits—you pay a percentage of the money saved.

Track the revenue impact of automatic churn recovery for trial users

Most of you won't have a pure value metric, so the next step is to find a proxy for that metric. Take for example  HubSpot ’s marketing product. Their pure value metric is the amount of revenue their tool drives for your business. This is hard to measure and hard for the customer to agree to in terms of what percentage of credit HubSpot deserves for revenue from a blog post. Proxies for HubSpot are things like the number of contacts, number of visits, number of users, etc.

To find the right proxy metric, you want to come up with 5-10 proxies and then talk to your customers and prospects. You’ll typically find 1-2 of these pricing metrics will be most preferred amongst your target customers. You then want to make sure those 1-2 also make sense from a growth perspective. Your larger customers should be using/getting more of the metric, whereas your smaller customers should be using/getting less of the metric. You also want to make sure the metric encourages retention.

When we look at HubSpot, if they were to primarily price on “number of seats”, folks could share a login and HubSpot wouldn’t make much more money on large customers vs. small. Ironically they wouldn’t get as many people invested in HubSpot, because there’d be friction to adding additional seats. Instead, if they give unlimited seats and price based on “number of contacts” there’s minimal friction to getting as many people into HubSpot as possible to do activities (e.g., blog posts,  email campaigns , landing pages, etc.) that then produce contacts.

The result: HubSpot’s marketing product’s value metric is “contacts”, which ensures growth is baked directly into how they make money. The usage drives the metric, which therein drives revenue. Most importantly customers small, medium, and large are all paying at the point they see the value and then can grow.

Some other examples:

  • Wistia  charges by the number of videos or channels you use/have
  • Zapier  invented the concept of zap (connection of software) and charge based on time to connect
  • Theater in Barcelona charged based on the number of laughs
  • Husqvarna  charges based on time for lawn care products vs. making you buy them
  • Rolls Royce  charges per mile for airplane engines. They own the engines on the plane you own and do all the maintenance. Cool model.
  • Fresh Patch  charges based on the amount of grass you want per month for your dog—yes they deliver grass to you monthly

As a side note, you should stop pricing based on seats for products where each seat doesn’t provide a unique experience. For instance, imagine you're an AE using a CRM. If you log into the account of the AE sitting next to you, you can’t really do your work because you are only seeing their leads and accounts. Conversely, if you were a marketing exec and were to log in to another marketing manager’s account in HubSpot, you could do all the work you need to. Thus, for the latter, seats are not the right value metric.

Per-seat pricing is a relic of the  perpetual license  era when we couldn’t measure usage or value enough within our products. We’re beyond that point, so use the above as a good litmus test.

Step 2: Determine your customer profiles and segments

The second key component of your pricing strategy is determining your target segment and ideal customer profile. We've all heard about personas, and you may be rolling your eyes at the concept, but most personas are useless because they aren’t quantitative enough. When used properly, quantified personas and segments are beautiful tools. The information needs to go beyond just cute names like “Startup Steve" with a cute avatar, and cute meetings where people tell you they’re targeting "developers."

To get quantified personas, you need to pull out a spreadsheet.  Here’s a template  you can use.

Buyer persona template

1. Columns: Customer profiles you're targeting

These can take many forms, but the ultimate goal is to be as specific as possible so that you not only know who you’re targeting but how to monetize and retain them. Pragmatically, you typically separate these customer profiles based on size or role (or both). For example, a marketing automation product may target the following profiles:

  • Marketing leaders (Director and higher) at companies $1M to $10M
  • Marketing leaders (Director and higher) at companies $10.01M to $50M
  • Marketing leaders (Director and higher) at companies $50.01M to $100M

The point is you can’t be everything to all people and you need to understand who you’re targeting in order to make better decisions.

2. Rows: Characteristics of each profile to help you differentiate between them

  • Most valued features
  • Least valued features
  • Willingness to pay
  • Lifetime value (LTV)
  • Customer acquisition costs (CAC)
  • ... and any other metric or category you think could be useful

Quantified buyer personas are data-driven profiles of the customers you're targeting or choosing to ignore

If you're just starting out or you don't have some of this data, it’s fine. Still fill it out though with your hypotheses. You know  something  about your customers.

Next, you then need to validate (or invalidate) the most pressing hypothesis in that spreadsheet based on the decisions you’re going to make. If you're going to validate a new feature for a particular segment, then that's where you should start. Price point the biggest question? Start by researching the price point with each of these roles/segments.

If you don't know who your key roles/segments are, there's no way in hell you’ll set up an efficient growth flywheel, let alone an optimized pricing strategy. Personas act as a constitution within your business to centralize your focus and arguments about direction.

If you don't do segment and persona analysis, you better be able to raise a ton of money. I guarantee you there's some persona or segment on some vision document or in that euphoric part of your entrepreneurial brain that is completely wrong for your business. I see it all the time. Even I—someone who thinks about segments and customer research all the time—fall prey to being an absolute idiot with who we should target.

When we built  ProfitWell Metrics (our free subscription metrics tool) I thought we were geniuses who were going to be billionaires. Turns out analytics products are terrible. Willingness to pay for them is terrible; retention for them is terrible; NPS is terrible. Everything is just terrible, mainly because customers don't appreciate graphs or at least aren't willing to pay much for them. When we did our research this became obvious and put us 18 months ahead of our competitors, pushing us to change up the positioning of the product to freemium, which has fueled our business ever since (oh and our NPS is 70, because we massively over-deliver a free product better than the paid competition).

Never underestimate the power of focusing on the customer through research. You should never, ever just do what they ask, but you need to be an anthropologist who knows them better than anyone else.

Step 3: User research + experimentation

Beyond your value metric and core segments, the monetization game becomes extremely tactical and research-based. Figuring out your price point involves researching those segments and then making decisions in the field. Same with discounting, add-on, and packaging strategies. The point: monetization is never finished because it’s the very essence of translating your value into an optimal framework for your target customer segments.

Practically this is why you should be experimenting with your monetization every quarter. Experimentation can get tricky and have a few quirks, but you’ll find it’s similar to most growth frameworks out there (which are all versions of the scientific method).

Here’s a good prioritization list of what business owners should attack in optimizing their  monetization strategy  once they have the core segments and value metric figured out:

Priority 1: Foundational [see above]

  • Core customer segments
  • Value metrics

Priority 2: Core

  • Order of magnitude price point (are you a $10 product vs. a $500 product)
  • Positioning and value props

Priority 3: Optimizations

  • Add-on strategy
  • Specific price point (are you a $10 product vs. a $11 product)
  • Price localization/internationalization
  • Discounting strategy
  • Contract Term optimization

Priority 4: Growth accelerators

  • Market expansion (going up or down market)
  • Vertical expansion
  • Multi-Product

Your true order of operations with monetization will vary, but for the most part, all companies should work through the foundational and core sections before moving to the optimizations and growth accelerators. If you’re larger or there’s a fire, you may start with an optimization. In fact, this is sometimes a good idea. Something more scoped like “price localization” can help get momentum, be a forcing function to clean up tech and experimentation stacks, and mitigate political conversations. Remember, monetization is something that’s important, uncomfortable, and something you likely don’t know much about, so progress is better than nothing. Start small. You can (and should) always do more.

Bonus: 10 rapid-fire pricing strategy tips rooted in data⚡

In case you're still hungry for more tips on nailing your pricing strategy and achieving maximum profitability, look no further. We've got you covered:

1. You should  localize your pricing  to the currency and willingness to pay of the prospect's region

  • Revenue per customer is 30% higher when you just use the proper currency symbol
  • Having different price points in different regions increases revenue per customer further, and is justified based on different consumer demands in different regions

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

2. Freemium is an acquisition model, not a part of pricing

  • Think of  freemium  as a premium ebook driving leads, not another pricing tier
  • Don't do freemium until you truly understand how to convert leads to customers, because you’ll end up increasing noise or false positives when you’re trying to figure out your segment beachheads. The best folks who deploy free typically don’t implement freemium until two to three years into their business. The exceptions to this notion are if you have a very specific need or network effect (eg., marketplaces, social networks, etc.) or if you have a top 50 growth person on your team.
  • To be clear, we're not saying DON’T do freemium. we're saying it's a scalpel, not a sledgehammer that requires thought. A lot of people end up reading our articles on freemium and end up going, “Cool, let’s do freemium and we’ll be a unicorn.” I’m being pragmatic in that you need to realize freemium is fantastic, but doing freemium properly takes a lot of effort and nuance.
  • Paid users who convert from free tend to have higher NPS, better retention, and much lower CAC .

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

3. Value propositions matter oh so much

In B2B value propositions can swing willingness to pay ±20%, in DTC it's ±15%

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

4. Don't discount over 20%

In some verticals discounting over 20% may be fine, but you're likely not in one of them (although you may think you are), but the size of the discount almost perfectly correlates with higher churn. Large  discounts  get people to convert, but they don't stick around.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

5. For upgrades to annual discounts, don't use percentages and try offers

Percentages don't work as well as whole dollar amounts for discounts (ie., "one month" will work better than "X percent off"). Annuals see much lower churn rates.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

6. Should you end your price in 9s or 0s? Depends on your price point

Ending your prices in 9s evokes a discount brand, making the customer feel like they're getting something. Ending in 0 evokes luxury or premium, making them feel like they're getting a high-end product. Studies on this for technology products are inconclusive. We have seen it increase conversion in lower-cost products, but retention isn't as good with those customers.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

7. You should experiment with your pricing in some manner every quarter

This doesn't mean change you should the price point each quarter, but experiment with variable costs. More changes correlate with increasing revenue per customer. Like all things, focusing on something makes you improve it.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

8. Case studies boost willingness to pay quite a bit

Social proof is important.  Case studies  that offer proof of the high quality of your products can boost willingness to pay by 10-15% in both B2B and in DTC.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

9. Design helps boost willingness to pay by 20%

This graph didn't look this way 10 years ago when design didn't do much for willingness to pay. Today, affinity for a company's design can boost willingness to pay considerably.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

10. Integrations boost retention and willingness to pay

The more integrations a customer is using, typically the higher their willingness to pay and the better their retention. I wouldn't charge for the integrations, but I'd use this as a tool to get people hooked in and paying more or buying different add-ons.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

Pricing strategies for different industries

Pricing strategies are not one size fits all. Finding the proper pricing strategy is dependent on your industry, as well as your company's unique objectives. But to give you an idea, we've listed a couple of industries and strategies that are well suited for each other. 

SaaS/Subscriptions

For SaaS and subscription-based businesses, value-based pricing is the winner hands down. As long as your customers are willing to pay, you can charge much more than your competitors.  Because your price is based on how much customers will spend, it isn't artificially lowered like other methods that fail to account for that. 

We also like value-based pricing for B2B companies. Value-based pricing requires you to look outward and understand your customers better. This is good for finding the optimal price, but it's also good for building optimal relationships that will also help grow your company. 

No more price guessing, just pricing that works

Accurately pricing your product for maximum growth requires a lot of market research and even more expertise on how to conduct and analyze that research. Our Price Intelligently  service combines our years of experience in the field with powerful machine learning tools to understand your target customer base and what makes them tick. We know the data to collect, the questions to ask, and the people to ask them of. This is important because businesses in different stages of growth need different strategies for evaluating pricing. Additionally, every business has a unique set of potential selling points and a unique target audience to pitch to.

You need someone in your corner who knows how to evaluate pricing options for your specific businesses. With our help, you can be confident that your pricing strategy and chosen price points will unlock growth levers at your company that have been sitting idle, because they'll be tailored to finding and maximizing the value propositions that are unique to your business. 

Book your free pricing audit: get actionable tips and resources to improve your pricing strategy

Take the headache out of growing your software business

We handle your payments, tax, subscription management and more, so you can focus on growing your software and subscription business.

Which pricing strategy is best? 

This depends on your business model. For SaaS and subscription companies, as well as many others, we recommend value-based pricing.

How do you determine the selling prices of a product?

First, find a pricing strategy that fits well with your business model and product. As you've seen, pricing strategies differ, but they all give clear instructions for how to use them to set prices.

What is the simplest pricing strategy?

Since you only need to add up the cost to make your product and add a percentage to it, cost-plus pricing is the simplest form of pricing to use.

What is a pricing curve?

A pricing curve is a graph that shows you the number of people who are willing to pay a given price for a product.

What are the 4 major pricing strategies?

Value-based,  competition-based , cost-plus, and  dynamic pricing are all models  that are used frequently, depending on the industry and business model in question.

Navigating PLG billing and pricing?

Read our latest guide on product-led SaaS

Related reading

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

Pricing Strategies and Models Explained

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4 min. read

Updated January 18, 2024

What’s the right price for your product or service?

What price will make you profitable and attract customers?

Not sure? Keep reading to learn the basics of pricing strategy and setting the right price.

  • What is a pricing strategy?

A pricing strategy is the overarching approach or plan a business uses to determine the price of its products or services. 

It considers various factors such as market conditions, competition, production costs, and the perceived value to the customer. The ultimate goal of a pricing strategy is to maximize profitability, maintain or grow market share, and ensure long-term sustainability while meeting the company’s other objectives.

