How to Write a Professional Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps
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During financial uncertainty, many of us press pause on our entrepreneurial aspirations.
Wondering if now’s the right time to start our business . Doubting our ideas and worrying about the what-ifs and maybes!
A business plan removes the uncertainty and what-ifs from the equation. It validates our business ideas, confirms our marketing strategies, and identifies potential problems before they arise.
Replacing our doubts with positivity, ensuring we see the complete picture, and increasing our chances of success.
Because you could be starting and running your own business . But you’ll only know for sure it’s the right move for you when you write your business plan.
Here’s everything you need to know to create the perfect business plan.
What is a business plan?
A well-written business plan contains the recipe for your new business’s growth and development.
It’s your compass.
It describes your goals and how you’ll achieve them by infusing the ingredients you need to turn your dream into a reality.
- Your business description- Tells readers about your idea, why it'll succeed, and how you'll make it happen.
- A market analysis- That backs up your company description.
- Your management and organization plan- Includes employees or contractors because even a one-person show may need a team's help on a contract basis, like bookkeeping services, graphic design, research, and if your business grows, with time, also full-time employees.
- Your products or services descriptions- Explaining how they work, where you'll get them, and how much they`ll cost.
- A target audience analysis- So, you know exactly who you`re selling to and what makes them buy what you`re offering.
- Your marketing and sales plan- Proving your chosen niche is profitable and how you'll reach your customers.
- A financial funding request/projections - What you need and how you'll get it.
Your business plan is like a GPS, guiding your business to its destination for the next 3 to 5 years.
Why is a business plan important?
Here’s the short answer.
A business plan enables you to convey your vision to those who can help you make it a reality.
It does it in 2 ways:
- It empowers you to evaluate your goals and confirm their viability before entering a marketplace.
- And equips you with the information, using a proven outline, that convinces others to help you achieve them.
A business plan does it by explaining who you are, what you are going to do, and how you’ll do it. It clarifies your strategies, identifies future roadblocks, and determines your immediate and future financial and resource needs.
Let’s look at what that means and why each part is important.
A business plan helps you evaluate your ideas
Do you have over one business idea or a range of products or services you believe you could bring to a single marketplace?
If so, a business plan helps determine which is worth focusing on and where to apply your energy and resources by evaluating your idea’s possible market share and profitability before investing.
Clarifies your costs
Your chosen market determines your initial investment and future revenue. And it would be best if you knew those before you invest a dollar in your business idea.
With your chosen idea, your business plan can help you understand your set-up and running costs, the resources you’ll need, and the time it’ll take to get started.
It’s also where you’ll calculate your future sales and revenue goals to ensure they fit your budget and required breakeven point.
And those are essential because every business needs a consistent cash flow to stay afloat!
Steers your business in the right direction
Your business plan guides you through every stage of starting and running your business .
It acts as your GPS, giving you a course to steer. Ensuring your business stays on track, helping you achieve your goals every step of the way.
Acts as your financial guide
As your new business grows, you might need to expand.
But with expansion come big spending decisions, such as purchasing expensive equipment, leasing a new location, or hiring your first employees.
Your business plan’s financial forecast gives you a solid foundation to build on by clarifying when you’re ready to make those investments, ensuring you don’t overreach.
And when you are ready to employ staff, it helps you with that too!
Helps recruit the people you need
Your business is often only as good as its employees. A business plan helps you communicate your vision and pitch your dream to the best candidates. Building their confidence in your venture and encouraging them to join you.
It's essential if seeking a loan or investment
Do you need a loan from a bank or a venture capitalist/angel investor?
If so, you’ll need a business plan that shows your past and future financial trajectory so potential investors can evaluate your business’ feasibility to determine whether you’re worth the risk.
It's an asset if you want to sell your business
Owners of legal entities, such as LLCs, can sell all or part of their business to raise funds for other business ventures or expand their existing ones.
A solid business plan with proven financial recordings and realistic forecasts based on current performance can make your business more attractive to potential investors.
And it makes sense because when buyers understand your business model and its potential growth, they’ll see the value in it for them.
All great reasons to write a business plan, don`t you agree?
Okay, here’s how you do it:
The steps for creating a business plan
Most business plan templates are similar, containing several steps for writing a conclusive plan. If you’re interested in a very short plan, we prepared a lean (one-page) version, including a template .
The perfect business plan isn’t one or the other; it’s the plan that meets your business needs.
That said, every business plan should contain crucial elements and essential details . And a rhythm to your outline that encourages action, growth, and investors to read it from start to finish. Our step-by-step guide, along with our template, will help you achieve both.
But first, you must choose the style that works for you:
Pick a business plan format that works for you
You can tackle creating a business plan in different ways; one could be a long-form, more traditional approach or a one-page business plan that acts as a summarized road map.
Traditional business plans use a standard, industry-expected structure, with each section written in great detail. They require a lot of research because businesses often use them to gain investment, and they can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long.
A one-page business plan uses a similar structure but summarizes each step by highlighting the key points.
You can write a one-page plan in an hour and use it as a personal blueprint for running your business or as a guide to writing a future traditional plan.
Here are the core component that create a great business plan:
1. An executive summary
2. Your company’s description
3. Market analysis
4. management and organization outline, 5. products and service description, 6. target audience analysis, 7. marketing and sales plan.
8. Financial funding request
9. Financial projections
10. an appendix, 1. an executive summary.
The first section of your business plan’s an executive summary that tells anyone reading in simple terms what your business is and why you believe it’ll be successful.
It’s the most crucial part of your plan because anyone reviewing it often decides whether to continue reading based on what’s in your executive summary.
Your executive should contain your mission statement (why you’re starting your business). A product/service description. Your leadership team and financial information.
Even though the first thing people read is your executive summary, it’s the last section you write.
The next step is about you:
2. Your company's description
Here you sell yourself and your business by telling readers why you’re starting your business and know it’ll succeed.
You must be realistic, business-like, and detailed.
Begin by explaining who you are, what you plan on doing, and how you’ll do it. Describe your future market, your target audience, and why they need your product/service.
Elaborate on your unique selling point (USP) and how your competitive advantage will ensure your success.
Describe your team, highlight their skills and technical expertise, and if you`re a brick-and-mortar business, discuss your location and why it’s right for your target audience or logistics.
Now your market:
A great business idea is only as good as its future marketplace. Enter a declining market with an insufficient or uninterested audience, and you’ll be toast.
Choose one on an upward trajectory with people you understand and need your product, and you’ll be in business.
That makes your market analysis a crucial step in your business plan outline. Here’s where you identify your target audience, competitors’ performance, strengths and weaknesses, and whether the market can sustain your business needs.
Your market analysis should include the following:
- Your market description and outlook- Provide a detailed outline defining your market, including its size, trends, growth rate, and outlook.
- Target Market- Describe your ideal customers, including their demographics such as age, gender, employment status, income level, and lifestyle preferences. Also, include your market size, what motivates your ideal clients, and how you'll reach them.
- Competitive Analysis- Identify your main competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. Also, highlight any potential roadblocks that might prevent you from entering your chosen marketplace.
Step 4 is where you tell readers how you’ll construct your business and who’ll run it.
Describe your business’s legal structure, whether you’re a sole proprietor intending to form an LLC or a limited/general partnership with dreams of incorporating an S or C corps.
Include your registered business name and any DBA brand name you have. And any member’s percentage ownership and managerial duties per your operating agreement.
And consider using a chart to show who runs what section of the business. Explain how each employee, manager, or owner’s experience and expertise will contribute to your venture’s success. And if you have them, include your team’s resumes and CVs.
Now you must get technical about what you plan to offer.
List your products or services and explain how they work. If in the development stage, describe the process and when you’ll be market ready.
Include the following product/service information:
- Describe how your product/service will benefit your target audience.
- Provide a breakdown of costs per unit made/sold, life cycle, and expected profit margins.
- Explain your supply chain, order fulfillment, and sales strategy.
- Include your plans for intellectual property, like trademarks and patents.
Your product and service description brings you to those who matter most. Your target audience:
The target audience section of your business plan is the most important one to get right. After all, your customers are your business. And the better you know them, the easier it’ll be to sell to them.
To gain a clear picture of your ideal clients, learn about their demographics and create a client persona.
- Their location
- Education level
- Employment status
- Where they work
- How much they earn
- How they communicate
- Preferred social media platforms
- Common behavior patterns
- Free time interests
- And what their values and beliefs are
You need your target audience’s demographics to create a branding style that resonates with them. To build marketing strategies that engage their interest. And to identify where to spend your advertising dollars.
Target market’s persona in place, your next step is to describe how you’ll reach and sell to them:
Your marketing plan outlines your strategies to connect with and convert your ideal clients.
Here’s where you explain how you’ll reach your audience, describe your sales funnel, and develop customer loyalty to keep customers.
Your business plan doesn’t require your complete marketing/sales plan but should answer basic questions like:
- Who's your target market?
- Which channels will you use to reach them? (Social media, email, website, traditional marketing, etc.)
- What sales strategies will you use?
- Which resources do you need to implement those strategies?
- Do you have the resources, and if not, where will you get them?
- What are the potential marketing obstacles, and how you'll overcome them?
- What's your initial marketing campaign timeline and budget?
- What your success metrics are, and how you'll measure them?
8. Financial funding request
This step applies if you require funding to start or grow your business.