  • What is a pricing model?

A pricing model is the specific method used to set the price of a product or service. It provides a structure to implement your chosen pricing strategy.

What’s the difference?

The distinction between a pricing strategy and a pricing model lies in their scope, purpose, and application.

The pricing strategy aligns prices with business objectives, market conditions, and customer perceptions. A pricing strategy considers market entry tactics, customer psychology, brand positioning, and long-term market objectives. 

The pricing model is the mathematical method you use to create a specific price. It usually involves manufacturing costs, customer demand, and competitor pricing. 

Think of the strategy as the roadmap guiding where a company wants to go with its pricing and the model as the vehicle it uses to get there.

  • Types of pricing strategies

1. Penetration pricing

Setting an initial low price to quickly attract customers and establish a market presence. Ideal for new entrants wanting rapid market share. 

Example: Streaming services offering discounted rates for the first three months.

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2. Price skimming

Starting with a high price and then reducing it over time. Suitable for innovative products. 

Example: New tech gadgets like smartphones often use this strategy.

3. Value-based pricing

Pricing based on the perceived value to the customer rather than production costs. Works best for unique products or services. 

Example: Luxury brands like Rolex or Louis Vuitton.

4. Competitive pricing

Setting prices based on competitor rates. Ideal for industries with many competitors offering similar products. 

Example: Supermarkets pricing staple goods.

5. Premium pricing

Charging a higher price to reflect a product’s premium status and quality. 

Example: Brands like Apple or Tesla.

6. Economy pricing

Offering no-frills products at a low price. Common in mass markets. 

Example: Budget airlines like Ryanair.

7. Bundle pricing

Grouping multiple products together at a discounted rate. Useful for increasing sales volume. 

Example: Cable TV packages.

8. Price leadership

Price leadership occurs when one dominant company, usually the largest or most influential in an industry, sets the price of a product or service, and other competitors in the market follow suit.

Example:  

OPEC often influences global oil prices by adjusting its production levels. 

9. Preemptive pricing

Intended to drive away competition or deter others from entering the marketplace by deliberately selling at below market prices (temporarily, of course).

Amazon launching the Kindle with e-books priced below typical hardcover prices. 

  • Types of pricing models

1. Cost-plus pricing

Calculating the cost of production and adding a fixed gross margin. Common in retail. 

Example: A shirt that costs $20 to make might be sold for $40.

2. Geographic pricing

Adjusting prices based on location or region. 

Example: A software product priced differently for the U.S. versus India.

3. Dynamic pricing model

Prices change based on real-time factors. 

Example: Uber’s surge pricing during high demand.

4. Tiered pricing model

Different prices for varying levels of product features. See an example of how tiers and introductory pricing can be used to introduce and grow your business.

Example: Software packages with Basic, Pro, and Premium tiers.

5. Freemium model

Basic services are free, with charges for advanced features. 

Example: Spotify offers free music streaming but charges for an ad-free experience.

6. Subscription model

Recurring fee for product or service access. 

Example: Monthly Netflix subscriptions.

7. Pay-what-you-want model

Customers choose their price. Often seen in indie industries. 

Example: Some indie video games or music albums.

8. Volume-based pricing

Decreased price per unit with increased quantity. 

Example: Wholesale retailers like Costco.

9. License pricing model

One-time fee for product usage over a period. 

Example: Microsoft Office’s one-time purchase option.

10. High-low pricing model 

Products have a higher standard price but are frequently discounted. 

Example: Department stores having frequent sales.

  • How to choose your pricing strategy

Selecting a pricing strategy comes down to cost, goals, and customer perception. Here’s how:

1. Set business objectives

Define clear goals, such as maximizing profit, penetrating the market, establishing a premium brand image, or achieving specific revenue targets. Your pricing should align with these objectives.

2. Understand your costs

Consider both direct costs (like raw materials and labor) and expenses (such as rent and marketing). Factor in variable costs that change with production volume and expenses that remain constant. Determine the break-even point to identify the minimum price needed to cover all expenses.

3. Analyze the competition

Research competitor prices and understand their value propositions. Identify their market positioning, whether premium or budget and observe any historical pricing trends or changes to gauge market reactions.

4. Know your audience

Understand your target audience’s demographics and what they value in a product. Gauge their price sensitivity and gather feedback on pricing preferences to ensure your price resonates with them.

5. Test and adjust

Before a broad rollout, test the new pricing on a segment of your audience. Refine your pricing based on customer input.

  • More on pricing products and services

Check out our other startup pricing resources to turn your pricing strategy into profitable steps for your business.

  • How to price your products
  • How to price your services
  • Mistakes to avoid when setting prices

Clarify your ideas and understand how to start your business with LivePlan

Content Author: Kody Wirth

Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

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5 Chapter 5 – The Business Plan

Developing your strategy.

As mentioned in Chapter 2 , it is critically important for any business organization to be able to accurately understand and identify what constitutes customer value. To do this, one must have a clear idea of who your customers are or will be. However, simply identifying customer value is insufficient. An organization must be able to provide customer value within several important constraints. One of these constraints deals with the competition—what offerings are available and at what price. Also, what additional services might a company provide? A second critically important constraint is the availability of resources to the business organization. Resources consist of factors such as money, facilities, equipment, operational capability, and personnel.

Here is an example: a restaurant identified its prime customer base as being upscale clientele in the business section of a major city. The restaurant recognized that it has numerous competitors that are interested in providing the same clientele with an upscale dining experience. Our example restaurant might provide a five-course, five-star gourmet meal to its customers. It also provides superlative service. If a comparable restaurant failed to provide a comparable meal than the example restaurant, the example restaurant would have a competitive advantage. If the example restaurant offered these sumptuous meals for a relatively low price in comparison to its competitors, it would initially seem to have even more of an advantage. However, if the price charged is significantly less than the cost of providing the meal, the service in this situation could not be maintained. In fact, the restaurant inevitably would have to go out of business. Providing excellent customer service may be a necessary condition for business survival but, in and of itself, it is not a sufficient condition.

So how does one go about balancing the need to provide customer value within the resources available while always maintaining a watchful eye on competitors’ actions? We are going to argue that what is required for that firm is to have a strategy .

The word strategy is derived from the Greek word strategos , which roughly translates into the art of the general, namely a military leader. Generals are responsible for marshaling required resources and organizing the troops and the basic plan of attack. Much in the same way, executives as owners of businesses are expected to have a general idea of the desired outcomes, acquire resources, hire and train personnel, and generate plans to achieve those outcomes. In this sense, all businesses, large and small, have strategies, whether they are clearly written out in formal business plans or reside in the mind of the owner of the business.

There are many different formal definitions of strategy with respect to business. The following is a partial listing of some of the definitions given by key experts in the field:

“A strategy is a pattern of objectives, purposes or goals and the major policies and plans for achieving these goals, stated in such a way as to define what business the company is in or is to be in and the kind of company it is or to be .” [1] “The determination of the long-run goals and objectives of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals .” [2] “What business strategy is all about, in a word, is competitive advantage .” [3]

We define the strategy of a business as follows: A firm’s strategy is the path by which it seeks to provide its customers with value, given the competitive environment and within the constraints of the resources available to the firm.

Whatever definition of strategy is used, it is often difficult to separate it from two other terms: strategic planning and strategic management. Both terms are often perceived as being in the domain of large corporations, not necessarily small to midsize businesses. This is somewhat understandable. The origin of strategic planning as a separate discipline occurred over fifty years ago. It was mainly concerned with assisting huge multidivisional or global businesses in coordinating their activities. In the intervening half-century, strategic planning has produced a vast quantity of literature. Mintzberg, Lampel, Ahlstrand, in a highly critical review of the field, identified ten separate schools associated with strategic planning. [4] With that number of different schools, it is clear that the discipline has not arrived at a common consensus. Strategic planning has been seen as a series of techniques and tools that would enable organizations to achieve their specified goals and objectives. Strategic management was seen as the organizational mechanisms by which you would implement the strategic plan. Some of the models and approaches associated with strategic planning and strategic management became quite complex and would prove to be fairly cumbersome to implement in all but the largest businesses. Further, strategic planning often became a bureaucratic exercise where people filled out forms, attended meetings, and went through the motions to produce a document known as the strategic plan. Sometimes what is missed in this discussion was a key element—strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is the creative analysis of the competitive landscape and a deep understanding of customer value. It should be the driver (see “Strategy Troika”) of the entire process. This concept is often forgotten in large bureaucratic organizations.

Strategy Troika

Strategy Troika - Strategic management, strategic planning, and strategic thought

Strategic thinkers often break commonly understood principles to reach their goals. This is most clearly seen among military leaders, such as Alexander the Great or Hannibal. Robert E. Lee often violated basic military principles, such as dividing his forces. General Douglas MacArthur shocked the North Koreans with his bold landings behind enemy lines at Inchon. This mental flexibility also exists in great business leaders.

Solomon and Friedman recounted a prime example of true strategic thinking. [5] Wilson Harrell took a small, closely held, cleaning spray company known as Formula 409 to the point of having national distribution. In 1967, the position that Formula 409 held was threatened by the possible entry of Procter & Gamble into the same spray cleaning market. Procter & Gamble was a huge consumer products producer, noted for its marketing savvy. Procter & Gamble began a program of extensive market research to promote its comparable product they called Cinch. Clearly, the larger firm had a much greater advantage. Harrell knew that Procter & Gamble would perform test market research. He decided to do the unexpected. Rather than directly confront this much larger competitor, he began a program where he reduced advertising expenditures in Denver and stopped promoting his Formula 409. The outcome was that Procter & Gamble had spectacular results, and the company was extremely excited with the potential for Cinch. Procter & Gamble immediately begin a national sales campaign. However, before the company could begin, Harrell introduced a promotion of his own. He took the Formula 409 sixteen-ounce bottle and attached it to a half-gallon size bottle. He then sold both at a significant discount. This quantity of spray cleaner would last the average consumer six to nine months. The market for Procter & Gamble’s Cinch was significantly reduced. Procter & Gamble was confused and confounded by its poor showing after the phenomenal showing in Denver. Confused and uncertain, the company chose to withdraw Cinch from the market. Wilson Harrell’s display of brilliant strategic thinking had bested them. He leveraged his small company’s creative thinking and flexibility against the tremendous resources of an international giant. Through superior strategic thinking, Harrell was able to best Procter & Gamble.

Do You Have a Strategy and What Is It?

We have argued that all businesses have strategies, whether they are explicitly articulated or not. Perry stated that “small business leaders seem to recognize that the ability to formulate and implement an effective strategy has a major influence on the survival and success of small business.” [6]

The extent to which a strategy should be articulated in a formal manner, such as part of a business plan, is highly dependent on the type of business. One might not expect a formally drafted strategy statement for a nonemployee business funded singularly by the owner. One researcher found that formal plans are rare in businesses with fewer than five employees. [7] However, you should clearly have that expectation for any other type of small or midsize business.

Any business with employees should have an articulated strategy that can be conveyed to them so that they might better assist in implementing it. Curtis pointed out that in the absence of such communication, “employees make pragmatic short-term decisions that cumulatively form an ad-hoc strategy.” [8] These ad hoc (realized) strategies may be at odds with the planned (intended) strategies to guide a firm. [9] However, any business that seeks external funding from bankers, venture capitalists, or “angels” must be able to specify its strategy in a formal business plan.

Clearly specifying your strategy should be seen as an end in itself. Requiring a company to specify its strategy forces that company to think about its core issues, such as the following:

  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you going to provide value to those customers?
  • Who are your current and future competitors?
  • What are your resources?
  • How are you going to use these resources?

One commentator in a blog put it fairly well, “It never ceases to amaze me how many people will use GPS or Google maps for a trip somewhere but when it comes to starting a business they think that they can do it without any strategy, or without any guiding road-map.” Harry Tucci, comment posted to the following blog: [10]

Types of Strategies

In 1980, Michael Porter a professor at Harvard Business School published a major work in the field of strategic analysis— Competitive Strategy . [11] To simplify Porter’s thesis, while competition is beneficial to customers, it is not always beneficial to those who are competing. Competition may involve lowering prices, increasing research and development (R&D), and increasing advertising and other expenses and activities—all of which can lower profit margins. Porter suggested that firms should carefully examine the industry in which they are operating and apply what he calls the five forces model. These five forces are as follows: the power of suppliers, the power of buyers, the threat of substitution, the threat of new entrants, and rivalry within the industry. We do not need to cover these five forces in any great detail, other than to say that once the analysis has been conducted, a firm should look for ways to minimize the dysfunctional consequences of competition. Porter identified four generic strategies that firms may choose to implement to achieve that end. Actually, he initially identified three generic strategies, but one of them can be bifurcated. These four strategies are as follows (see “Generic Strategies”): cost leadership, differentiation, cost focus, and differentiation focus. These four generic strategies can be applied to small businesses. We will examine each strategy and then discuss what is required to successfully implement them.