Similar to the marketing plan step, including your entire financial plan is unnecessary. However, you’ll need to answer specific questions to explain how much investment you require and how you’ll use it.
The following financial funding outline will suffice:
- Your current capital balance and how much future capital you'll need.
- Specify whether you want equity or debt.
- The terms and conditions you need and the duration of any loan repayments.
- Provide a detailed description of why you need investment, IE., to pay salaries, buy equipment or stock, and what percentage will go where.
Start-ups that need investment must rely on something other than past sales and balance sheets. Here, you’ll need to use financial projections to persuade lenders you’ll generate enough profit to repay their loans. And that investors will get a worthwhile return.
Your goal is to convince potential lenders or investors that your business will make enough profit to repay any loans or fulfill your equity promises.
Depending on your loan requirements and market, these projections can vary from 3 to 5 years.
Financial projections aren’t an exact science; you’re forecasting the future! However, accuracy is essential (meaning your projected numbers must add up correctly). And while your goals should be positive, they must also be realistic.
What to include in your financial forecast:
- Forecasted income statements.
- Capital expenditures, fixed and variable.
- Quarterly and annual balance sheets.
- Projected cash flow statements.
Be specific with your projections and ensure they match your funding requests. And if you have collateral to put against a loan, include it at the end of your financial projections to improve your chances of approval.
Also, consider using charts and graphs to tell your financial story, as visuals are great for conveying your message.
Use your appendix to list and provide supporting information, documents, or additional materials you couldn’t fit in elsewhere.
If the appendix is lengthy, start it with a table of contents.
What to include:
- Key employee resumes.
- Letters of reference.
- Licenses and permits.
- Intellectual property - patents or trademarks.
- Legal documents.
- Any current contracts.
- Product pictures and information.
- Bank statements/credit history.
Financial uncertainty shouldn`t stop you from following your dreams. In fact, recessions are often the best time to start a business .
And your business plan is one of the main things that can help you make your dream of owning a business a reality.
Take it one step at a time, do your research, and use your business plan to remove the uncertainty of the unknown.
Because then you’ll know if the time is right to start your business.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Kevin Bailey Is Stepping Down as Vans President, Will Focus on VF Corp.’s New Strategy
Shoshy ciment, business editor.
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Vans global brand president Kevin Bailey is stepping down from his role as VF Corp. rolls out a new plan to transform its business.
Bailey, who first joined Vans in 2002 and returned to the helm last year after serving in other roles at the parent company, will remain with VF as a part of the company’s executive leadership team reporting to CEO and president Bracken Darrell, who was appointed to the company in June.
“An external search is underway for a new brand president for Vans and in the interim, Bracken Darrell will take a more active role in leading the brand and delivering its turnaround strategies,” VF noted in the release.
Bailey, an industry and Vans veteran, returned to the helm of Vans April 2022 after previously serving as EVP and group president, Asia Pacific and emerging brands. According to his LinkedIn, he previously served as the president of Vans between 2009 and 2016.
In an interview in March, Bailey identified several critical mistakes within Vans, including not innovating enough, becoming dependent on classics and becoming less strategic about where the brand shows up in the marketplace. However, he affirmed at the time that “the brand is not broken.” In August, VF said that rightsizing Vans was a top priority for the company.
Earlier this month, an activist investor with a stake in VF Corp. outlined a plan it said could increase shareholder value, cut costs at the company and restore brand authority in VF’s largest brands, Vans and The North Face. And last week, the company named Trevor Edwards , a prominent and controversial former Nike executive , to its board.
VF Corp. also reported on Monday that revenues in the second quarter were down 2 percent to $3 billion. Loss per share was $1.16 versus the prior year’s $0.31. Adjusted earnings per share were $0.63.
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How to Effectively Promote Your Business to Customers and Investors There are many tactics to build awareness and buzz around your brand, and they are all critical components of success.
By Entrepreneur Staff • Oct 27, 2023
- Promotion is everything you do to build awareness of your business, including: picking your company name, going to trade shows, buying advertisements, making telemarketing calls, using billboards, arranging co-op marketing, offering free giveaways, building and maintaining your online presence, and more.
- Any serious business plan will have a promotional plan that considers what you'll do today and also what you'll do do the road to keep your products fresh in consumers' eyes.
We've discussed product, price and place as they pertain to the Four Ps of Marketing. Now let's talk about the final one: promotion.
Promotion is virtually everything you do to bring your company and your product in front of consumers. Promotional activities include picking your company name, going to trade shows, buying advertisements, making telemarketing calls, using billboards, arranging co-op marketing, offering free giveaways, building and maintaining your online presence, and more. Not all promotions are suitable for all products, of course, so your plan should select the ones that will work best for you, explain why they were chosen, and tell how you're going to use them.
Promotion aims to inform, persuade, and remind customers to buy your products. It uses a mix that includes four elements: advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, and publicity or public relations.
Buzzword: Co-op Promotion
Co-op promotions are arrangements between two businesses to cross-promote their enterprises. When a soft drink can include a coupon good for a discount on the price of entry to an amusement park, that's a co-op. Countless variations exist.
Advertising is a large part of marketing and promotion for most businesses. In 2022, businesses spent $153 billion on online advertising, or nearly 62 percent of the whole. Television is a distant second with 22.7 percent. Outdoor advertising was third with only 5.2 percent. Print media advertising in newspapers and magazines combined didn't even reach 6 percent. Because most businesses cannot afford television ads, except in local markets, the choices come down to (primarily) print and the Internet.
Though the web is the place to be, print still offers some perks. For example, newspapers, magazines, and other forms of print are tangible and stay in people's view somewhere in the house—even on the rare occasion when the computer is turned off. Brand recognition is still easy to spot on the page or on a sign or billboard. Consumers tend to look longer at a print ad and skim less frequently than when they are looking at ads online, and because there are fewer print ads than in the past, your ad can stand out more. Of course. before you can advertise, you need to figure out why you are advertising: What are your goals?
You may be advertising to raise your corporate profile, to improve a tarnished image, or simply to generate foot traffic. Whatever you're after, it's important to set specific goals in terms of such things as revenue increase, unit volume growth for new business, inquiries, and so forth. Without specific objectives, it's hard to tell what you can afford to do and whether the campaign is living up to expectations.
Also, keep in mind that promotional plans, such as giveaways and freebies—caps, pens, T-shirts, and so on—should also be part of your plan to market your business.
Other Kinds of Promotion
Sales promotion is kind of a grab bag of promotional activities that don't fit elsewhere. If you offer free hot dogs to the first 100 people who come to your store on Saturday morning, that's a sales promotion. This category also includes in-store displays, trade shows, off-site demonstrations, and just about anything else that could increase sales and isn't included in the other categories.
Publicity is the darling of small businesses because it lets them get major exposure at minimal cost. If you volunteer to write a gardening column for your local newspaper or a blog for a gardening website, it can generate significant public awareness of your plant nursery and position you as a leading expert in the field, all for the price of a few hours a week spent jotting down some thoughts on a subject you already know very well. To buy comparable exposure might cost thousands of dollars. Press releases announcing favorable news about your company are one tool of publicity; similar releases downplaying bad news, if necessary, are the flip side.
Public relations is a somewhat broader term that refers to the image you present to the public at large, government entities, shareholders, and employees. You may work at public relations through such tools as your website, company newsletters, e-newsletters, legislative lobbying efforts, your annual report, and the like.
Whatever you do, don't neglect public relations and publicity. There is no cheaper or more powerful tool for promotion.
Scarcity and Urgency Work
Another popular approach to marketing is to make products more valuable via scarcity and present a sense of urgency through limited-time offers. From highly touted sales to special sales for preferred customers, a sense of "act now" works in your marketing plans. People also see value in a limited edition or an item that is not always easy to get. Don't make up false scarcity or customers may see through it—but think about what you may run out of and let people know they should order while it's still available. The home shopping channels made a fortune by having a clock ticking away so that people would run to their phones to purchase an item before it disappeared (until tomorrow). Disney offers its classic films for sale through television commercials that ask you to buy now before the film goes back into the vault for years to come.
Have a Follow-Up Plan
Customers may ask, "What have you done for me lately?" Investors and others reading your business plan want to know, "What are you going to do for me tomorrow?" Any serious business plan has to take note of the fact that every product has a life cycle, that pricing pressures change over time, that promotions need to stay fresh, and that new distribution opportunities are opening up all the time. So, the portion of your plan where you describe how you'll continue your success is a vital one.
The annals of business are full of companies that turned out to be one-trick ponies that introduced a product or service that zoomed to stardom but failed to follow it up with another winner. In the best cases, these companies survive but fade back into obscurity. In the worst cases, they fail to negotiate the switch from booming sales to declining sales and disappear completely.
Diversifying into more than one product is another good way to reduce the risk. It's a good idea to divert part of any boost in revenues to studying market trends and developing new products.
Investors looking at a plan, especially those contemplating long-term involvement, are alert to the risk of backing a one-trick entrepreneur. Showing competitive barriers that you've erected and systems for developing new products is an important part of calming their fears.
There's one caveat when it comes to learning new tricks, however. Very simple concepts are the easiest to communicate, and extremely focused companies usually show the fastest growth—although not always over the long term. So you don't want to appear, in the process of reducing risk, that you've lost sight of the answers to the key questions: What are you selling? How are you selling it? And why would anybody want to buy from you?
Business Plan Competitions
If you happen to be a business student, you may be able to enter your business plan in a college business plan competition. These competitions, of which there are more than three dozen in the United States, confer a measure of fame and even some money on the winners. A panel of plan experts including college professors, venture capitalists, and bankers usually judge entries.
Winners are the plans that best lay out a convincing case for a business's success. Judges can be tough; contestants can expect scathing criticism of poorly thought-out plans.
Venture Labs Investment Competition is the name of the best-known of the nation's business plan competitions. It's sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin. Venture Labs Investment Competition calls itself the "Super Bowl of world business-plan competition" and is the oldest of the approximately three dozen business school-sponsored plan competitions. More than two dozen plan-writing teams from as far away as Australia participate in the contest, which began in 1983.
Another major competition is the Rice Business Plan Competition . This very prestigious three-day competition is the largest and richest graduate-level student startup competition with more than $1 million in cash and prizes.
You'll also find competitions that are not sponsored by universities or business schools such as New York Start Up , an annual competition for New Yorkers starting for-profit businesses that offers cash prizes totaling up to $15,000. Sponsored by the New York Public Library and Wells Fargo, the competition began in 2010.
There are numerous state competitions such as the Rhode Island Business Competition . Started in 2000 by Garrett Hunter, then president of the Business Development Company of Rhode Island, the annual competition is designed for new businesses as well as those in the early development stages. Prizes of cash and in-kind services with a total value of at least $150,000 are awarded to a winner and two finalists.
Sometimes there is simply not enough time for someone to read your business plan or even hear a full presentation. Therefore, you need an elevator pitch. It is the ultra-short version of your plan featuring only the most significant of significant information, all presented in the time it takes for an elevator ride. Of course, the elevator pitch cannot replace the well-thought-out, detailed business plan, but it can drum up interest in reading one. Have such a pitch written, rehearsed, and ready to go. And, keep in mind, it can be harder to write the twenty- to thirty-second elevator pitch than the entire business plan. Each and every word carries more weight because (like on Twitter) you are very limited.
If you want to see winning elevator pitches by other business owners, check out the Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch show . Watching these videos will give you the tips you need to craft your own elevator pitch that will win you the deal, and if you are feeling fired up, apply to be on and get your brand exposure to millions of viewers.
Find Additional Resources
You can get mounds of economic and demographic marketing information—much of it free—from the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, contact the following office: Economic and Demographic Statistics, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, Data User Service Division, Customer Service, Washington, DC 20233, www.census.gov , or call (301) 763-4100.
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8+ Brand Strategic Plan Examples – PDF, Word, Docs
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The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Brand Marketing Plan
Now more than ever, brands need a robust and complete marketing plan – even before they have named their company. I am not kidding. Your marketing plan – which includes crucial sections such as brand strategy, positioning, brand naming, brand identity development, product development and pricing, outlining your distribution, sales and retention plans, marketing channels and campaigns etc should be the first thing to start working on when you have decided to launch a new brand.
The Importance of a Comprehensive Brand Marketing Plan
It is important to understand that there can be no such thing as a universal marketing plan. That is because each industry and market segment is different and how you approach the story or messaging for that sector would be different. This article is meant to be a general guide which layout all the important section you need to work on. If you are new to branding, then I suggest you start with this step by step guide first.
Scope of the marketing plan
Before anything else, I am sure we all agree that good planning is required to launch and run a successful business. A brand marketing plan is a roadmap that outlines all the strategies, tasks, activities and costs needed to make your venture a success. First we start with the plan’s scope to understand the goals and what we are taking on.
Here we start with describing our company, business and brand along with the markets we serve, the product or service we wish to sell and a high level description of the marketing plan, strategic goals and financial goals.
In this section we will outline how we plan to differentiate our brand and our offering in the marketplace and stand out in the competitive landscape. We need to research and document the characteristics of the market as well as build detailed buyer personas to understand the buyer’s journey.
In this section, we outline the entire experience that our target audience will have with our brand and our offering. We talk about the brand story, personality, vision and what we represent. We work out the promise we deliver to the market.
Product, Service and Pricing
In this section we describe our products and services and analyze their suitability in the market and the fit to our target market. We then define our pricing strategy which should be consistent with our positioning strategy and the value we are delivering to the market.
Distribution, Sales and Retention Plan
This section outlines the distribution channels we need to focus on to access our market along with any direct sales plans and upselling and cross-selling customers.
This section outlines the major marketing campaigns we could run, including email marketing, social media marketing, publicity and other traditional media.
Key Components of a Successful Brand Marketing Plan
I advocate a middle path. A great marketing plan should be detailed enough to act as a guide when we go about building the company and we refer to each section before engage in the activities. This is as important as knowing how to figure out the ROI of your marketing strategy .
To begin with, establish a rough timeline for your marketing plan and make sure you add in some padding and buffer for each section. Underestimating the time a particular section or task takes would be the downfall of any marketing plan.
In the objectives section of the company, we are trying to describe the company, the markets we serve, the products or services that we are offering and high level strategic goals.
The company introduction would serve to give any potential investors the background information on the brand and help make sense as to why the venture is interesting.
Products & Services
Clearly describe your product or service including details of the problems they solve and how they would make your customers lives better. You can not be too detailed and often as you go through this section, you will start realizing things about your product or service that you never thought of before and those that add more value to your brand.
A description of the market we want to play in along with a detailed description of market forces that may influence your brand . This is very critical to anticipate potential obstacles.
Here we list down some high level strategic goals such as perhaps increasing market share, out gunning competition, building brand awareness, creating strategic partnerships or increasing publicity.
Here we list potential numeric goals that our business must achieve. These include total revenues, new customers, distribution channels, market share etc.
It is all about standing out in the competitive landscape. But please do not confuse this being loud and attracting attention. That comes under marketing campaigns. Here we are talking about fundamental and real differentiation that goes deep into the soul of the brand.
Start by creating detailed market profile. Try and understand the pain points that your product or service is trying to address. Who are your customers? What is their world view? Create detailed and robust buyer personas.
When analyzing the market, you should look at the following:
- The industry or industries you are addressing
- Define the market size
- The geographical area you plan to cover
- If it is B2B then the idea company size, stage and structure
- Who makes the buying decisions?
- How is the competitive landscape ?
- Trends in your market
- Is your market growing or contracting?
- What are the influences on the market?
- What stage is your market lifecycle – introduction, growth, maturity or decline?
The last one is particularly import to figure out since the stage of your market lifecycle will determine your positioning approach. For example:
- If your market is in the growth stage then you would focus on why your target market should buy from you and how you are different and better than your competition.
- If your market is in the maturity stage then you would be better off focusing on why your product or service is better. You may have to look at your pricing strategy more carefully in this stage.
- If your market is in the decline stage, then you may be forced to focus on price or try and go niche while innovating to increase market share or the price.
Market Segmentation / Buyer Personas
Your market segmentation can be based on one or more of the following:
- The problems being faced by your potential customers and the solutions they have on hand
- The buyer personas themselves
- Purely industry or geographic segments
When evaluating problems faced by your customers, consider the following:
- How are your potential customers solving their problem at the moment?
- How is the competition solving these problems for your customers?
- Do you have a better solution you can offer?
- What is the most important thing to your customers?
- Why should the customers buy from you rather than your competition?
When looking at your product or service, be very critical. Do you merely think that you have a better solution or is it really the case? Most businesses think they have a better product or service. The reality is the very few really do have a differentiating offering.
Creating a detailed and realistic buyer persona can shed light into your customers world view and enable you to craft a positioning strategy that will directly connect with them. The goal is to create a strategy that will make your brand a cult.
Here is a detailed guide on how to create buyer personas .
Thinking about your competitors is an important part of your positioning strategy. You will need to research your competition for your brand success. By doing this you will also be able to shed light on new opportunities or identify mindshare owned by an competitor that you can aspire to.
Start by figuring out the criteria that you will use to rate your competitors against your brand. Different market segments may require different criteria so don’t be lazy when coming up with the list. Examples if the criteria could be things like price, quality, uniqueness, features, service, innovation, brand recall, reputation, market share and so on.
Once you have completed the rating, try and answer questions such as
- Where do you score high or low in term of categories?
- Are there any categories where you score quite low?
- Do you see any categories where you think you can improve the score right away?
Dovetailing from this, it would also help if you can try and figure out your competitors value propositions. Value propositions can be of three types – either your competitors deliver value through operational efficiency or they do so with product leadership and innovation or they have super customer service which makes them stand out. Knowing which of these three options your competitors are utilizing in their positioning strategy would be invaluable.
A brand strategy would include the messages your broadcast, the service your provide, your terms and your policies, the emotion your brand evokes and the personality of your brand.
Figuring out the emotion that your brand needs to tap is fundamental to your brand strategy. Part of this is to determine wether your brand is focusing on features or benefits. It is not enough to simply say that your brand should always talk about the benefits of your product or service. Some markets may require focus on presenting the features while others would benefit from talking about the benefits.
In an article on how to create an emotional brand , I listed the following tips which help create a winning brand essence:
- Differentiate Between “Features” And “Benefits” – a feature is something that your product or service does while a benefit is how your customer feels from using the product or service.