Generic Strategies

Generic Strategies Diagram - Cost Leadership, Differentiation, Cost Focus, Differentiation Focus

Low-Cost Advantage

A  cost leadership strategy requires that a firm be in the position of being the lowest cost producer in its competitive environment. By being the lowest-cost producer, a firm has several strategic options open to it. It can sell its product or service at a lower price than its competitors. If price is a major driver of customer value, then the firm with the lowest price should sell more. The low-cost producer also has the option of selling its products or services at prices that are comparable to its competitors. However, this would mean that the firm would have a much higher margin than its competitors.

Obviously, following a cost leadership strategy dictates that the business be good at curtailing costs. Perhaps the clearest example of a firm that employs a cost leadership strategy is Walmart. Walmart’s investment in customer relations and inventory control systems plus its huge size enables it to secure the “best” deals from suppliers and drastically reduce costs. It might appear that cost leadership strategies are most suitable for large firms that can exploit economies of scale. This is not necessarily true. Smaller firms can compete on the basis of cost leadership. They can position themselves in low-cost areas, and they can exploit their lower overhead costs. Family businesses can use family members as employees, or they can use a web presence to market and sell their goods and services. A small family-run luncheonette that purchases used equipment and offers a limited menu of standard breakfast and lunch items while not offering dinner might be good example of a small business that has opted for a cost leadership strategy.

Differentiation

A  differentiation strategy involves providing products or services that meet customer value in some unique way. This uniqueness may be derived in several ways. A firm may try to build a particular brand image that differentiates itself from its competitors. Many clothing lines, such as Tommy Hilfiger, opt for this approach. Other firms will try to differentiate themselves on the basis of the services that they provide. Dominoes began to distinguish itself from other pizza firms by emphasizing the speed of its delivery. Differentiation also can be achieved by offering a unique design or features in the product or the service. Apple products are known for their user-friendly design features. A firm may wish to differentiate itself on the basis of the quality of its product or service. Kogi barbecue trucks operating in Los Angeles represent such an approach. They offer high-quality food from mobile food trucks.” [12] They further facilitate their differentiation by having their truck routes available on their website and on their Twitter account.

Adopting a differentiation strategy requires significantly different capabilities than those that were outlined for cost leadership. Firms that employ a differentiation strategy must have a complete understanding of what constitutes customer value. Further, they must be able to rapidly respond to changing customer needs. Often, a differentiation strategy involves offering these products and services at a premium price. A differentiation strategy may accept lower sales volumes because a firm is charging higher prices and obtaining higher profit margins. A danger in this approach is that customers may no longer place a premium value on the unique features or quality of the product or the service. This leaves the firm that offers a differentiation strategy open to competition from those that adopt a cost leadership strategy.

Focus—Low Cost or Differentiation

Porter identifies the third strategy—focus. He said that focus strategies can be segmented into a  cost focus and a differentiation focus .

In a focus strategy, a firm concentrates on one or more segments of the overall market. Focus can also be described as a niche strategy. Focus strategy entails deciding to some extent that we do not want to have everyone as a customer. There are several ways that a firm can adopt a focus perspective:

  • Product line. A firm limits its product line to specific items of only one or more product types. California Cart Builder produces only catering trucks and mobile kitchens.
  • Customer. A firm concentrates on serving the needs of a particular type of customer. Weight Watchers concentrates on customers who wish to control their weight or lose weight.
  • Geographic area. Many small firms, out of necessity, will limit themselves to a particular geographic region. Microbrewers generally serve a limited geographic region.
  • Particular distribution channel. Firms may wish to limit themselves with respect to the means by which they sell their products and services. Amazon began and remains a firm that sells only through the Internet.

Firms adopting focus strategies look for distinct groups that may have been overlooked by their competitors. This group needs to be of sufficiently sustainable size to make it an economically defensible option. One might open a specialty restaurant in a particular geographic location—a small town. However, if the demand is not sufficiently large for this particular type of food, then the restaurant will probably fail. Companies that lack the resources to compete on either a national level or an industry-wide level may adopt focus strategies. Focus strategies enable firms to marshal their limited resources to best serve their customers.

As previously stated, focus strategies can be bifurcated into two directions—cost focus or differentiation focus. IKEA sells low-priced furniture to those customers who are willing to assemble the furniture. It cuts its costs by using a warehouse rather than showroom format and not providing home delivery. Michael Dell began his business out of his college dormitory. He took orders from fellow students and custom-built computers to their specifications. This was a cost focus strategy. By building to order, it almost totally eliminated the need for any incoming, work-in-process, or finished goods inventories.

A focus differentiation strategy concentrates on providing a unique product or service to a segment of the market. This strategy may be best represented by many specialty retail outlets. The Body Shop focuses on customers who want natural ingredients in their makeup. Max and Mina is a kosher specialty ice cream store in New York City. It provides a constantly rotating menu of more than 300 exotic flavors, such as Cajun, beer, lox, corn, and pizza. The store has been written up in the New York Times and People magazine. Given its odd flavors, Max and Mina’s was voted the number one ice cream parlor in America in 2004. [13]

Evaluating Strategies

The selection of a generic strategy by a firm should not be seen as something to be done on a whim. Once a strategy is selected, all aspects of the business must be tied to implementing that strategy. As Porter stated, “Effectively implementing any of these generic strategies usually requires total commitment and supporting organizational arrangements.” [14] The successful implementation of any generic strategy requires that a firm possess particular skills and resources. Further, it must impose particular requirements on its organization (see “Summary of Generic Strategies”).

Even successful generic strategies must recognize that market and economic conditions change along with the needs of consumers. Henry Ford used a cost leadership strategy and was wildly successful until General Motors began to provide different types of automobiles to different customer segments. Likewise, those who follow a differentiation strategy must be cautious that customers may forgo “extras” in a downturn economy in favor of lower costs. This requires businesses to be vigilant, particularly with respect to customer value.

Summary of Generic Strategies

Key Takeaways

  • Any firm, regardless of size, needs to know how it will compete; this is the firm’s strategy.
  • Strategy identifies how a firm will provide value to its customers within its operational constraints.
  • Strategy can be reduced to four major approaches—cost leadership, differentiation, cost focus, and differentiation focus.
  • Once a given strategy is selected, all of a firm’s operations should be geared to implementing that strategy.
  • No strategy will be successful forever and therefore needs to be constantly evaluated.

The Necessity for a Business Plan

An intelligent plan is the first step to success. The man who plans knows where he is going, knows what progress he is making and has a pretty good idea of when he will arrive. Planning is the open road to your destination. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you expect to get there? – Basil Walsh

In Chapter 1, we discussed the issue of failure and small businesses. Although research on small business failure has identified many factors, one reason that always appears at the top of any list is the failure to plan. Interestingly, some people argue that planning is not essential for a start-up business, but they are in a distinct minority. [15] The overwhelming consensus is that a well-developed plan is essential for the survival of any small (or large) business. [16] Perry found that firms with more than five people benefit from having a well-developed business plan. [17]

A recent study found that there was a near doubling of successful growth for those businesses that completed business plans compared to those that did not create one. It must be pointed out that this study might be viewed as being biased because the founder of the software company whose main product is a program that builds business plans conducted the study. However, the results were examined by academics from the University of Oregon who validated the overall results. They found that “except in a small number of cases, business planning appeared to be positively correlated with business success as measured by our variables. While our analysis cannot say the completing of a business plan will lead to success, it does indicate that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business plan is also more likely to produce a successful business.” [18]

Basically, there are two main reasons for developing a comprehensive business plan: (1) a plan will be extraordinarily useful in ensuring the successful operation of your business; and (2) if one is seeking to secure external funds from banks, venture capitalists, or other investors, it is essential that you be able to demonstrate to them that they will be recovering their money and making a profit. Let us examine each reason in detail.

Many small business owners operate under a mistaken belief that the only time that they need to create a business plan is at the birth of the company or when they are attempting to raise additional capital from external sources. They fail to realize that a business plan can be an important element in ensuring day-to-day success.

The initial planning process aids the operational success of a small business by allowing the owner a chance to review, in detail, the viability of the business idea. It forces one to rigorously consider some key questions:

  • Is the business strategy feasible?
  • What are the chances it will make money?
  • Do I have the operational requirements for starting and running a successful business?
  • Have I considered a well-thought-out marketing plan that clearly identifies who my customers will be?
  • Do I clearly understand what value I will provide to these customers?
  • What will be the means of distribution to provide the product or the service to my customers?
  • Have I clarified to myself the financial issues associated with starting and operating the business?
  • Do I have to reexamine these notions to ensure success?

Possessing an actual written plan enables you to have people outside the organization evaluate your business plan. Using friends, colleagues, partners, or even consultants may provide you with an unbiased evaluation of the assumptions.

It is not enough to create an initial business plan; you should anticipate making the planning process an annual activity. The Prussian military theorist von Moltke once argued that no military plan survives the first engagement with the enemy. Likewise, no company evolves in the same way as outlined in its initial business plan.

Overcoming the Reluctance to Formally Plan

By failing to prepare, you will prepare them to fail . -Benjamin Franklin

Unfortunately, it appears that many small businesses do not make any effort to build even an initial business plan, let alone maintain a planning process as an ongoing operation, even though there is clear evidence that the failure to plan may have serious consequences for the future success of such firms. This unwillingness to plan may be understandable in nonemployee businesses, but it is inexcusable as a business grows in size. Why, therefore, do some businesses fail to begin the planning process?

  • We do not need to plan. One of the prime reasons individuals fail to produce a business plan is that they believe that they do not have to plan. This may be attributable to the size of the firm; nonemployee firms that have no intention of seeking outside financing might sincerely believe that they have no need for a formal business plan. Others may believe that they so well understand the business and/or industry that they can survive and prosper without the burdensome process of a business plan. The author of Business Plan for Dummies , Paul Tiffany, once argued that if one feels lucky enough to operate a business successfully without resorting to a business plan, then he or she should forget about starting a business and head straight to Las Vegas.
  • I am too busy to plan. Anyone who has ever run a business on his or her own can understand this argument. The day-to-day demands of operating a business may make it seem that there is insufficient time to engage in any ancillary activity or prepare a business plan. Individuals who accept this argument often fail to recognize that the seemingly endless buzz of activities, such as constantly putting out fires, may be the direct result of not having thought about the future and planned for it in the first place.
  • Plans do not produce results. Small-business owners (entrepreneurs) are action- and results-oriented individuals. They want to see a tangible outcome for their efforts, and preferably they would like to see the results as soon as possible. The idea of sitting down and producing a large document based on assumptions that may not play out exactly as predicted is viewed as a futile exercise. However, those with broader experience understand that there will be no external funding for growth or the initial creation of the business without the existence of a well-thought-out plan. Although plans may not yield the specified results contained within them, the process of thinking about the plan and building it often yield results that the owner might not initially appreciate.
  • We are not familiar with the process of formal planning. This argument might initially appear to have more validity than the others. Developing a comprehensive business plan is a daunting task. It might seem difficult if not impossible for someone with no experience with the concept. Several studies have indicated that small business owners are more likely to engage in the planning process if they have had prior experience with planning models in their prior work experience. [19] Fortunately, this situation has changed rather significantly in the last decade. As we will illustrate, there are numerous tools that provide significant support for the development of business plans. We will see that software packages greatly facilitate the building of any business plan, including marketing plans and financial plans for small businesses. We also show that the Internet can provide an unbelievably rich source of data and information to assist in the building of these plans.

Although one could understand the reticence of someone new to small business (or in some cases even seasoned entrepreneurs), their arguments fall short with respect to the benefits that will be derived from conducting a structured and comprehensive business planning process.

Plans for Raising Capital

Every business plan should be written with a particular audience in mind. The annual business plan should be written with a management team and for the employees who have to implement the plan. However, one of the prime reasons for writing a business plan is to secure investment funds for the firm. Of course, funding the business could be done by an individual using his or her own personal wealth, personal loans, or extending credit cards. Individuals also can seek investments from family and friends. The focus here will be on three other possible sources of capital—banks, venture capitalists, and angel investors. It is important to understand what they look for in a business plan. Remember that these three groups are investors, so they will be anticipating, at the very least, the ability to recover their initial investment if not earn a significant return.

Bankers, like all businesspeople, are interested in earning a profit; they want to see a return on their investment. However, unlike other investors, bankers are under a legal obligation to ensure that the borrower pledge some form of collateral to secure the loan. [20] This often means that banks are unwilling to fund a start-up business unless the owner is willing to pledge some form of collateral, such as a second mortgage on his or her home. Many first-time business owners are not in a position to do that; securing money from a bank occurs most frequently for an existing business that is looking to expand or for covering a short-term cash-flow need. Banks may lend to small business owners who are opening a second business provided that they can prove a record of success and profitability.

Banks will require a business plan. It should be understood that bank loan officers will initially focus on the financial components of that client, namely, the income statement, balance sheet, and the cash-flow statement. The bank will examine your projections with respect to known industry standards. Therefore, the business plan should not project a 75 percent profit margin when the industry standard is 15 percent, unless the author of the plan can clearly document why he or she will be earning such a high return.

Some businesses may raise funds with the assistance of a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. These loans are always arranged through a commercial bank. With these loans, the SBA will pledge up to 70 percent of the total value of the loan. This means that the owner still must provide, at the very least, 30 percent of the total collateral. The ability to secure one of these loans is clearly tied to the adequacy of the business plan.

Venture Capitalists

Another possible source of funding is venture capitalists . The first thing that one should realize about venture capitalists is that they are not in it just to make a profit; they want to make returns that are substantially above those to be found in the market. For some, this translates into the ability to secure five to ten times their initial investment and recapture their investment in a relatively short period of time—often less than five years. It has been reported that some venture capitalists are looking for returns in the order of twenty-five times their original investment. [21]

The financial statement, particularly the profit margin, is obviously important to venture capitalists, but they will also be looking at other factors. The quality of the management team identified in the business plan will be examined. They will be looking at the team’s experience and track record. Other factors needed by venture capitalists may include the projected growth rate of the market, the extent to which the product or the service being offered is unique, the overall size of the market, and the probability of producing a highly successful product or service.

Businesses that are seeking financing from banks know that they must go to loan officers who will review the plan, even though a computerized loan assessment program may make the final decision. With venture capitalists, on the other hand, you often need to have a personal introduction to have your plan considered. You should also anticipate that you will have to make a presentation to venture capitalists. This means that you have to understand your plan and be able to present it in a dynamic fashion.

Angel Investors

The third type of investor is referred to as angel investors , a term that originally came from those individuals who invested in Broadway shows and films. Many angel investors are themselves successful entrepreneurs. As with venture capitalists, they are looking for returns higher than they can normally find in the market; however, they often expect returns lower than those anticipated by venture capitalist. They may be attracted to business plans because of an innovative concept or the excitement of entering a new type of business. Being successful small business owners, many angel investors will not only provide capital to fund the business but also bring their own expertise and experience to help the business grow. It has been estimated that these angel investors provide between three and ten times as much money as venture capitalists for the development of small businesses. [22]

Angel investors will pay careful attention to all aspects of the proposed business plan. They expect a comprehensive business plan—one that clearly specifies the future direction of the firm. They also will look at the management team not only for its track record and experience but also their (the angel investor’s) ability to work with this team. Angel investors may take a much more active role in the management of the business, asking for positions on the board of directors, taking an equity position in the firm, demanding quarterly reports, or demanding that the business not take certain actions unless it has the approval of these angel investors. These investors will take a much more hands-on approach to the operations of a firm.

  • Planning is a critical and important component of ensuring the success of a small business.
  • Some form of formal planning should not only accompany the start-up of a business but also be a regular (annual) activity that guides the future direction of the business.
  • Many small business owners are reluctant to formally plan. They can produce many excuses for not planning.
  • Businesses may have to raise capital from external sources—bankers, venture capitalists, or angel investors. Each type of investor will expect a business plan. Each type of investor will be more or less interested in different parts of the plan. Business owners should be aware of what parts of the plan each type of investor will focus on.

Building a Plan

Before talking about writing a formal business plan, someone interested in starting a business might want to think about doing some personal planning before drafting the business plan. Some of the questions that he or she might want to answer before drafting a full business plan are as follows:

  • Why am I going into this business?
  • What skills and resources do I possess that will help make the business a success?
  • What passion do I bring to this business?
  • What is my risk tolerance?
  • Exactly how hard do I intend to work? How many hours per week?
  • What impact will the business have on my family life?

What do I really wish from this business?

  • Am I interested in financial independence?
  • What level of profits will be required to maintain my personal and/or family’s lifestyle?
  • Am I interested in independence of action (no boss but myself)?
  • Am I interested in personal satisfaction?
  • Will my family be working in this business?
  • What other employees might I need? [23]

Having addressed these questions, one will be in a much better position to craft a formal business plan.

Gathering Information

Building a solid business plan requires knowing the economic, market, and competitive environments. Such knowledge transcends “gut feelings” and is based on data and evidence. Fortunately, much of the required information is available through library resources, Internet sources, and government agencies and, for a fee, from commercial sources. Comprehensive business plans may draw from all these sources.

Public libraries and those at educational institutions provide a rich resource base that can be used at no cost. Some basic research sources that can be found at libraries are given in this section— be aware that the reference numbers provided may differ from library to library .

Library Sources

Background sources.

  • Berinstein, Paula. Business Statistics on the Web: Find Them Fast—At Little or No Cost (Ref HF1016 .B47 2003).
  • The Core Business Web: A Guide to Information Resources (Ref HD30.37 .C67 2003).
  • Frumkin, Norman. Guide to Economic Indicators , 4th ed. (Ref HC103 .F9 2006). This book explains the meanings and uses of the economic indicators.
  • Solie-Johnson, Kris. How to Set Up Your Own Small Business , 2 volumes (Ref HD62.7 .S85 2005). Published by the American Institute of Small Business.

Company and Industry Sources

  • North American Industry Classification System, United States (NAICS), 2007 (Ref HF1042 .N6 2007). The NAICS is a numeric industry classification system that replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. An electronic version is available from the US Census Bureau .
  • Standard Industrial Classification Manual (Ref HA40 .I6U63 1987). The industry classification system that preceded the NAICS.
  • Value Line Investment Survey (Ref HG4751 .V18). Concise company and industry profiles are updated every thirteen weeks.

Statistical Sources

  • Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios (Ref HF5681 .R25A45 2010).
  • Business Statistics of the United States (Ref HC101 .A13123 2009). This publication provides recent and historical information about the US economy.
  • Economic Indicators (1971–present). The Council of Economic Advisers for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress publishes this monthly periodical; recent years are in electronic format only. Ten years of data are presented. Electronic versions are available in ABI/INFORM and ProQuest from September 1994 to present and Academic OneFile from October 1, 1991.
  • Industry Norms and Key Business Ratios (Dun & Bradstreet; Ref HF5681 .R25I532 through Ref HF5681 .I572 [2000–2001 through 2008–2009]).
  • Rma Annual Statement Studies (Ref HF5681 .B2R6 2009–2010). This publication provides annual financial data and ratios by industry.
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States (Ref HA202 .S72 2010). This is the basic annual source for statistics collected by the government. Electronic version is available at www.census.gov/compendia/statstatab .
  • Survey of Current Business (1956–present). The Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes this monthly periodical; recent years are in electronic format only.

At some libraries, you may find access to the following resources online:

  • Mergent Webreports. Mergent (formerly Moody’s) corporate manuals are in digitized format. Beginning with the early 1900s, the reports include corporate history, business descriptions, and in-depth financial statements. The collection is searchable by company name, year, or manual type.
  • ProQuest Direct is a database of general, trade, and scholarly periodicals, with many articles in full text. Many business journals and other resources are available.
  • Standard and Poor’s Netadvantage is a database that includes company and industry information.

Internet Resources

In addition to government databases and other free sources, the Internet provides an unbelievably rich storehouse of information that can be incorporated into any business plan. It is not feasible to provide a truly comprehensive list of useful websites; this section provides a highly selective list of government sites and other sites that provide free information.

Government Sites

  • US Small Business Administration (SBA) . This is an excellent site to begin researching a business plan. It covers writing a plan, financing a start-up, selecting a location, managing employees, and insurance and legal issues. A follow-up page at http://www.sba.gov provides access to publications, statistics, video tutorials, podcasts, business forms, and chat rooms. Another page— http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-list/2 —provides access to localized resources.
  • SCORE Program . The SCORE program is a partner of the SBA. It provides a variety of services to small business owners, ranging from online (and in-person) mentoring, workshops, free computer templates, and advice on a wide range of small business issues.

In developing a business plan, it is necessary to anticipate the future economic environment. The government provides extensive statistics online.

  • Consumer Price Index . This index provides information on the direction of prices for industries and geographic areas.
  • Producer Price Index . Businesses that provide services or are focused on business-to-business (B2B) operations may find these data more appropriate for estimating future prices.
  • National Wage Data . This site provides information on prevailing wages and can be broken down by occupation and location down to the metropolitan area.
  • Consumer Expenditures Survey . This database provides information on expenditures and income. It allows for a remarkable level of refinement by occupation, age, or race.
  • State and Local Personal Income and Employment . These databases provide a breakdown of personal income by state and metropolitan area.
  • GDP by State and Metropolitan Region . This will provide an accurate guide to the overall economic health of a region or a city.
  • US Census . This is a huge site with databases on population, income, foreign trade, economic indicators, and business ownership.

There are nongovernment websites, either free or charging a fee, that can provide assistance in building a business plan. A simple Google search for the phrase small business plan yields more than 67 million results. Various sites will either help with writing the plan, offer to write the plan for a fee, produce reports on industries, or assist small businesses by providing a variety of support services. The Internet offers a veritable cornucopia of information and support for those working on their business plans.

Forecasting for the Plan

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. Nils Bohr, Nobel Prize winner

Any business plan is a future-oriented document. Business plans are required to look between three and five years into the future. To produce them and accurately forecast sales, you will need estimates of expenses and other items, such as the required number of employees, interest rates, and general economic conditions. There are many different techniques and tools that can be used to forecast these items. The type of techniques used will be influenced by many factors, such as the following:

  • The size of the business. Smaller businesses may have fewer resources to apply a wide variety of forecasting techniques.
  • The analytical sophistication of people who will be conducting the forecast. The owner of a home business may have no prior experience with forecasting techniques.
  • The type of the organization. A manufacturing concern that sells to a stable and relatively predictable environment that has been in existence for years might be able to employ a variety of standard statistical forecasting techniques; however, a small firm operating in a new or a chaotic environment might have to rely on significantly different techniques.
  • Historical records. Does the firm have historical records for sales that can be used to project into the future?

There is no universal set of forecasting techniques that can be used for all types of small and midsize businesses. Forecasting can fall into a fairly comprehensive range of techniques with respect to level of sophistication. Some forecasting can be done on an intuitive basis (e.g., back-of-the-envelope calculations); others can be done with standard computer programs (e.g., Excel) or programs that are specifically dedicated to forecasting in a variety of environments.

A brief review of basic forecasting techniques shows that they can be divided into two broad classes:  qualitative forecasting methods and quantitative forecasting methods . Actually, these terms can be somewhat misleading because qualitative forecasting methods do not imply that no numbers will be involved. The two techniques are separated by the following concept: qualitative forecasting methods assume that one either does not have historical data or that one cannot rely on past historical data. A start-up business has no past sales that can be used to project future sales. Likewise, if there is a significant change in the environment, one may feel uncomfortable using past data to project into the future. A restaurant operates in a small town that contains a large automobile factory. After the factory closes, the restaurant owner should anticipate that past sales will no longer be a useful guideline for projecting what sales might be in the next year or two because the owner has lost a number of customers who worked at the factory. Quantitative forecasting, on the other hand, consists of techniques and methods that assume you can use past data to make projections into the future.

“Overview of Forecasting Methods” provides examples of both qualitative forecasting methods and quantitative forecasting methods for sales forecasting. Each method is described, and their strengths and weaknesses are given.

Overview of Forecasting Methods

Forecasting key items such as sales is crucial in developing a good business plan. However, forecasting is a very challenging activity. The further out the forecast, the less likely it will be accurate. Everyone recognizes this fact. Therefore, it is useful to draw on a variety of forecasting techniques to develop your final forecast for the business plan. To do that, you should have a fairly solid understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches. There are many books, websites, and articles that could assist you in understanding these techniques and when they should or should not be used. In addition, one should be open to gathering additional information to assist in building a forecast. Some possible sources of such information would be associations, trade publications, and business groups. Regardless of what technique is used or the data source employed in building a forecast for business plan, one should be prepared to justify why you are employing these forecasting models.

Web Resources for Forecasting

  • Three methods of sales forecasting ( sbinfocanada.about.com/od/cashflowmgt/a/salesforecast.htm ). This site provides three simplified approaches to sales forecasting.
  • Time-critical decision making for business administration ( home.ubalt.edu/ntsbarsh/stat-data/forecast.htm ). This site has an e-book format with several chapters devoted to analytical forecasting techniques.

Building your first business plan may seem extremely formidable. This may explain why there are so many software packages available to assist in this task. After building your first business plan, that steep learning curve should make subsequent plans for the business or other businesses significantly easier.

In preparing to build a business plan, there are some problem areas or mistakes that you should be on guard to avoid. Some may be technical in nature, while others relate to content issues. For the technical side, first and foremost, one should make sure that there are no misspellings or punctuation errors. The business plan should follow a logical structure. No ideal business plan clearly specifies the exact sections that need to be included nor is there an ideal length. Literature concerning business plans indicates that the appropriate length of the body of a business plan line should be between twenty and forty pages. This does not include appendixes that might provide critical data for the reader.

In developing a lengthy report, sometimes it is easy to fall into clichés or overused expressions. These should be avoided. Consider the visuals in the report. Data should be placed in either clearly mapped-out tables or well-designed graphs. The report should be as professional-looking as possible. Anticipate the audience that will be reading the report and write in a way that easily reaches them; avoid using too much jargon or technical terms.

The content in any business plan centers on two areas: realism and accuracy.