- Understand What Needs People Have – Figuring out which features of your product or service would translate to emotional benefits should be done with caution and by always keeping in line with your brand’s core values . If an emotional benefit seems manipulative and counter initiate to what your brand stands for, it should not be used.
- Use Emotions To Differentiate Your Brand – If you can figure your brand’s genuine emotional values and communicate that effectively, then you will differentiate your brand and gain not only mind share but also market share.
- What Does Your Brand Mean To Your Customers? – Figuring out what your brand means or should mean to your customers is a critical task when building a successful brand. Does your brand stand for something in your customer’s minds? Does it connect with them in a unique and fresh way? Does it inspire trust and confidence in them?
To define the experience prospects and customers should have with your brand, start with identifying the personality traits of your brand. If your brand was a human, how would you describe her? Human personality traits would help you come up with creative messaging that would leave your target audience with a great brand experience.
What does your brand stand for? What promise(s) do you make to your target audience?
The first think to note is that a brand promise is not simply a description of what the company does or offers to its customers. It is what it promises them beyond the service or product on offer. It is the promise of how it will deliver value to the market place.
Brand Visual Language
When business owners look at their brand’s visual imagery, they usually think of the obvious ones such as their logo design, stationery design and perhaps a few other elements such as their social media channels and their website design all of which simply have their logo slapped onto them.
But a brand’s visual imagery goes much deeper than that. It goes into secondary brand marks, official brand patterns, package design, tone of brand visual imagery & photos and more.
Translating your brand mission into a distinctive visual identity is fundamental to differentiating your brand in the market.
Product, Service & Pricing
Bad pricing can kill your business . Your pricing strategy must be based on value . Or at least you should strive to get to that. As mentioned above, if your market lifecycle stage is either mature or declining, then you will be sucked into pricing wars just to keep up with competition. In those situations, this guide and the mantra of brand positioning strategy is even more important.
Price your product or service too low and you will attract the wrong customer . Price it too high and you will edge yourself out of the market. The trick is to build your brand in such a way that you do not have to be at the mercy of marketing pricing and can command a premium.
If your value proposition is one of being operationally efficient then you can afford to have pricing similar to or even lower than your competition to succeed. If you are a product leader or innovator then you can afford to have premium prices. And if your customer service is the driver and you deliver luxury experiences , then you can command luxury prices.
Distribution & Sales Plans
There can be many different types of distribution channels and it is time to analyze and identify which ones you should focus on. Channels can include direct sales, online sales, catalog sales, wholesales and distributor sales, dealers and retail sales etc.
If you planning on launching a new product or service into a large market fairly rapidly, then going for a channel with a large sales force or a large retailer would be the best strategy. Of is you are trying to grow your revenue quickly then you will have to look at multiple streams of revenue through multiple channels.
Once you have identified your main distribution channels, you can then outline a sales plan summary for each of them. Use the buyer personas you had created above to aid in your finding out the best sales tactics to use. For example, if your buyer hangs out on Facebook a lot then your sales plan should include sales offers, discounts, coupons and other social media marketing tactics .
At this stage, you do not need to list every single detail of the campaigns you will run in a given time period – a quarter or for the full year etc. You simply need to outline high-level plans with a few ideas and perhaps even a rough indication of the budget.
A few examples of items in your campaigns plan:
- Top 3-4 campaigns you will run and the channels they would be in
- How you plan to use media (emails, social media etc)
- Software and tools you plan to use
- Some rough goals that the campaigns should generate
Although these campaigns plans may significantly change when they are implemented, at this stage, they would serve to give you milestones on the marketing calendar and also help with budgeting.
Expert Strategies for Developing a Winning Brand Marketing Plan
Developing a winning brand marketing plan involves a lot of strategic thinking, research, and understanding of your target audience. Ensuring that your marketing efforts effectively represent your brand and resonate with your customers is essential. Here are some expert strategies for developing a successful brand marketing plan:
1. Understand Your Brand Identity: Your brand identity is the image your business presents. It includes your brand’s personality, values, and purpose. Take time to understand and define your brand identity, as it will form the foundation of your marketing plan.
2. Define Your Target Audience: Your marketing efforts will be much more effective if they are targeted towards a specific group of people most likely to be interested in your product or service. Use market research to understand your audience’s demographics, preferences, and buying habits.
3. Set Clear Marketing Goals: What do you want to achieve with your marketing plan? Is it to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or boost sales? Setting clear, measurable goals will give your marketing plan direction and purpose.
4. Develop a Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Your UVP sets your brand apart. It should clearly communicate the unique benefits customers can expect when choosing your brand.
5. Choose the Right Marketing Channels: Different marketing channels are effective for different purposes and audiences. Consider your marketing goals and target audience when choosing which channels to use. These could include social media, email marketing, content marketing, SEO, and more.
6. Create a Content Marketing Strategy: Content marketing is a powerful way to engage your audience and build brand awareness. Develop a strategy for creating valuable, relevant content to attract and retain your target audience.
7. Monitor and Adjust Your Plan: Your marketing plan should be flexible. Monitor your results regularly and be prepared to adjust your strategies if they are not working as well as you had hoped. Use analytics tools to track your performance and make data-driven decisions.
8. Leverage Influencer Marketing: Influencers can help amplify your brand message to a larger audience. Consider incorporating influencer marketing into your plan if it suits your brand and target audience.
9. Incorporate Social Responsibility: Consumers value brands that take social responsibility seriously today. Consider how your brand can positively impact the community or environment and incorporate this into your marketing plan.
10. Create a Marketing Budget: Determine how much you will spend on your marketing efforts. Your budget should be realistic and consider all possible expenses, such as advertising costs, content creation, and software subscriptions.
Remember, a successful brand marketing plan is a living document that should continually evolve as your business grows and changes. It requires regular review and adjustment to ensure it remains effective.
Crafting Your Brand Message: Best Practices and Examples
Crafting your brand message is crucial in defining your company’s identity, values, and purpose. It’s the core idea you wish to communicate to your target audience, serving as the foundation for all your marketing and advertising efforts. Here are some best practices and examples to guide you in crafting an effective brand message:
- Simplicity: Keep your brand message simple. Your target audience should easily understand it. Avoid using jargon or complex language that could confuse or alienate potential customers.
- Consistency: Maintain consistency in your brand message across all platforms and channels. This will help to reinforce your brand identity and make it more memorable.
- Authenticity: Your brand message should reflect your company’s true values and mission. Authenticity builds consumer trust and can help foster a loyal customer base.
- Resonance: Make sure your brand message resonates with your target audience. It should speak to their needs, desires, and challenges, helping to establish a meaningful connection between your brand and its customers.
- Nike – “Just Do It”: Nike’s brand message is an excellent example of simplicity and resonance. It’s a call to action that embodies the brand’s ethos of empowerment and determination, resonating with athletes and non-athletes alike.
- Apple – “Think Different”: This brand message encapsulates Apple’s commitment to innovation and individuality. It authenticly reflects the company’s mission to challenge the status quo and provide unique technological solutions.
- Patagonia – “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”: This message captures Patagonia’s dedication to quality, sustainability, and corporate responsibility. It resonates with consumers who value environmental conservation and ethical business practices.
By following these best practices and taking inspiration from successful examples, you can craft a brand message that effectively communicates your company’s identity, values, and purpose to your target audience.
Admittedly this is a vast topic that I chose to write into a single article. I did however include a lot of links and references to other detailed articles on each of the concepts that I introduce here. Marketing is an art and this guide will help you get started on a blueprint. As go along, you will have to adjust the plan according to your own situation, market, brand values and so on.
If you have any direct questions about this topic, please feel free to reach to me from our Contact Page .
Frequently asked questions
Why is a comprehensive brand marketing plan important.
A comprehensive brand marketing plan is crucial for numerous reasons:
Clear Direction and Focus: A well-defined marketing plan outlines your brand’s objectives, strategies, and tactics, providing a clear roadmap. It enables you to focus on your goals, ensuring your efforts are directed toward achieving them.
Understanding Your Audience: A crucial part of any marketing plan is identifying and understanding your target audience. This allows you to tailor your products, services, and messaging to meet their needs and preferences, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Competitive Analysis: Your marketing plan should include an analysis of your competition, enabling you to understand their strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities to differentiate your brand.
Budget Management: A comprehensive marketing plan helps you allocate your resources effectively. By knowing what activities you’ll undertake, you can budget accordingly and ensure your marketing spend delivers the best return on investment.
Measurement and Evaluation: Your marketing plan should also outline how you will measure and evaluate your marketing activities. This allows you to understand what’s working and what isn’t, enabling you to adjust your strategies and tactics.
Consistency: A comprehensive plan ensures all your marketing activities are aligned with your brand identity and messaging. This consistency is key to building a strong, recognizable brand.
Stakeholder Communication: A clear plan communicates your marketing strategy to all stakeholders, including employees, investors, and partners. This ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
In conclusion, a comprehensive brand marketing plan is crucial because it provides direction, helps understand your audience and competition, manages your budget, allows for measuring and evaluating efforts, ensures consistency, and effectively communicates with all stakeholders. Without it, your marketing efforts might be disjointed, inefficient, and less effective.
What are the key components of a successful brand marketing plan?
A successful brand marketing plan encompasses several key components:
Executive Summary: This provides a high-level overview of your entire marketing plan. It includes your business’s mission statement, branding, and key marketing elements.
Market Research: Understanding your market landscape is crucial. This includes the size of your market, customer demographics, buying habits, trends, and the competitive landscape.
Target Audience: Defining your target audience in detail will guide your marketing strategies. This includes their demographics, psychographics, needs, preferences, and behavior.
Brand Positioning: This defines how your brand differentiates itself from competitors and how it is perceived in the minds of your target audience.
Goals and Objectives: These are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that align with your business objectives.
Marketing Strategies: These are the high-level approaches you’ll take to achieve your marketing goals. Strategies should cover all aspects of the marketing mix: product, price, place, and promotion.
Tactics and Action Plan: This is a detailed plan of the specific marketing activities you will implement to execute your strategies. It includes timelines, responsibilities, and budget allocations.
Budget: This outlines the financial investment you’ll make in your marketing efforts. It includes projections for expected costs and returns.
Measurement and Evaluation: This details how you’ll track the success of your marketing efforts, including the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use.
Contingency Plan: This outlines your plan of action if things don’t go as expected. It helps you adapt quickly to market changes or unexpected outcomes.
These components are not standalone elements but interconnected aspects that, when integrated effectively, create a comprehensive, actionable, and measurable plan. By ensuring that each component is thoroughly developed, you can set your brand up for success in the marketplace.
How do I develop a brand message that resonates with my target audience?
Developing a brand message that resonates with your target audience involves deeply understanding your audience and clearly articulating your brand’s values and unique selling proposition.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Understand Your Target Audience: The first step in crafting a resonant brand message is understanding your target audience. You need to know their needs, preferences, and pain points. What are their values? What are they looking for in products or services like yours? Surveys, focus groups, and social listening can help you gather this information.
Define Your Brand’s Values: Your brand’s values are the guiding principles that define your company’s behavior and decision-making process. They should align with the values of your target audience to create a strong connection.
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Your USP sets you apart from the competition. It’s the unique value you bring to customers that they can’t get elsewhere. Your USP should be at the heart of your brand message.
Craft Your Brand Message: Now that you understand your audience, values, and USP, you can craft your brand message. This message should be concise, clear, and compelling. It should communicate who you are, what you offer, and why it matters.
Test Your Message: Before rolling out your brand message, test it with a small target audience segment. This will allow you to see how it resonates and make any necessary adjustments.
Consistently Communicate Your Message: Once your brand message is finalized, it should be consistently communicated across all your marketing channels. Whether it’s your website, social media, or print advertising, your brand message should be front and center.
Remember, a brand message is not just about selling products or services. It’s about connecting with your audience emotionally, building trust, and cultivating long-term customer relationships. It’s about telling a story that your audience wants to be a part of.
How do I measure the success of my brand marketing plan?
Measuring the success of your brand marketing plan involves tracking various metrics and indicators that align with your marketing goals. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can do it:
Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs are measurable outcomes that align with your marketing goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, KPIs could include metrics such as website traffic, social media followers, or the number of times your brand is mentioned on social media.
Use Analytics Tools: There are various tools available that can help you track your KPIs. For instance, Google Analytics can provide insights into your website traffic. At the same time, social media platforms often have built-in analytics that can show you engagement metrics like likes, shares, and comments. Email marketing software can track open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
Monitor Sales and Revenue: Sales and revenue are ultimately the bottom line for most businesses, so tracking these metrics is crucial. Monitor whether there’s an increase in sales or revenue after implementing your marketing plan.
Track Customer Behavior: Customer behavior metrics, like engagement rates, conversion rates, or customer lifetime value, can provide valuable insights into how your target audience interacts with your brand.
Conduct Surveys and Get Feedback: Customer surveys and feedback can give you qualitative data on how your brand is perceived and how satisfied your customers are. This can complement the quantitative data you get from other metrics.
Perform a Competitive Analysis: Look at how your brand performs compared to your competitors. This can give you context for your metrics and provide insights into areas you need to improve.
Review and Adjust Regularly: Marketing plans should be dynamic and adjust based on performance. Regularly review your metrics and make necessary changes to your plan to improve performance.
Remember, measuring the success of your marketing plan isn’t just about looking at the numbers. It’s also about interpreting what those numbers mean for your brand and using that information to refine your marketing strategy.
How can I adapt my brand marketing plan to changing market conditions?
Adapting your brand marketing plan to changing market conditions is crucial for staying relevant and competitive. Here’s how you can do it:
Stay Informed: The first step in adapting to changing market conditions is staying informed. Keep up with industry news, follow trends, and monitor your competitors. This will give you a sense of the changes that might be coming and how they could affect your business.
Be Flexible: A rigid marketing plan can leave you unprepared for sudden market shifts. Build flexibility into your plan to quickly adjust your strategies and tactics as needed. This could involve allocating part of your budget to “experimental” campaigns that you can use to test new approaches.
Use Data: Utilize market data and analytics to inform your decision-making. This can help you identify trends, anticipate changes, and make evidence-based decisions about how to adapt your plan.
Monitor Customer Behavior: Stay tuned to how your customers are behaving. Are their needs or preferences changing? Are they starting to move toward your competitors? Monitoring customer behavior can give you early signs of changing market conditions.
Revise Your Goals: If market conditions change significantly, you may need to revise your marketing goals. For instance, during an economic downturn, you might shift your focus from acquiring new customers to retaining existing ones.
Communicate and Collaborate: Make sure your entire team knows the changes and their implications. Collaboration can lead to new ideas and strategies for adapting to the new conditions.
Leverage Technology: Use technology to adapt to changes faster. This could involve using social media to reach new audiences, investing in an e-commerce platform to capitalize on online shopping trends, or using AI to personalize your marketing messages.
Evaluate and Learn: After you’ve made adjustments, evaluate the results. Did your new approach work? What can you learn from it? Use these insights to refine your marketing plan continually.
Remember, change is a constant in business. The companies that succeed can often adapt and innovate in the face of changing market conditions.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when developing a brand marketing plan?
Developing a brand marketing plan requires careful planning and strategic thinking. However, some common mistakes can hinder your efforts and affect your brand’s success. Here are some of them:
Not Understanding Your Target Audience: One of the most common mistakes is not understanding your target audience. Your marketing efforts may miss the mark without a clear picture of who you’re trying to reach. Conduct market research to understand your audience’s needs, preferences, and behaviors.
Lack of Clear Goals: Your marketing plan should have measurable objectives. Without specific goals, it’s difficult to track progress or determine if your marketing efforts are successful.
Ignoring the Competition: While focusing on your brand is essential, ignoring your competitors is a mistake. Understanding what they’re doing can provide valuable insights into market trends and reveal opportunities for your brand.
Not Aligning with the Overall Business Strategy: Your brand marketing plan shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. It should align with your overall business strategy and goals. This ensures that all areas of your business are working towards the same objectives.
Neglecting to Measure Success: You can’t know if your marketing efforts are successful without measurement. Ensure you have a system to track key metrics related to your goals.
Inconsistent Brand Messaging: Consistency in brand messaging is crucial for building brand recognition and trust. If your messaging is inconsistent, it can confuse your audience and dilute your brand image.
Not Being Flexible: Market trends and consumer behavior can change rapidly. If your marketing plan is too rigid, it may not be able to adapt to these changes, making it less effective.
Underestimating the Importance of Content: Content is a critical component of brand marketing. Neglecting to create high-quality, relevant content can result in lost opportunities to engage your audience and build your brand.
Not Leveraging Social Media Effectively: In today’s digital age, social media is a powerful tool for brand marketing. Not using it effectively or ignoring it can hinder your reach and engagement.
Not Investing in SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) can help increase your brand’s visibility online. Ignoring SEO can result in less traffic to your website and lower brand awareness.
By being aware of these common mistakes, you can ensure your brand marketing plan is comprehensive, strategic, and set up for success.
How do I ensure a cohesive brand identity across all channels?
Ensuring a cohesive brand identity across all channels is critical for brand recognition and consistency. Here are some steps to achieve this:
Define Your Brand Guidelines: Start by defining clear guidelines that include your brand’s mission, values, personality, and tone of voice. Also, include visual elements such as your logo, color palette, typography, and imagery style. These guidelines should serve as the foundation for all your brand communications.
Consistent Messaging: Your brand’s message should remain consistent across all platforms. This includes your website, social media, emails, print materials, and other marketing channels. Consistent messaging reinforces your brand’s identity and makes it more recognizable to your audience.
Visual Consistency: Your brand’s visual elements should be consistent across all channels. Use the same logo, color scheme, and typography everywhere your brand is present. This helps your audience instantly recognize your brand.
Consistent Tone of Voice: Your brand’s tone of voice is how you communicate your message and should reflect your brand’s personality. Whether it’s professional, friendly, or witty, ensure it’s consistent across all communication channels.
Align Content With Your Brand: All content, whether it’s a blog post, a social media update, or a newsletter, should align with your brand and its values. It should reinforce what your brand stands for and resonate with your target audience.
Regular Audits: Regularly review your brand’s presence across all channels to ensure consistency. An audit can help identify areas where your brand’s identity may be diluted or inconsistent.
Train Your Team: Everyone involved in communicating your brand to the public should understand your brand guidelines. Regular training ensures everyone is on the same page and maintains consistency.
Responsive and Adaptive Design: With the multitude of devices available today, it’s important that your brand looks consistent across all device types. Responsive and adaptive design can ensure that your branding remains consistent, regardless of how your audience access your content.