Components of the Plan

There is no idealized structure for a business plan or a definitive number of sections that it must contain. The following subsections discuss the outline of a plan for a business start-up and identify some of the major sections that should be part of the plan.

The cover page provides the reader with information about either the author of the plan or the person to contact concerning the business plan. It should contain all the pertinent information to enable the reader to contact the author, such as the name of the business, the business logo, and the contact person’s address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

The table of contents enables the reader to find the major sections and components of the plan. It should identify the key sections and subsections and on which pages those sections begin. This enables the reader to turn to sections that might be of particular importance.

Executive Summary

The  executive summary is a section of critical importance and is perhaps the single most important section of the entire business plan. Quite often, it is the first section that a reader will turn to, and sometimes it may be the only section of the business plan that he or she will read. Chronologically, it should probably be the last section written. [24] The executive summary should provide an accurate overview of the entire document, which cannot be done until the whole document is prepared.

If the executive summary fails to adequately describe the idea behind the business or if it fails to do so in a captivating way, some readers may discard the entire business plan. As one author put it, the purpose of the executive summary is to convince the reader to “read on.” [25] The executive summary should contain the following pieces of information:

  • What is the company’s business?
  • Who are its intended customers?
  • What will be its legal structure?
  • What has been its history (where one exists)?
  • What type of funding will be requested?
  • What is the amount of that funding?
  • What are the capabilities of the key executives?

All this must be done in an interesting and captivating way. The great challenge is that executive summaries should be relatively short—between one and three pages. For many businesspeople, this is the great challenge—being able to compress the required information in an engaging format that has significant size limitations.

Business Section

Goals. These are broad statements about what you would like to achieve some point in the near future. Your goals might focus on your human resource policies (“We wish to have productive, happy employees”), on what you see as the source of your competitive advantage (“We will be best in service”), or on financial outcomes (“We will produce above average return to our investors.”) Goals are useful, but they can mean anything to anyone. It is therefore necessary to translate the goals into objectives to bring about real meaning so that they can guide the organization. Ideally, objectives should be SMART —specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and have a specific timeline for completion. Here is an example: one organizational goal may be a significant rise in sales and profits. When translating that goal into an objective, you might word the objectives as follows: a 15 percent increase in sales for the next three years followed by a 10 percent increase in sales for the following two years and a 12.5 percent increase in profits in each of the next five years. These objectives are quite specific and measurable. It is up to the decision-maker to determine if they are achievable and realistic. These objectives—sales and profits—clearly specify the time horizon. In developing the plan, owners are often very happy to develop goals because they are open to interpretation, but they will avoid objectives. Goals are sufficiently ambiguous, whereas objectives tie you to particular values that you will have to hit in the future. People may be concerned that they will be weighed on a scale and found wanting for failing to achieved their objectives. However, it is critical that your plan contains both goals and objectives. Objectives allow investors and your employees to clearly see where the firm intends to go. They produce targeted values to aim for and, therefore, are critical for the control of the firm’s operations.

Vision and Mission Statements. To many, there is some degree of confusion concerning the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement.  Vision statements articulate the long-term purpose and idealized notion of what a business wishes to become. In the earliest days of Microsoft, when it was a small business, its version of a vision statement was as follows: “A computer on every desk and in every home.” In the early 1980s, this was truly a revolutionary concept. Yet it gave Microsoft’s employees a clear idea (vision) that to bring that vision into being, the software being developed would have to be very “user-friendly” in comparison to the software of that day. Mission statements , which are much more common in small business plans, articulate the fundamental nature of the business. This means identifying the type of business, how it will leverage its competencies, and possibly the values that drive the business. Put simply, a mission statement should address the following questions:

  • Who are we? What business are we in?
  • Who do we see as our customers?
  • How do we provide value for those customers?

Sometimes vision and mission statements are singularly written for external audiences, such as investors or shareholders. They are not written for the audience for whom it would have the greatest meaning—the management team and the employees of the business. Unfortunately, many recognize that both statements can become exercises of stringing together a series of essentially meaningless phrases into something that appears to sound right or professional . You can find software on the web to automatically generate such vacuous and meaningless statements.

Sometimes a firm will write a mission statement that provides customers, investors, and employees with a clear sense of purpose of that company. Zappos has the following as its mission statement: “Our goal is to position Zappos as an online service leader. If we can get customers to associate Zappos as the absolute best in service, then we can expand beyond shoes.” [26] The mission statement of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream focuses both on defining their product and their values: “To make, distribute and sell the finest quality all-natural ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.” [27]

Keys to Success . This section identifies those specific elements of your firm that you believe will ensure success. It is important for you to be able to define the competencies that you intend to leverage to ensure success. What makes your product or service unique? What specific set of capabilities do you bring to the competitive scene? These might include the makeup of and the experience of your management team; your operational capabilities (e.g., unique skills in design, manufacturing, or delivery); your marketing skill sets: your financial capabilities (e.g., the ability to control costs); or the personnel that make up the company.

Industry Review

In this section, you want to provide a fairly comprehensive overview of the industry. A thorough understanding of the industry that you will be operating in is essential to understand the possible returns that your company will earn within that industry. Investors want to know if they will recover their initial investment. When will they see a profit? Remember, investors often carefully track industries and are well aware of the strengths and limitations within a particular industry. Investors are looking for industries that can demonstrate growth. They also want to see if the industry is structurally attractive. This might entail conducting Porter’s five forces analysis; however, this is not required in all cases. If there appear to be some issues or problems with industry-level growth, then you might want to be able to identify some segments of the industry where growth is viable.

Products or Services

This section should be an in-depth discussion of what you are offering to customers. It should provide a complete and clear statement of the products or the services that you are offering. It should also discuss the core competencies of your business. You should highlight what is unique, such as a novel product or service concept or the possession of patents. You need to show how your product or service specifically meets particular market needs. You must identify how the product or the service will satisfy specific customers’ needs. If you are dealing with a new product or service, you need to demonstrate what previously unidentified needs it will meet and how it will do so. At its birth, Amazon had to demonstrate that an online bookstore would be preferable to the standard bookstore by offering the customer a much wider selection of books than would be available at an on-site location.

This section could include a discussion of technical issues. If the business is based on a technological innovation—such as a new type of software or an invention—then it is necessary to provide an adequate discussion of the specific nature of the technology. One should take care to always remember the audience for whom you are writing the plan. Do not make this portion too technical in nature. This section also might discuss the future direction of the product or service—namely, where will you be taking (changing) the product or the service after the end of the current planning horizon? This may require a discussion of future investment requirements or the required time to develop new products and services. This section may also include a discussion of pricing the product or the service, although a more detailed discussion of the issue of pricing might be found in the marketing plan section. If you plan to include the issue of pricing here, you should discuss how the pricing of the product or the service was determined. The more detailed you are in this description, the more realistic it will appear to the readers of the business plan. You may wish to discuss relationships that you have with vendors that might have an impact on reducing cost and therefore an impact on price. It is important to discuss how your pricing scheme will compare with competitors. Will it be higher than average or below the average price? How does the pricing fit in with the overall strategy of the firm?

This section must have a high degree of honesty. Investors will know much about the industry and its limitations. You need to identify any areas that might be possible sources of problems, such as government regulations, issues with new product development, securing distribution channels, and informing the market of your existence. Further, it is important to identify the current competitors in the industry and possible future competitors.

Marketing Plan

An introductory marketing course always introduces the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. The marketing section of the business plan might provide more in-depth coverage of how the product or the service better meets customer value than that of competitors. It should identify your target customers and include coverage of who your competitors are and what they provide. The comparison between your firm and its competitors should highlight differences and point to why you are providing superior value. Pricing issues, if not covered in the previous section, could be discussed or discussed in more detail.

The issue of location, particularly in retail, should be covered in detail. Perhaps one of the most important elements of the marketing plan section is to specify how you intend to attract customers, inform them of the benefits of using your product or service, and retain customers. Initially, customers are attracted through advertising. This section should delineate the advertising plan. What media will be used—flyers, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, web presence, direct marketing, and/or social media campaigns? This section should cover any promotional campaigns that might be used.

The Management Team

Physical resources are not the only determinant of business success. The human resources available to a firm will play a critical role in determining its success. Readers of your business plan and potential investors should have a clear sense of the management team that will be running a business. They should know the team with respect to the team’s knowledge of the business, their experience and capabilities, and their drive to succeed. Arthur Rock, a venture capitalist, was once quoted as saying, “I invest in people, not the idea.” [28]

This section of the business plan has several elements. It should contain an organizational chart that will delineate the responsibilities and the chain of command for the business. It should specify who will occupy each major position of the business. You might want to explain who is doing what job and why. For every member of the management team, you should have a complete résumé. This should include educational background (both formal and informal) and past work experience, including the jobs they have held, responsibilities, and accomplishments. You might want to include some other biographical data such as age, although that is not required.

If you plan to use specific advisers or consultants, you should mention the names and backgrounds of these people in this section of the plan. You should also specify why these people are being used.

An additional element of your discussion of the management team will be the intended compensation schemes. You should specify the intended salaries for the management team while also including issues of their benefits and bonuses or any stock position that they may take in the company. This section should also identify any gaps in the management team and how you intend to fill these positions.

Depending on the nature of the business, you might wish to include in this section the personnel (employees) that will be required. You should identify the number of people that are currently working for the firm or that will have to be hired; you should also identify the skills that they need to possess. Further discussion should include the pay that will be provided: whether they will be paid a flat salary or paid hourly, if and when you intend to use overtime, and what benefits you intend to provide. In addition, you should discuss any training requirements or training programs that you will have to implement.

Financial Statements

The financial statements section of the business plan should be broken down into three key subsections: the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash-flow statement. Before proceeding with these sections, we discuss the assumptions used to build these sections. The opening section of the financial statements section should also include, in summary format, projections of sales, the sales growth rate, key expenses and their growth rates, net income across the forecasting horizon, and assets and liabilities. [29]

As previously discussed, bankers—and to lesser extent venture capitalists—will be primarily concerned with this section of the business plan. It is vital that this section—whether you are an existing business seeking more funding or a start-up—have realistic financial projections. The business plan should contain clear statements of the underlying assumptions that were used to make these financial projections. The clearer the statements and the more realistic the assumptions behind these statements, then the greater the confidence the reader will have in these projections. Few businesspeople have a thorough understanding of these financial statements; therefore, it is advisable that someone with an accounting or a financial background review these statements before they are included in the report. We will have a much more in-depth discussion of these statements in Chapter 9 .

The future planning horizon for financial projections is normally between three and five years. The duration that you will use will depend on the amount of capital that the business is seeking to raise, the type of industry the business is in, and the forecasting issues associated with making projections. Also, the detail required in these financial statements will be directly tied to the type and size of the business.

Income Statement

The  income statement examines the overall profitability of a firm over a particular period of time. As such, it is also known as a profit-and-loss statement. It identifies all sources of revenues generated and expenses incurred by the business. For the business plan, one should generate annual plans for the first three to five years. Some suggest that the planner develop more “granulated” income statements for the first two years. By granulated, we mean that the first year income statement should be broken down on a monthly basis, while the second year should be broken down on a quarterly basis.

Some of the key terms (they will be reviewed in much greater detail in Chapter 10 ) found in the income statement are as follows:

  • Income. All revenues and additional incomes produced by the business during the designated period.
  • Cost of goods sold. Costs associated with producing products, such as raw materials and costs associated directly with production.
  • Gross profit margin. Income minus the cost of goods sold.
  • Operating expenses. Costs in doing business, such as expenses associated with selling the product or the service, plus general administration expenses.
  • Depreciation. This is a special form of expense that may be included in operating expenses. Long-term assets—those whose useful life is longer than one year—decline in value over time. Depreciation takes this fact into consideration. There are several ways in which this declining value can be determined. It is a noncash expenditure expense.
  • Total expenses. The cost of goods sold plus operating expenses and depreciation.
  • Net profit before interest and taxes. This is the gross profit minus operating expenses; another way of stating net profit is income minus total expenses.
  • Interest. The required payment on all debt for the period.
  • Taxes. Federal, state, and local tax payments for the firm.
  • Net profit. This is the net profit after interest and taxes. This is the term that many will look at to determine the potential success of business operations.

Balance Sheet

The  balance sheet examines the assets and liabilities and owner’s equity of the business at some particular point in time. It is divided into two sections—the credit component (the assets of the business) and the debit component (liabilities and equity). These two components must equal each other. The business plan should have annual balance sheet for the three- or five-year planning horizon. The elements of the credit component are as follows:

  • Current assets. These are the assets that will be held for less than one year, including cash, marketable securities, accounts receivable, notes receivable, inventory, and prepaid expenses.
  • Fixed assets. These assets are not going to be turned into cash within the next year; these include plants, equipment, and land. It may also include intangible assets, such as patents, franchises, copyrights, and goodwill.
  • Total assets. This is the sum of current assets and fixed assets.