Ensuring a cohesive brand identity across all channels can create a stronger brand image, build trust with your audience, and enhance your overall marketing efforts.
How does brand marketing contribute to long-term growth and success?
Brand marketing is critical to a company’s long-term growth and success by enhancing visibility, building customer loyalty, and driving business results.
Customer Recognition: Effective brand marketing makes your business easily recognizable to potential customers. A strong brand stands out in a crowded marketplace, helping to capture customer attention and differentiate from competitors.
Customer Loyalty and Trust: A consistent and reliable brand fosters customer loyalty and trust. Over time, as customers receive high-quality products or services and have positive experiences with your brand, they become more likely to continue doing business with you and recommend you to others.
Increased Business Value: A strong brand often brings a business more leverage in the industry, increases its value, and makes it more appealing to investors. This is particularly beneficial when trying to generate future business, whether through expansion, partnerships, or even selling the business.
New Customer Acquisition: Good branding retains existing customers and helps attract new ones. Word-of-mouth referrals are more likely when your brand is well-known and trusted.
Employee Satisfaction and Attraction: Employees often take pride in working for a well-branded company. It makes them feel part of something significant and successful, boosting morale and productivity. Additionally, a strong brand can attract top talent.
Support for Marketing Efforts: A robust brand can make marketing efforts more effective and efficient. For example, if your business is recognized for quality and reliability, marketing campaigns can focus more on introducing new products or services rather than convincing customers of your reputation.
Resilience During Market Changes: A strong brand can provide security during market fluctuations. Even when the economic environment becomes challenging, loyal customers will likely stick with the brands they know and trust.
Better Financial Returns: Finally, strong brands often enjoy a premium in the market. Customers are willing to pay more for brands they trust and perceive as high-quality.
By focusing on brand marketing, companies can create a lasting, positive perception of their business, attract and retain customers, and ultimately drive long-term growth and success.
What is The Role of Brand Marketing in Driving Long-Term Growth?
Brand marketing is pivotal in driving long-term growth for businesses of all sizes across various industries. Here’s how:
Establishing Brand Identity and Awareness: The primary objective of brand marketing is to build a strong brand identity and enhance brand awareness. A well-defined brand identity lets customers quickly recognize your brand, its values, and its offerings. Higher brand awareness increases the probability that consumers choose your brand over competitors when purchasing.
Building Trust and Credibility: Consistent brand marketing can help establish your brand as trustworthy and credible. By consistently delivering on your brand promises and maintaining a strong brand image, you can earn the trust of your customers. Trust is a vital element for long-term customer relationships and loyalty.
Enhancing Customer Loyalty and Retention: Effective brand marketing emphasizes customer satisfaction and experience, which are critical for enhancing customer loyalty and retention. Loyal customers generate steady revenue and can also become brand advocates, promoting your brand within their networks and contributing to your brand’s growth.
Differentiating from Competitors: Brand marketing allows your business to differentiate itself from competitors. It communicates your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), making your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace. This differentiation can result in increased market share and growth.
Facilitating Expansion into New Markets: A strong brand can make it easier for your business to expand into new markets or introduce new products. Consumers in a new market are likelier to try products from a brand they recognize and trust.
Influencing Purchase Decisions: A robust brand influences consumers’ purchase decisions by creating a positive perception and emotional connection. Customers are often willing to pay a premium for a brand they perceive as high quality or aligning with their values.
Attracting Talent: A well-regarded brand can also help attract top-tier talent. Employees want to work for brands they respect and admire, which can lead to a more skilled and dedicated workforce, driving further growth.
In summary, brand marketing is an investment in your business’s future. It contributes to long-term growth by building a strong brand identity, differentiating your offerings, fostering customer loyalty, facilitating expansion, and attracting high-quality employees.
Marketing Efforts: These are activities undertaken by a company to promote and sell its products or services, such as advertising, sales promotions, and public relations.
Target Audience: This is the specific group of people a company wants to reach with its marketing messages. They are the most likely to buy the company’s products or services.
Marketing Strategies: These are long-term, forward-looking approaches to planning with the fundamental goal of achieving sustainable competitive advantage.
Marketing Budgets: This refers to the financial allocation made towards all marketing activities, including advertising, public relations, direct marketing, online marketing, and promotional activities.
Marketing Campaigns: These are organized efforts to promote a specific product or service for a defined period.
Marketing Channels: These are the mediums a company uses to communicate and interact with its target audience, such as social media, email, direct mail, and more.
Email Marketing: This form of marketing uses email to promote products or services and develop relationships with potential customers or clients.
Customer Experience: This is a customer’s perception of a brand or company based on all interactions throughout the customer journey.
Loyal Customers: These customers consistently purchase from a company over an extended period.
Marketing Goals: These are specific objectives a business sets that guide its marketing strategy and efforts, such as increasing brand awareness or boosting sales.
Content Marketing: This strategic marketing approach focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive profitable customer action.
Marketing Teams: These are groups of professionals who work together to develop and implement marketing strategies for a company.
Solid Brand Marketing Strategy: This is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand to achieve specific goals. A well-defined brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments.
Marketing Plan: This is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines a company’s advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year.
Customer Base: This refers to the group of customers who repeatedly purchase the goods or services of a business. These customers are the primary source of revenue for a company.
Potential Customers: These individuals have shown interest in a company’s product or service and will likely become paying customers with the proper marketing and sales strategies.
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The 7 Best Business Plan Examples
So you want to start a business . Kudos! You’re doing big things.
One of the first steps to building a strong foundation for your new venture is to write a rock-solid business plan . When done right, your business plan can pave your path to success, all while helping you to smoothly cruise through any obstacles that may come up.
Plus, a good business plan can help you secure critical partnerships and funding that you might need in your early stages.
If you’re unsure how to write one, a great place to start is to learn from the pros. In this article, we’ll look at companies that built incredible business plans.
Take notes on the structure, format, and details. Hopefully you’ll leave with plenty of inspiration to write your own.
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7-part template for business plan examples
We’ll look at a business plan that is structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick review of those parts:
- Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
- Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
- Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
- Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
- Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
- Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
- Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, here’s the place to discuss your request and needs.
7 business plan examples (section by section)
In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together.
- Executive summary
Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information.
In ThoughtCo’s sample business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management Technology, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:
- Company description
You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:
- Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
- Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market.
- Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
- Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
- Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.
You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan.
- Market analysis
Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis we did for a hypothetical ecommerce business:
You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component for your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition.
- Products and services
This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here —a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.
- Marketing plan
Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. As such, it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt.
Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.
Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:
Logistics and operations
This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, production, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.
The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state. For example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.
It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:
- Funding needs
- Project cash-flow statement
- Project profit-and-loss statement
- Projected balance sheet
You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet.
Types of business plan (and what to write for each)
A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized.
- Logistics and operations plan
A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea —market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points.
- Market research: in depth
- Financials: in depth
Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal.
- Market research
A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan.
Mix and match to make a killer business plan
The good news is: there’s no single right way to write a business plan. If you’re feeling unsure about how to craft yours, pull bits and pieces that you like from other examples, and leave out the parts that don’t apply or make sense for you.
The important thing is to clearly communicate your reason for starting the company, what’s needed to operate it, and how you plan to make it work in the long run.
When you can convince others that you have a killer game plan, you’ve nailed it.
Want to learn more?
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Cosmetic Business Plan Template
Written by Dave Lavinsky
Cosmetic Business Plan
Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their cosmetic companies.
If you’re unfamiliar with creating a cosmetic business plan, you may think creating one will be a time-consuming and frustrating process. For most entrepreneurs it is, but for you, it won’t be since we’re here to help. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to help you create a great business plan.
In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write a cosmetic business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.
Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan provides a snapshot of your cosmetic business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.
Why You Need a Business Plan
If you’re looking to start a cosmetic business or grow your existing cosmetic company, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your cosmetic business to improve your chances of success. Your cosmetic business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.
Sources of Funding for Cosmetic Businesses
With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a cosmetic business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for cosmetic companies.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Cosmetic Business
If you want to start a cosmetic business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your cosmetic business plan.
Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.
The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of cosmetic business you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a cosmetic business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of cosmetic businesses?
Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan.
- Give a brief overview of the cosmetic industry.
- Discuss the type of cosmetic business you are operating.
- Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers.
- Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team.
- Offer an overview of your financial plan.
In your company overview, you will detail the type of cosmetic business you are operating.
For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of cosmetic businesses:
- Niche market cosmetics: This type of cosmetic business specializes in one particular segment of cosmetics. For instance, a niche cosmetic business could sell only fragrance-free products, all vegan products, or gluten free products.
- High-end cosmetics: This type of cosmetic business develops and sells premium make-up and skin care products.
- Kids cosmetics: This type of cosmetic business specializes in producing inexpensive play-makeup products for children.
- Beauty blogger/influencer: This type of cosmetic business involves trying out products from different types of cosmetic brands and providing tutorials, reviews, and other helpful information for people who may be interested in the products. Usually, beauty companies will pay the blogger/influencer to sample or endorse their products.
- Make-up Artist: This type of cosmetic business involves providing make-up services for special occasions like weddings or graduation ceremonies.
In addition to explaining the type of cosmetic business you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.
Include answers to questions such as:
- When and why did you start the business?