Liabilities consist of the following:

  • Current liabilities. These are debts that are to be paid within the year, such as lines of credit, accounts payable, other items payable (including taxes, wages, and rents), short-term loans, dividends payable, and current portion of long-term debt.
  • Long-term liabilities. These are debts payable over a period greater than one year, such as notes payable, long-term debt, pension fund liability, and long-term lease obligations.
  • Total liabilities. This is the sum of current liabilities and long-term liabilities.
  • Owner’s equity. This represents the value of the shareholders’ ownership in the business. It is sometimes referred to as net worth. It may be composed of items such as preferred stock, common stock, and retained earnings.

Cash-Flow Statement

From a practical and survival standpoint, the  cash-flow statement may be the most important component of the financial statements. The cash-flow statement maps out where cash is flowing into the firm and where it flows out. It recognizes that there may be a significant difference between profits and cash flow. It will indicate if a business can generate enough cash to continue operations, whether it has sufficient cash for new investments, and whether it can pay its obligations. Businesspeople soon realize that profits are nice, but cash is king.

Cash flows can be divided into three areas of analysis: cash flow from operations, cash flow from investing, and cash flow from financing. Cash flow from operations examines the cash inflows from revenues and interest and dividends from investments held by the business. It then identifies the cash outflows for paying suppliers, employees, taxes, and other expenses. Cash flow from investing examines the impact of selling or acquiring current and fixed assets. Cash flow from financing examines the impact on the cash position from the changes in the number of shares and changes in the short- and long-term debt position of the firm. Given the critical importance of cash flow to the survival of the small business, it will be covered in much more detail in Chapter 10 .

Additional Information

Depending on the nature of the business and the amount of funding that is being sought, the plan might include more materials. For an existing business, you may wish to include past tax statements and/or personal financial statements. If the business is a franchise, you should include all legal contracts and documents. The same should be done for any leasing, licensing, or rent agreements. This section should be seen as a catchall incorporating any materials that would support the plan. One does not want to be in the position of being asked by readers of the plan—“Where are these documents?”

The financial section of the business plan should include summaries of the three key financial elements. The details behind the financial statements should be included as an appendix along with clear statements concerning the assumptions that were used to build them. The appendixes may also include different scenarios that were considered in building the plan, such as alternative market growth assumptions or alternative competitive environments. Demonstrating that the author(s) considered “what-if” situations tells potential investors that the business is prepared to handle changing conditions. It should include items such as logos, diagrams, ads, and organizational charts.

Developing Scenarios

Change is constant. – Benjamin Disraeli

Business plans are analyses of the future; they can err on the side of either optimistic projections or conservative projections. From the standpoint of the potential investor, it is always better to err on the side of conservatism. Regardless of either bias, business plans are generally built on the basis of expected futures and past experience. Unfortunately, the future does not always emerge in a clearly predicated manner. One can have a dramatic change that can have significant impact on the business. Often such changes occur in the external environment and are beyond the control of the business management team. These external changes can occur within the technical environment; it can be based on changes in customer needs, changes with respect to the suppliers, changes in the economic environment—at the local, national, or global level. Dramatic change can also occur within the organization itself—the death of the owner or members of the management team. [30]

One way for an organization to deal with significant changes is a process known as scenario planning . The real origins of scenario planning can be traced back to the early nineteenth century activity known as Kreigsspiel—war gaming—a system for training officers developed by the Prussian command. This process of looking at future wars was adopted by many militaries in the later nineteenth century. In the 1950s, a more formal format was used at the RAND Institute for examining possible future changes in the military and geopolitical environments. The early 1980s saw it applied to industrial settings. Royal Dutch Shell examined the question of what would happen if there were a significant drop in the price of oil. This was after two oil crises that pushed the price of oil up significantly. The notion that oil prices would drop was considered to be an extremely unlikely event, but it did occur. Royal Dutch Shell was one of the few oil companies that did not suffer because its scenario analyses enabled them to be ready to deal with that situation. [31]

What could be the possible use of scenario planning for small businesses? There are several areas in which small businesses should apply scenario planning to be better prepared for future disruptions.

Identify Significant Changes That Might Impact the Business

Consider major shifts in the customer’s notion of value. As mentioned in Chapter 2 , the firm should always be examining what constitutes value in the eyes of the consumer and how that might shift. Henry Ford’s model T car was a global success because customers initially valued a reliable vehicle at a low price. Ford Motor Company continued to meet the customer’s notion of value by constantly driving down the unit cost. However, by the mid-1920s, customers’ notion of value included not only price but also issues such as styling and improved technologies. General Motors was able to recognize that there were changes in the customer’s value notion and provided them with a range of vehicles. Ford failed to recognize that change and suffered a significant drop in sales.

Shifts in the economic environment. The recent recession clearly indicates that economies can suffer significant shifts in a short period of time. These shifts can have dramatic impact on all business operations. Small-business owners have seen significant tightening of bank credit and changes with respect to the requirements for using credit cards. One could easily imagine the critical importance for small businesses to consider the impacts that would follow significant changes in interest rates. Southwest Airlines, in anticipation of possible fluctuations in oil prices, used futures contracts to deal with dramatic shifts in the price of oil. When oil prices rose significantly, they were in a much better position than their competitors.

The entrance of new competitors. Small businesses should always be ready to consider the impact of facing new competitors and new types of competition. Consider the case of small local retail outlets when a Walmart superstore opens in the area.

Consideration of Disasters

The best way to deal with any potential disaster is not while it is occurring or after it has happened but before it occurs. Small businesses should anticipate what they will do in the case of physical disasters, such as fire, earthquakes, or floods. Other disasters might involve the bankruptcy or loss of a major supplier or a major customer. A restaurant or a food market should have a contingency plan in the case of a power failure that might lead to food spoilage. Such a business might also want to conduct a scenario planning exercise to see what its responses would be in the case of a customer complaining of food poisoning. Other disaster scenarios that should be considered by small businesses include the impact and ramifications of having the computer system crash; having the service for the website crash; or having the website hacked, with the possible loss of customer information.

New Opportunities

Almost all businesses, large and small, must be prepared to seize new opportunities. This may mean that they have to consider the impact of technological change on the business or how technology can offer them new business opportunities. The technology of stereo lithography, a process by which three-dimensional objects are built layer by layer, has been available for more than a decade. Bespoke Innovations saw the potential for using this technology. Bespoke Innovations can develop, in a short period of time, custom artificial legs for a price of $5,000–$6,000 and with features that are not found in $60,000 prostheses. [32]

Scenario planning should be a periodic exercise, but it should be conducted no more than once a year. The actual frequency might be dependent on the perceived rate of change for the industry or the presence of storm clouds on the horizon. Scenario planning has several distinct activities, which may be as follows:

  • Pick one area that might occur in the future that would have significant impact on the business. What if the national joblessness rate remains at over 9 percent for the next three to five years? What if a major customer decides to buy from a competitor or that customer is in financial trouble? What if there are changes in the national defense budget? A luncheonette in New London, Connecticut, where Electric Boat builds nuclear submarines, wants to consider the impact of changes in the defense budget. A decrease in the budget for building nuclear submarines would reduce the number of subs made in New London, which might lead to layoffs at Electric Boat and fewer customers for the luncheonette.
  • Identify factors that might impact that issue. This sometimes is referred to as a PEST analysis, where the P stands for political issues, E stands for economic issues, S stands for sociocultural issues, and T stands for technology issues. Each factor would be analyzed to see how it might impact the scenario. In our previous luncheonette example, the restaurant might want to consider an upcoming election to see how each party would support defense appropriations, and it might look at the overall economy to determine whether a downturn in the economy might lead to a cut in defense appropriations. It is unlikely that sociocultural issues would impact defense appropriations. Technology issues, whether a breakthrough in some design by the United States or by some other country, might determine the number and location of submarines built in the United States.
  • Rank the relative importance of the previous factors. Not all factors under consideration can be considered equally important. It is critical in a scenario planning exercise to see which factors are most important so that decision-makers can focus on the ramifications of those factors in the analysis.
  • Develop scenarios. Having identified the relative importance of the factors, the next stage would be to develop a limited number of possible scenarios (no more than two or three). Each scenario would map out possible outcomes for each key factor. Based on these values, the group conducting the scenario planning exercise would develop insights into this possible future world.
  • How do the scenarios impact your business? For each future scenario, the team should examine how that possible future state would impact the operation of the business. Continuing with the luncheonette example, the owner might see that a particular political party would be elected in the next election and the economy will still be in the doldrums. Together, this might indicate a cut in the naval building budget. This will translate into a reduced number of submarines built in New London and a reduction in employment at Electric Boat. The luncheonette’s sales will obviously drop off. Now the owner must consider what it might do in that situation.

Scenario planning offers the opportunity for small business owners to examine the future on a long-term basis. It should force them to look at external environments and conditions that can have a dramatic impact on the survival of their firm. It broadens their thinking and creates an environment of increased flexibility. It enables a business to respond to those sudden shocks that might destroy other firms.

Computer Aids

Business plans can be built using a combination of word-processing and spreadsheet programs by those who are adept at using them. However, the entire process of constructing a comprehensive business plan can be greatly simplified by using a dedicated business plan software package. These packages are designed to produce reports that have all the required sections for a business plan, they greatly facilitate the creation of the financial statements with charts, and they often allow for the inclusion of materials from other programs. Most of them are fairly reasonably priced from $50 to $150.

There are many such packages on the market, and they range from those designed for novices to those that can generate annual plans by easily incorporating data from external sources, such as the accounting programs of a business. When evaluating competing programs, there are some primary and secondary factors that should be considered. [33] The primary factors are as follows:

  • Ease of building the report. The various sections of the report should be clearly identified, and the authors should be able to work on each section independent of their sequence within the report. Text and data entry should be simple and allow for easy corrections or revisions.
  • Financial statements. The software should facilitate building the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash-flow statement. For multiyear projections, the software should support the forecasting process.
  • Import from other programs. The software should be able to incorporate data from a variety of programs, such as Word and Excel. Ideally, it should be able to import data from a variety of accounting programs.
  • Support services. The software company should bundle a variety of support services, including clear instructions, tutorials, and access to Internet or call-number support. Many packages provide sample business plans for different industries.

The secondary factors are as follows:

  • Access to research support. Some software packages include access to business publications and databases to aid with market research.
  • Export options. These packages allow for the report or parts of the report to be exported to different formats—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, or PDF.
  • Ancillary analysis tools. Some packages either directly include or offer additional programs for market planning, budgeting, or valuation.

The following is a partial listing of companies that have business planning software:

  • Business Plan Pro . This company provides business planning software with sample plans for a wide number of industries plus options for acquiring industry data at national, state, or local levels. The company also has programs for marketing planning and legal issues advice.
  • Business Plan Software . This company offers a number of products, including business planning software, a strategic planning program, financial projection and cash-flow forecasting programs, and marketing planning software.
  • Plan Magic . This company offers a suite of planning products ranging from particular industries to financial and marketing planning software.
  • The business planning for a start-up business should consider if the owner(s) is/are ready to accept the challenges of operating a business.
  • Comprehensive business plans will require information about the industry, competitors, and customers. Owners or the writers of the business plan should be aware of where they can obtain this information.
  • Forecasting is critical to the success of any business. There are many different approaches to forecasting: some are simple extrapolations of trends, while others can be computationally complex. The business should use a forecasting system that is not only accurate but also makes the users feel comfortable.
  • Although business plans come in different “sizes and shapes,” they should have some key sections: executive summary, mission statement, industry analysis, marketing plan, description of the management team, and financial projections.
  • Some businesses should make it a practice of conducting scenario analyses. This is a process of examining possible future events and what should be the response of the business.
  • The complexity and difficulty of building a comprehensive business plan can be significantly reduced by using one of the available business-planning software packages.
  • Kenneth Arrow, The Concept of Corporate Strategy (Homewood, IL: Irwin, 1971), 28. ↵
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The path by which a firm seeks to provide its customers with value, given the competitive environment and within the constraints of the resources available to the firm.

A firm is in the position of being the lowest cost producer in its competitive environment.

A firm provides products or services that meet customer value in some unique way.

A firm seeks to provide value through low cost for a subset of the market given the competitive environment and within the constraints of the resources available to the firm.

A firm concentrates on providing a unique product or service to a segment of the market.

Individuals who provide money for start-up businesses or additional capital for a business to grow. They invest to make not only a profit but also returns that are substantially above those found in the market.

Individuals who initially invested in Broadway shows and films. As with venture capitalists, they are looking for returns higher than they can normally find in the market; however, they often are expecting returns lower than those anticipated by the venture capitalist.

Methods that assume that one does not have historical data or cannot rely on past historical data.

Methods that consist of techniques that assume you can use past data to make projections of the future.

The introduction to the business plan that describes the company’s business, the intended customers, the legal structure, the type and amount of funding that will requested, and the capabilities of the key executives.

A document that articulates the long-term purpose and idealized notion of what the business wishes to become.

A document that articulates the fundamental nature of the business. It should address what business the company is in, the company’s potential customers, and how customer value will be provided.

A report that provides an examination of the overall profitability of a firm over a particular period of time.

A report that examines the assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity of the business at some particular point in time.

A document that maps out where cash is flowing into a firm and where it flows out. It recognizes that there may be a significant difference between profits and cash flow.

A process that examines the impact and possible responses to events that may be unlikely but that would have significant impact on a business.

Small Business Management Copyright © by Jason Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Pricing Policy: Meaning, Objectives and Factors

which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Pricing Policy 2. Considerations Involved in Formulating the Pricing Policy 3. Objectives 4. Factors Involved.

Meaning of Pricing Policy :

A pricing policy is a standing answer to recurring question. A systematic approach to pricing requires the decision that an individual pricing situation be generalised and codified into a policy cover­age of all the principal pricing problems. Policies can and should be tailored to various competitive situations. A policy approach which is becoming normal for sales activities is comparatively rare in pricing.

Most well managed manufacturing enterprises have a clear cut advertising policy, product customer policy and distribution-channel policy. But pricing decision remains a patchwork of ad hoc decisions. In many, otherwise well managed firms, price policy has been dealt with on a crisis basis. This kind of price management by catastrophe discourages the kind of systematic analysis needed for clear cut pricing policies.

Considerations Involved in Formulating the Pricing Policy :

The following considerations involve in formulating the pricing policy:

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(i) Competitive Situation:

Pricing policy is to be set in the light of competitive situation in the market. We have to know whether the firm is facing perfect competition or imperfect competition. In perfect competition, the producers have no control over the price. Pricing policy has special signifi­cance only under imperfect competition.

(ii) Goal of Profit and Sales:

The businessmen use the pricing device for the purpose of maxim­ising profits. They should also stimulate profitable combination sales. In any case, the sales should bring more profit to the firm.

(iii) Long Range Welfare of the Firm:

Generally, businessmen are reluctant to charge a high price for the product because this might result in bringing more producers into the industry. In real life, firms want to prevent the entry of rivals. Pricing should take care of the long run welfare of the company.

(iv) Flexibility:

Pricing policies should be flexible enough to meet changes in economic conditions of various customer industries. If a firm is selling its product in a highly competitive market, it will have little scope for pricing discretion. Prices should also be flexible to take care of cyclical variations.

(v) Government Policy:

The government may prevent the firms in forming combinations to set a high price. Often the government prefers to control the prices of essential commodities with a view to prevent the exploitation of the consumers. The entry of the government into the pricing process tends to inject politics into price fixation.

(vi) Overall Goals of Business:

Pricing is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The fundamental guides to pricing, therefore, are the firms overall goals. The broadest of them is survival. On a more specific level, objectives relate to rate of growth, market share, maintenance of control and finally profit. The various objectives may not always be compatible. A pricing policy should never be established without consideration as to its impact on the other policies and practices.

(vii) Price Sensitivity:

The various factors which may generate insensitivity to price changes are variability in consumer behaviour, variation in the effectiveness of marketing effort, nature of the prod­uct, importance of service after sales, etc. Businessmen often tend to exaggerate the importance of price sensitivity and ignore many identifiable factors which tend to minimise it.

(viii) Routinisation of Pricing:

A firm may have to take many pricing decisions. If the data on demand and cost are highly conjectural, the firm has to rely on some mechanical formula. If a firm is selling its product in a highly competitive market, it will have little scope for price discretion. This will have the way for routinised pricing.

Objectives of Pricing Policy:

The pricing policy of the firm may vary from firm to firm depending on its objective. In practice, we find many prices for a product of a firm such as wholesale price, retail price, published price, quoted price, actual price and so on.

Special discounts, special offers, methods of payment, amounts bought and transportation charges, trade-in values, etc., are some sources of variations in the price of the product. For pricing decision, one has to define the price of the product very carefully.

Pricing decision of a firm in general will have considerable repercussions on its marketing strategies. This implies that when the firm makes a decision about the price, it has to consider its entire marketing efforts. Pricing decisions are usually considered a part of the general strategy for achieving a broadly defined goal.

While setting the price, the firm may aim at the following objectives:

(i) Price-Profit Satisfaction:

The firms are interested in keeping their prices stable within certain period of time irrespective of changes in demand and costs, so that they may get the expected profit.

(ii) Sales Maximisation and Growth:

A firm has to set a price which assures maximum sales of the product. Firms set a price which would enhance the sale of the entire product line. It is only then, it can achieve growth.

(iii) Making Money:

Some firms want to use their special position in the industry by selling product at a premium and make quick profit as much as possible.

(iv) Preventing Competition:

Unrestricted competition and lack of planning can result in waste­ful duplication of resources. The price system in a competitive economy might not reflect society’s real needs. By adopting a suitable price policy the firm can restrict the entry of rivals.

(v) Market Share:

The firm wants to secure a large share in the market by following a suitable price policy. It wants to acquire a dominating leadership position in the market. Many managers believe that revenue maximisation will lead to long run profit maximisation and market share growth.

(vi) Survival:

In these days of severe competition and business uncertainties, the firm must set a price which would safeguard the welfare of the firm. A firm is always in its survival stage. For the sake of its continued existence, it must tolerate all kinds of obstacles and challenges from the rivals.

(vii) Market Penetration:

Some companies want to maximise unit sales. They believe that a higher sales volume will lead to lower unit costs and higher long run profit. They set the lowest price, assuming the market is price sensitive. This is called market penetration pricing.

(viii) Marketing Skimming:

Many companies favour setting high prices to ‘skim’ the market. Dupont is a prime practitioner of market skimming pricing. With each innovation, it estimates the highest price it can charge given the comparative benefits of its new product versus the available substitutes.

(ix) Early Cash Recovery:

Some firms set a price which will create a mad rush for the product and recover cash early. They may also set a low price as a caution against uncertainty of the future.

(x) Satisfactory Rate of Return:

Many companies try to set the price that will maximise current profits. To estimate the demand and costs associated with alternative prices, they choose the price that produces maximum current profit, cash flow or rate of return on investment.

Factors Involved in Pricing Policy:

The pricing of the products involves consideration of the following factors:

(i) Cost Data.

(ii) Demand Factor.

(iii) Consumer Psychology.

(iv) Competition.

(v) Profit.

(vi) Government Policy.

(i) Cost Data in Pricing:

Cost data occupy an important place in the price setting processes. There are different types of costs incurred in the production and marketing of the product. There are production costs, promotional expenses like advertising or personal selling as well as taxation, etc.

They may necessitate an upward fixing of price. For example, the prices of petrol and gas are rising due to rise in the cost of raw materials, such as crude transportation, refining, etc. If costs go up, price rise can be quite justified. However, their relevance to the pricing decision must neither be underestimated nor exaggerated. For setting prices apart from costs, a number of other factors have to be taken into consideration. They are demand and competition.

Costs are of two types:

Fixed costs and variable costs. In the short period, that is, the period in which a firm wants to establish itself, the firm may not cover the fixed costs but it must cover the variable cost. But in the long run, all costs must be covered. If the entire costs are not covered, the producer stops production.

Subsequently, the supply is reduced which, in turn, may lead to higher prices. If costs are not covered, the producer stops production. Subsequently, the supply is reduced which, in turn, may lead to higher prices. If costs were to determine prices why do so many companies report losses?

There are marked differences in costs as between one producer and another. Yet the fact remains that the prices are very close for a somewhat similar product. This is the very best evidence of the fact that costs are not the determining factors in pricing.

In fact, pricing is like a tripod. It has three legs. In addition to costs, there are two other legs of market demand and competition. It is no more possible to say that one or another of these factors determines price than it is to assert that one leg rather than either of the other two supports a tripod.

Price decisions cannot be based merely on cost accounting data which only contribute to history while prices have to work in the future. Again it is very difficult to measure costs accurately. Costs are affected by volume, and volume is affected by price.

The management has to assume some desired price-volume relationship for determining costs. That is why, costs play even a less important role in connection with new products than with the older ones. Until the market is decided and some idea is obtained about volume, it is not possible to determine costs.

Regarding the role of costs in pricing, Nickerson observes that the cost may be regarded only as an indicator of demand and price. He further says that the cost at any given time represents a resistance point to the lowering of price. Again, costs determine profit margins at various levels of output.

Cost calculation may also help in determining whether the product whose price is determined by its demand, is to be included in the product line or not. What costs determine is not the price, but whether the production can be profitably produced or not is very important.

Relevant Costs:

The question naturally arises: “What then are the relevant costs for pricing decision? Though in the long run, all costs have to be covered, for managerial decisions in the short run, direct costs are relevant. In a single product firm, the management would try to cover all the costs.”

In a multi-product firm, problems are more complex. For pricing decision, relevant costs are those costs that are directly traceable to an individual product. Ordinarily, the selling price must cover all direct costs that are attributable to a product. In addition, it must contribute to the common cost and to the realisation of profit. If the price, in the short run, is lower than the cost, the question arises, whether this price covers the variable cost. If it covers the variable cost, the low price can be accepted.

But in the long run, the firm cannot sell at a price lower than the cost. Product pricing decision should be lower than the cost. Product pricing decision should, therefore, be made with a view to maximise company’s profits in the long run.

(ii) Demand Factor in Pricing:

In pricing of a product, demand occupies a very important place. In fact, demand is more impor­tant for effective sales. The elasticity of demand is to be recognised in determining the price of the product. If the demand for the product is inelastic, the firm can fix a high price. On the other hand, if the demand is elastic, it has to fix a lower price.

In the very short term, the chief influence on price is normally demand. Manufacturers of durable goods always set a high price, even though sales are affected. If the price is too high, it may also affect the demand for the product. They wait for arrival of a rival product with competitive price. Therefore, demand for product is very sensitive to price changes.

(iii) Consumer Psychology in Pricing:

Demand for the product depends upon the psychology of the consumers. Sensitivity to price change will vary from consumer to consumer. In a particular situation, the behaviour of one individual may not be the same as that of the other. In fact, the pricing decision ought to rest on a more incisive rationale than simple elasticity. There are consumers who buy a product provided its quality is high.

Generally, product quality, product image, customer service and promotion activity influence many consumers more than the price. These factors are qualitative and ambiguous. From the point of view of consumers, prices are quantitative and unambiguous.

Price constitutes a barrier to demand when it is too low, just as much as where it is too high. Above a particular price, the product is regarded as too expensive and below another price, as constituting a risk of not giving adequate value. If the price is too low, consumers will tend to think that a product of inferior quality is being offered.

With an improvement in incomes, the average consumer becomes quality conscious. This may lead to an increase in the demand for durable goods. People of high incomes buy products even though their prices are high. In the affluent societies, price is the indicator of quality.

Advertisement and sales promotion also contribute very much in increasing the demand for advertised products. Because the consumer thinks that the advertised products are of good quality. The income of the consumer, the standard of living and the price factor influence the demand for various products in the society.

(iv) Competition Factor in Pricing:

Market situation plays an effective role in pricing. Pricing policy has some managerial discretion where there is a considerable degree of imperfection in competition. In perfect competition, the individual producers have no discretion in pricing. They have to accept the price fixed by demand and supply.

In monopoly, the producer fixes a high price for his product. In other market situations like oligopoly and monopolistic competition, the individual producers take the prices of the rival products in determining their price. If the primary determinant of price changes in the competitive condition is the market place, the pricing policy can least be categorised as competition based pricing.

(v) Profit Factor in Pricing:

In fixing the price for products, the producers consider mainly the profit aspect. Each producer has his aim of profit maximisation. If the objective is profit maximisation, the critical rule is to select the price at which MR = MC. Generally, the pricing policy is based on the goal of obtaining a reasonable profit. Most of the businessmen want to hold the price at constant level.

They do not desire frequent price fluctuation. The profit maximisation approach to price setting is logical because it forces decision makers to focus their attention on the changes in production, cost, revenue and profit associated with any contemplated change in price. The price rigidity is the practice of many producers. Rigidity does not mean inflexibility. It means that prices are stable over a given period.

(vi) Government Policy in Pricing:

In market economy, the government generally does not interfere in the economic decisions of the economy. It is only in planned economies, the government’s interference is very much. According to conventional economic theory, the buyers and sellers only determine the price. In reality, certain other parties are also involved in the pricing process. They are the competition and the government.

The government’s practical regulatory price techniques are ceiling on prices, minimum prices and dual pricing. In a mixed economy like India, the government resorts to price control. The business establish­ments have to adopt the government’s price policies to control relative prices to achieve certain targets, to prevent inflationary price rise and to prevent abnormal increase in prices.

Related Articles:

  • Pricing of Products: 12 Factors
  • Pricing Process: Concept of Product Pricing & Pricing Objectives
  • Factors Affecting the Pricing Decisions
  • 4 Types of Pricing Methods – Explained!

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What is a business plan?

Are you planning to introduce your idea to a university, professor or investor.

Business Plan: BP is a document that details how you handle all the important aspects of your business. Combines several other plans including financial plan, marketing plan, risk plan, etc. and ends up in a business plan.

Use clear and concise language (instead of begging and emotional language) to attract potential investors.

A good business plan defines where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. This is a “living document” that will grow and change with you and your ideas.

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The following are the key parts of a business plan .

What is the executive summary of a business plan .

The executive summary provides an overview of the whole concept of your business. This is the first part of your plan, but it’s best to write it when you have a clear understanding of the direction of your business. It should catch the reader’s attention (venture capitalists see hundreds of business plans) .