- What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of customers served, the number of products sold, and reaching $X amount in revenue, etc.
- Your legal business Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.
In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the cosmetic industry.
While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.
First, researching the cosmetic industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.
Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.
The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.
The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your cosmetic business plan:
- How big is the cosmetic industry (in dollars)?
- Is the market declining or increasing?
- Who are the key competitors in the market?
- Who are the key suppliers in the market?
- What trends are affecting the industry?
- What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
- What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your cosmetic business? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.
The customer analysis section of your cosmetic business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.
The following are examples of customer segments: individuals, families, and corporations.
As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of cosmetic business you operate. Clearly, individuals would respond to different marketing promotions than corporations, for example.
Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.
Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.
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Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.
Direct competitors are other cosmetic businesses.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes mass market cosmetic brands and retailers, as well as secondhand cosmetic retailers. You need to mention such competition as well.
For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as
- What types of customers do they serve?
- What type of cosmetic business are they?
- What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
- What are they good at?
- What are their weaknesses?
With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.
The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:
- Will you make it easier for customers to acquire your products?
- Will you offer products or services that your competition doesn’t?
- Will you provide better customer service?
- Will you offer better pricing?
Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.
Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a cosmetic business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:
Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of cosmetic company that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide premium make-up, skin care products, or esthetician services?
Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your plan, you are presenting the products and/or services you offer and their prices.
Place : Place refers to the site of your cosmetic company. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your cosmetic business located in a busy retail district, a business district, a standalone store, or purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.
Promotions : The final part of your cosmetic marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:
- Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
- Reach out to websites
- Distribute flyers
- Engage in email marketing
- Advertise on social media platforms
- Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords
While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.
Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your cosmetic business, including answering calls, stocking shelves, greeting customers, and collecting payments, etc.
Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to acquire your Xth customer, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your cosmetic business to a new city.
To demonstrate your cosmetic business’ potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.
Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing cosmetic businesses. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.
If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing a cosmetic business or successfully running a small salon.
Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.
In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you expect to serve 20-30 customers per day, and will each customer purchase 1-5 items on average? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.
Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your cosmetic business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.
Cash Flow Statement
Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.
When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a cosmetic business:
- Cost of equipment and supplies
- Payroll or salaries paid to staff
- Business insurance
- Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment
Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or photos of happy customers using your products.
Writing a business plan for your cosmetic business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, you will be able to prepare a winning beauty product business plan, makeup business plan or a business plan for a cosmetic company. You will understand the cosmetic industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful cosmetic business.
Cosmetic Business Plan FAQs
What is the easiest way to complete my cosmetic business plan.
Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily write your cosmetic business plan.
How Do You Start a Cosmetic Business?
Starting a cosmetic business is easy with these 14 steps:
- Choose the Name for Your Cosmetic Business
- Create Your Cosmetic Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Cosmetic Business
- Secure Startup Funding for Cosmetic Business (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Cosmetic Business with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Cosmetic Business
- Buy or Lease the Right Cosmetic Business Equipment
- Develop Your Cosmetic Business Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Cosmetic Business
- Open for Business
Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Cosmetic business plan?
OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You
Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.
Click here to see how Growthink’s business plan writers can create your business plan for you.
Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates
Struggling ASOS explores sale of Topshop brand
The online retailer is examining whether to dispose of what was one of the British high street's best-known fashion brands as part of its turnaround plan, Sky News learns.
City editor @MarkKleinmanSky
Saturday 28 October 2023 11:01, UK
ASOS, the London-listed online fashion retailer, is exploring a sale of the Topshop brand it bought from the wreckage of Sir Philip Green's collapsed retail empire less than three years ago.
Sky News has learnt that ASOS, which will publish its delayed full-year results next week, is at the early stages of a process that could see it offload what was once one of the best-known names on the high street.
City sources said this weekend that a sale was not certain to proceed, and it was unclear how much ASOS might raise from selling the brand.
It was unclear whether any talks are already taking place with potential buyers.
A potential disposal is said to be one of the options being examined by Jose Antonio Ramos Calamonte, who took over as chief executive last year.
He unveiled a 12-month turnaround plan last October focused on sharpening it operating performance and reducing costs, but has been caught in the vice-like grip of soaring inflation and declining consumer spending power.
Mr Calamonte has reduced stock by 30%, exceeding a key target, and refinanced part of its borrowings.
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In May, ASOS announced it had secured £275m of new debt facilities from Bantry Bay Capital, a specialist lender which also has exposure to UK retailers including Superdry.
This week, it said it would delay its annual results and strategy update until next Wednesday to enable PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), its auditor, to "complete its planned testing".
The company, which has seen its shares plunge by 40% over the last year, bought Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands in February 2021 after a fiercely fought auction run by the administrators to Arcadia Group.
The deal valued the assets at £265m, although inventory and forward purchase orders took the overall price to £330m.
The disclosure that it may now be for sale again is likely to reawaken interest from some of the losing bidders in that process.
These could include ABG, the owner of Ted Baker and a stake in David Beckham's consumer brands business, and JD Sports Fashion.
Next would also be expected to examine an offer, having snapped up high street brands such as FatFace and a big stake in Reiss.
The most obvious bidder, however, would be Frasers Group, the high street conglomerate which owns retail names ranging from Sports Direct and Jack Wills to Evans Cycles and Gieves & Hawkes.
Frasers is already one of the biggest shareholders in ASOS, with its stakebuilding fuelling suggestions of a potential bid or attempt to engineer a merger with rival online retailer Boohoo.
On Friday, Sky News revealed that Frasers, founded by the billionaire Mike Ashley, was among the suitors circling WiggleCRC, owner of the online cycling brands Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles, which has fallen into administration.
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Topshop was the jewel in the crown of Sir Philip's empire for years, providing the platform for him to become feted as 'the king of the high street'.
In 2012, he sold a 25% stake in his Topshop and Topman subsidiaries to Leonard Green & Partners, an American private equity firm, in a deal that valued them at £2bn.
Shares in ASOS closed on Friday at 385.6p, giving it a market value of £467m.
An ASOS spokesman said: "ASOS as a policy does not comment on rumour or speculation."
18+ SAMPLE Clothing Business Plan in PDF | MS Word | Google Docs | Apple Pages |
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Step 1: write the executive summary, step 2: state company description and competitive edge, step 3: elaborate on your products and services, step 4: define marketing strategy, step 5: add a marketing and advertising plan, step 6: draft your production and operations plan, share this post on your network, you may also like these articles, 44+ sample floor plans in pdf | ms word | google docs | apple pages.
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What Is a Business Plan?
Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.
- A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
- Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
- For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
- There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.
Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."
Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.
There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.
Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.
While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.
While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.
Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.
The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.
These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:
- Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
- Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
- Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
- Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
- Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.
The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.
2 Types of Business Plans
Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.
- Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
- Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.
Why Do Business Plans Fail?
A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.
How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.
What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?
The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.
Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.
A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.
Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
- Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 1 of 46
- Business Ethics: Definition, Principles, Why They're Important 2 of 46
- Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 3 of 46
- Organizational Structure for Companies With Examples and Benefits 4 of 46
- Which Type of Organization Is Best For Your Business? 5 of 46
- What Are the Major Types of Businesses in the Private Sector? 6 of 46
- Corporate Culture Definition, Characteristics, and Importance 7 of 46
- What Is an S Corp? 8 of 46
- LLC vs. Incorporation: Which Should I Choose? 9 of 46
- Private Company: What It Is, Types, and Pros and Cons 10 of 46
- Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros & Cons, Examples, Differences From an LLC 11 of 46
- Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 46
- Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, and Popular Websites 13 of 46
- Seed Capital: What It Is, How It Works, Example 14 of 46
- Venture Capital: What Is VC and How Does It Work? 15 of 46
- Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 16 of 46
- Capital Funding: Definition, How It Works, and 2 Primary Methods 17 of 46
- Series Funding: A, B, and C 18 of 46
- Small Business Administration (SBA): Definition and What It Does 19 of 46
- Upper Management: What it is, How it Works 20 of 46
- What is the C Suite?: Meaning and Positions Defined 21 of 46
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO): What They Do vs. Other Chief Roles 22 of 46
- Operations Management: Understanding and Using It 23 of 46
- Human Resource Planning (HRP) Meaning, Process, and Examples 24 of 46
- Brand: Types of Brands and How to Create a Successful Brand Identity 25 of 46
- What Is Brand Personality? How It Works and Examples 26 of 46
- What Is Brand Management? Requirements, How It Works, and Example 27 of 46
- What Is Brand Awareness? Definition, How It Works, and Strategies 28 of 46
- Brand Loyalty: What It Is, and How to Build It 29 of 46
- Brand Extension: Definition, How It Works, Example, and Criticism 30 of 46
- What Is Social Networking? 31 of 46
- Affiliate Marketer: Definition, Examples, and How to Get Started 32 of 46
- What Is Commercialization, Plus the Product Roll-Out Process 33 of 46
- Digital Marketing Overview: Types, Challenges & Required Skills 34 of 46
- Direct Marketing: What It Is and How It Works 35 of 46
- Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 36 of 46
- What Are Marketing Campaigns? Definition, Types, and Examples 37 of 46
- How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 38 of 46
- Micromarketing Explained: Definition, Uses, and Examples 39 of 46
- Network Marketing Meaning and How It Works 40 of 46
- Product Differentiation: What It Is, How Businesses Do It, and the 3 Main Types 41 of 46
- Target Market: Definition, Purpose, Examples, Market Segments 42 of 46
- Outside Sales: What They are, How They Work 43 of 46
- What Is a Sales Lead? How It Works and Factors Affecting Quality 44 of 46
- Indirect Sales: What it is, How it Works 45 of 46
- What Is Inside Sales? Definition, How It Works, and Advantages 46 of 46
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Starting a Clothing Boutique Business Plan (PDF)
A clothing boutique or simply a boutique is a shop that sells fashionable clothes, jewellery plus other related accessories and services. The clothing boutiques space is highly segmented or fragmented. There are two major types of clothing boutiques. One solely carries clothing items from a particular designer or brand. Then the other carries clothing items from various designers or brands. The latter is the most common in many parts of the world. Starting a clothing boutique business is very profitable. The clothing industry is made up of a very wide array of clothing items that cater for the different age groups. There’s also a broad spectrum of styles and designs when it comes to clothing. Taking either males or females separately you’ll realise that niching in the clothing industry is so diverse. Some big clothing outlets even focus solely on just baby clothes as an example. This all is to make you see that any mention of the clothing market being flooded is inaccurate. For example, there are few clothing boutiques that solely focus on or incorporate tailor-making of clothes. That can be a smart way to niche because that can make your clothing boutique exclusive. You can always carve out a niche for yourself if you take the right approaches. This article will outline how to start the clothing boutique business, and the clothing boutique business plan – PDF, Word and Excel.