Profile and business history

A business profile describes your business, including its name, location, and purpose. It also often contains information about business owners, such as their expertise, experience and education, that will underpin successful business operations .

Business Plan Vision

Incorporating vision and direction for your business into your business plan is an important step in identifying your ambition and where you want to be .

Vision helps you :

Keep track of where you want your business to go

State the long-term goals of your business

Reflect the values of your business

Product or service market analysis

The business plan should include a market analysis of the products and services you offer. Must identify, describe and analyze. This part of the business plan includes your target market, market share and competitors. Use this analysis to decide on the pricing of your products and services and the location of your business .

Once you have completed the external analysis, use the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Business Plan Plan analysis to help you identify the biggest opportunities and how you can overcome barriers to achieving results. Reduce your comment .

Marketing Plan – Marketing Plan

The Marketing Plan identifies your marketing strategies for attracting new customers and retaining existing customers. In your in-house marketing plan, consider the difference between your product or service and what is currently available .

Your business plan marketing plan should consider your target market and which marketing channels (digital, print, etc.) are best positioned to reach them .

Legal plan and risk management in business plan

Legal planning and risk management is one of the weaknesses of many amateur and cheap business plans in the market. This section of the business plan contains information about the business structure, business registration and licenses and permits required .

Action plan

An action plan summarizes how your business operates, including information about how your product or service is generated. This includes details of your location and rental conditions, equipment, materials, labor, technology and environmental concerns. An action plan is essential in a business plan .

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Human Resource Management Program in Business Plan

The management and personnel program examines staff duties, job descriptions, human resource policies, workforce planning and training in the business plan. Your reputation and that of your employees is crucial to the success of your business .

Financial management program

The business plan financial plan lists the costs of building your business, the sales needed to break, the projected cash flow, financing arrangements, and repayment plans .

The financial plan part of your business plan is important in financing and attracting partners, and it is essential that the plan is accurate and shows their short-term return on investment .

Managing cash flow, understanding your expenses, understanding your taxes and licensing requirements, and understanding your financial forecasts can make the difference between staying in business and closing your doors .

Action Plan in Business Plan

The action plan identifies the tasks you need to perform to achieve your goals, including the resources needed .

When done simply, a business plan consists of three main steps :

  • Assess the current situation
  • Identify where you want to be – vision and goals
  • Action – A plan to achieve your vision and goals .

Make sure you have a clear delivery time frame and appoint key staff to deliver results .

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Do you really need a business plan ?

The idea of writing a business plan has been accepted for decades. Everything is moving much faster now and starting a business is easier than ever. And even if you can write an executable business plan in less than an hour, you might ask, is it really worth it ?

Therefore, it makes sense to think that startups no longer need business plans. Although tempting to start a business without a plan is not a good idea, here is why :

A business plan is not just about financing

Planning is still an important part of starting a business, but not for reasons you might think. Most people think that this plan is to show it to other people to raise money or get a loan. However, this is not the real reason why planning is so important .

Process is something that is valuable

Writing a business plan is important because of the process you will go through when setting up the plan. As you plan, you will realize what you need to do to start your business and what you need to do to succeed. Writing a business plan is all about you and clarifying your business idea for yourself and your business partners .

The idea is very clear

After all, before you can explain your business idea to friends, family and potential investors, you need to be able to explain your idea to yourself. The value of writing a business plan comes from the process, not the printing of a document .

Reduce your risk with a business plan

Spending a little time planning before starting a business reduces the risk of losing money and making stupid mistakes. Your business plan will help you understand if your business can really make money and what you need to do to succeed. Sure, you can start a business without a business plan, but you’re much more likely to waste time, money, and resources unless you have a plan .

Research proves that it helps

Planning actually ensures that you will be more successful. Over the years, numerous academic studies have been conducted on companies that plan and companies that do not plan. And over and over again, the results show that the companies that plan are more successful, more likely to receive funding, and more likely to achieve their goals .

This is still true even in times of crisis. In a recent survey of small businesses, we found that 58% of businesses that ensure the health of their business have a current business plan. Even in the midst of uncertainty, having a business plan provides guidance and stability, allowing businesses to make decisions, focus on their business, and succeed in an unstable environment .

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Marketing vocabulary, consumer credit workplace essentials, 10.5k plays, personal characteristics of successful e..., 6th -  8th  .

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Aspects of a Business Plan (Entre)

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25 questions

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Which leadership style is characterized by limited discussion of new ideas and is best used in groups who are not well acquainted with each other ?

Needs Based

Laissez Faire

Which of the following is NOT a management style?

Reinforcing

Participating

All of the following are traits of a good leaders EXCEPT which of the following

Hard-Working

Good Listener

Which management style is characterized by the manager trusting the employees work ability and is best used with employees know how to do their job?

Which of the following is NOT a leadership style

Which of the following is the response to the sender’s message

Reinforcement

Which of the following is NOT and example of external communication

Press Release

Television Interview

Company Memo

Which of the following is a physical barrier to communication?

Unclear Message

Low Interest of the Audience

Which of the following is defined as the process of the receiver breaking down the message received and interpreting the message?

Transitioning

Communication within an organization occurring between employees is referred to as which of the following?

Vertical external communication

Vertical internal communication

Horizontal external communication

Horizontal internal communication

Which of the following describes the business type, the products offered and the philosophy of the business?

Marketing plan

Executive agenda

Financial plan

Business description

Which of the following is the roadmap of where the business is going?

Business Agenda

Executive Agenda

Business Plan

Executive Plan

Which of the following includes a list of the sources of capital and the projected income and expenses of the business?

Marketing Plan

Which of the following should serve as a detailed outline of the company and convince the audience to read the rest of the business plan?

Business Description

Financial Plan

Executive Summary

Which of the following describes strategies for branding, packaging, advertising and promoting the business and its products?

Telling management works best when employees are not willing and/or able to do the job.

The first step of the communication process is the receiver decoding the message

The business philosophy describes the business’s education, training, strengths, weaknesses and personal development.

Which of the following is NOT one of the three types of supporting documents as stated in the presentation?

Business communication documents

Financial documents

Legal documents

Marketing documents

Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies?

Self-analysis

Trading area analysis

Proposed marketing plan

Product description

Which of the following is NOT one of the five sections of a business plan?

Supporting documents

Organization and marketing plan

Executive description

A speech is an example of which type of communication?

One-way spoken

One-way written

Two-way nonverbal

Two-way spoken

Who should external communication flow through?

A variety of media members

A public relations person or manager

Loyal or long-time customers

All employees

Which type of leadership style should be used when the group has a strong sense of teamwork and a familiar routine?

Which of the following is NOT a management characteristic associated with delegating management?

To have a high workload

To trust employees’ work ability

To be confident

To be a micromanager

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IMAGES

  1. Part Business Plan Write a page in.docx

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

  2. Part Business Plan Write a page in.docx

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

  3. pricing strategy

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

  4. 😀 Business plan pricing. Business Plan Prices. 2019-01-06

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

  5. Business Plan in Word and Pdf formats

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

  6. Financial Part Of Business Plan Template

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

VIDEO

  1. IDER Plan: Plans Section

  2. BUSINESS PLAN PRESENTATION //Business plan presentation discussion //How to make business plan

  3. February 11, 2024

  4. Top 10 Energy Policies Influencing US Sustainability

  5. Pricing decisions

  6. Business Plan Creator

COMMENTS

  1. Aspects of a Business Plan Flashcards

    The business philosophy describes the business's education, training, strengths, weaknesses and personal development. Proposed marketing plan. Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? Financial documents. Which is NOT one of the three types of supporting documents as.

  2. How to write a pricing strategy for my business plan?

    The pricing strategy can best be explained in the marketing section of your business plan. In this section you should describe what price you will charge for your product or service to customers and your argumentation for why you ask this. However, businesses always balance the challenging scale of charging too much or too little.

  3. 12.3 The Five-Step Procedure for Establishing Pricing Policy

    The most common pricing objectives are based on customer value, cost, sales orientation, market share, target return, competition, and being customer-driven. It is not uncommon for more than one objective to be set within the company. Let's take a look at each of the pricing objectives in more detail. Based on a product's added value

  4. 11.4 The Business Plan

    Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we'll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan.

  5. Pricing strategy guide: 7 types, examples, & how to choose

    This can be a good strategy in the right circumstances, such as a business just starting out, but it doesn't leave a lot of room for growth. 3. Price skimming. If you set your prices as high as the market will possibly tolerate and then lower them over time, you'll be using the price skimming strategy.

  6. Pricing Strategies and Models Explained

    Types of pricing strategies. 1. Penetration pricing. Setting an initial low price to quickly attract customers and establish a market presence. Ideal for new entrants wanting rapid market share. Example: Streaming services offering discounted rates for the first three months. 2. Price skimming.

  7. 14 pricing strategies and examples

    1. Penetration pricing. Best for: businesses that want to build brand loyalty and reputation. Penetration pricing strategy aims to attract buyers by offering lower prices on goods and services than competitors. This strategy draws attention away from other businesses and can help increase brand awareness and loyalty, which can lead to long-term customer relationships.

  8. What Is a Pricing Strategy? + How To Choose One for Your Business

    A pricing strategy is the process and methodology used to determine prices for products and services. As we'll explore in this article, different pricing strategies work for different products and business models. A good pricing strategy can enable several things for a business: Convey value to customers Attract customers

  9. Chapter 5

    Plans for Raising Capital. Every business plan should be written with a particular audience in mind. The annual business plan should be written with a management team and for the employees who have to implement the plan. However, one of the prime reasons for writing a business plan is to secure investment funds for the firm.

  10. Develop a pricing strategy

    Value pricing: this strategy is based on what customers think a product or service is worth, rather than actual costs. The value is determined through market testing and a price is set based on this value. For example, sometimes customers will pay more if it saves them a lot of time. The price reflects this saving.

  11. Pricing Policy: Meaning, Objectives and Factors

    (i) Competitive Situation: Pricing policy is to be set in the light of competitive situation in the market. We have to know whether the firm is facing perfect competition or imperfect competition. In perfect competition, the producers have no control over the price. Pricing policy has special signifi­cance only under imperfect competition.

  12. What Is a Business Plan?

    A business plan is a guide for a company that identifies its goals and outlines the steps for achieving those goals. Business plans help pinpoint a company's priorities and metrics while also holding employees accountable in their roles. When companies develop business plans, it allows employees at all levels to see the company as a whole ...

  13. A guide to pricing policy (definition, examples and tips)

    6 pricing policies. Here are six approaches to determining the price of a company's goods or services, with an example for each: 1. Cost-plus pricing. For this approach to determining prices, the main consideration is the cost of goods sold (COGS).

  14. What is a business plan?

    Business Plan: BP is a document that details how you handle all the important aspects of your business. Combines several other plans including financial plan, marketing plan, risk plan, etc. and ends up in a business plan. Use clear and concise language (instead of begging and emotional language) to attract potential investors.

  15. Aspects of a Business Plan (Entre)

    Aspects of a Business Plan (Entre) quiz for 9th grade students. ... Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? Self-analysis . Trading area analysis . Proposed marketing plan. Product description ... Organization and marketing plan . Supporting documents . Executive description . 22. Multiple Choice. 30 seconds. 1 pt ...

  16. Aspects of a Business Plan Flashcards

    Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like Executive description, False, Proposed marketing plan and more.

  17. Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

    Proposed marketing plan identifies plans for pricing policies. so the right choice is C. The products and pricing area of your marketing strategy outlines the services and goods you provide to the market along with your approach to pricing for each.

  18. which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

    which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? Self-analysis. Trading area analysis. Proposed marketing plan. Advertisement lucygarduno3126 is waiting for your help. Add your answer and earn points. Add answer +10 pts Expert-Verified Answer question No one rated this answer yet — why not be the first? 😎 ashishdwivedilVT

  19. Entrepreneurship Midterm Flashcards

    Which section of the business plan discusses how owner (s) plan to enter the industry and grow the business? What is the term for specific, time-sensitive accomplishments used to measure the short-term progress of an organization? Which of the following business structures work great for small businesses?

  20. which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies?a

    Plans of pricing policies are identified in the business plan's self-analysis section. What do you mean by business? Anyone engaged in business is one who creates goods or renders services with the goal of making a profit. Economic Definition. The company is a creative organisation or team that partakes in professions.

  21. ENT fall final Flashcards

    Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? Proposed marketing plan Which of the following is the roadmap of where the business is going? Business plan Which of the following is the response to the sender's message? Feedback

  22. Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

    Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? a.Self-analysis b.Trading area analysis c,Proposed marketing plan d.Product description Advertisement lucasperrine5167 is waiting for your help. Add your answer and earn points. Add answer +10 pts Expert-Verified Answer question

  23. Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies

    Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? Pilihan jawaban a. Self-analysis - brainly.com Lintor5938 02/01/2023 Business High School answered • expert verified Which part of the business plan identifies plans for pricing policies? Pilihan jawaban a. Self-analysis b. Trading area analysis c. Proposed marketing plan d.