You must first of all identify your target market. Once you’ve done that thoroughly study it to find out its size, income levels, buying habits and clothing dynamics. Obtaining information on these areas will help you in noting characteristics you’ll capitalise on to make a resounding market entry. Market entry requires putting together a number of strategies to lure customers. Such strategies will most likely come from insights you’ll gather during your market research.
The other key study area is your prospective competition once you setup your business. Analyse their business approaches, marketing strategies, their value propositions, general market appeal and also their weaknesses. Take time to identify which clothing items they offer so that you have an idea of what or what not to sell. There are always endless possibilities with regards to how to package your brand and product portfolio in a unique way. All this is borne out of a well-executed market research exercise.
Make sure you have a comprehensive clothing boutique business plan
The failure to plan is the beginning of business failure. The clothing boutique business plan must be clear and succinct enough to give your potential partners, clients and investors an overview of what your objectives are. At the same time, it must be detailed enough to explain your business well. Your clothing store business plan should have financial statements which show that your clothing boutique business is viable and profitable.
Clothing Boutique Business Model
The applicable business model depends on the nature of your clothing boutique. Let us suppose it is a clothing boutique that carries clothing items from a sole brand or designer. There might be a working arrangement where you get a cut from every sale made. It could also be that you get the stock at discounted prices and have the leeway to set your own selling prices. If it is a generalized clothing boutique such arrangements might apply. However, the common scenario is that you source your stock and put your mark-ups. Obviously your mark-ups must comprehensively factor in all the related costs. The clothing boutique business is mostly niche-driven. Thus pricing is not usually an issue especially if you exclusively offer what clients are looking for. All the same you still have to price reasonably such that you do not push prospects away.
Location And Premises for a Clothing Boutique
Universal considerations such as a place that has high volumes of vehicle and human traffic apply here. In your choice of a spot, ensure that you factor in the size of the pool from which potential customers will come from. Be absolutely sure about the income levels of people in that pool. Clothing boutiques are best situated at shopping centres, in residential areas, malls, central business districts or strategic standalone locations. A clothing boutique must be clearly visible to anyone moving up and down in the vicinity.
Preferably its design must be open-plan with window displays of products in-store. The interior must usually have white walls and floors to accentuate the visibility of clothing items displayed in store. Another important thing to ensure is the availability of adequate and spacious parking space. The interior must also be sufficiently spacious to avoid congestion in-store. The cost of purchasing or leasing the premises should be included in the clothing store business plan.
Permits/Licenses, Insurance & Business Bank Account
Company or business registration and shop license.
The applicable laws regarding permits or licenses differ depending on the location of your clothing boutique business. Universally you must first of all register the business entity. Then you will have to apply for a clothing boutique shop license. This is the case in most places but there can be variations. It is advisable to engage your respective local authorities to seek clarity.
Insurance And Business Bank Account
These two aspects are for your own good. Insurance shields you against incidents that might dig into your pockets. Examples can be damage caused by fire or theft. Being insured will help you regain your footing with less financial pressure on you. Opening a business bank account helps separate your clothing boutique’s finances from your personal finances. That way you will have limited personal liability protection.
A clothing boutique is niche-driven yes, but that does not mean competition will not matter. In fact, niche markets can have cutthroat competition. That is why you need to check out who your competition is. Be it direct or indirect competitors; check them out both. No clothing boutique or clothing outlets in general ever carries the whole spectrum. You will always find areas of need they are not catering to. Differentiators in the clothing boutique business can be cheaper prices and a broader range. When purchasing clothes, people are always looking to bargain. Draw prospects to your clothing boutique by capitalizing on your competitors’ shortcomings.
Products for a Clothing Store Business
The range of clothing items is quite broad and diverse. This means the types of clothing items you can sell will depend on how and which niche you intend to cater for. Niching is best done by studying about players already in their industry i.e. the products that they have on offer, their pricing regimes and their marketing approaches. This will ultimately inform your decision on what to sell in your boutique. The broad categories of clothing items that can be sold are kids’ wear, men’s wear, women’s wear, footwear and associated accessories.
Products can be sourced locally or imported or tailor-made. All the categories mentioned can also branch off into many other specific areas of focus e.g. swim wear. You must also stay on top of emerging trends in the clothing industry so that you stay up-to-date. The costs of purchasing the clothing boutique products should be included in your clothing boutique business plan.
Inventory management in the clothing boutique business requires proper planning. In most cases inventory gets imported so you must be highly organized. You need to know exactly when and what to order so that you never have to turn customers away. The ‘what’ there entails a lot e.g. what type of apparel, what brand, for which sex, for which age group, and so on. Your orders must not be random; they must be empirically informed by data. A clothing boutique business is profitable and scalable. Yes, most clothing boutique businesses are single-establishment. However, that does not mean you cannot scale. There are countless accounts of clothing boutique businesses that grew into multiple outlets.
Staff And Management
Staff requirements for a clothing boutique business may not be much but are always informed by your intended scale of operation. The most basic employees required would be customer attendants and cashiers/till operators. You must have enough shop attendants to work on keeping things in order. Remember that people tend to pick things up when checking them out and they usually put them back anyhow. It’s important to make it a point to hire people that have a drive and passion for clothing and customer service. The reason why you need such personnel is because of an observation I’ve made on several occasions. When prospective customers walk in they need to be engaged in a cosy and friendly way. If that doesn’t happen the incidence of people walking out in no time becomes prevalent. So having cheerful, sociable and passionate customer attendants is imperative. Obviously the salary costs of all your employees should be catered for in your clothing store business plan.
Just like most shop-based businesses, financial management and inventory management need close attention. In order to steadily grow the clothing boutique business it’s highly recommended that you diligently track all your financial transactions. A clothing boutique must be stocked in such a way that when any customer walks in they are most likely going to find what they want. No wonder inventory management is very important. Keep abreast with how your inventory is flowing i.e. knowing items that are fast-moving (implying they are in demand) and knowing as and when restocking is due. Apparently you’ll need to have solid working relationships with your suppliers. Also remember that digital marketing through the internet and social media is a powerhouse when it comes to clothing retail – leverage on it! Your clothing boutique business plan should have a proper marketing strategy to use for your clothing store business.
Niche-driven –thorough market research is needed.
The operative aspect here is that a clothing boutique business is niche-driven. A niche market is a relatively small and specialist, yet profitable market. As such your marketing plan must be informed by in-depth market research. You have to know all there is to know about your target market. The clothing boutique business can cater to all age groups. However, you need to know each age group and its specific needs in detail. Look into the buying habits, the general lifestyles, and also the societal trends of the day. You have to establish as well how best these prospects can be engaged i.e. how to reach out to them.
Make Your Clothing Boutique Shop A Spectacle
This means your clothing boutique’s design and layout must be extraordinary. One of the ways to do this is by using a space or outlet with an open plan. It should preferably be made up mostly of full length windows, especially at the front. This is for purposes of setting up an alluring window display. Adorn it with props such as dressed mannequins, decorative lights, and neon lights. The goal is to make the exterior and the interior of the clothing boutique as spectacular as possible. There are a sizeable number of prospects who will enter into a clothing boutique simply because they are drawn to its design.
Establish A Solid Online Presence
The clothing boutique is characterised by many visual aspects. Most of the purchase decisions are fed by customers liking what they see. Take of advantage of that and infuse it into your online platforms. Get a website developed with stunning visuals of high definition images and videos. Appreciate the dynamics of colour psychology so that you can emphatically appeal to prospects. That also applies to your social media accounts. Always post regular, engaging, and relevant content that is alluring. Invest in hiring people to pose as models in the clothing items you will be selling. That also calls for you to hire professional photographers. Buttress all this by conducting online contests to drive word of mouth.
Special Sales-Oriented Events Or Initiatives
This can at the very least be about offering specials such as discounts. You can periodically do clearance sales. You can come up with promotions where there will be prizes up for grabs. Think of allowing relaxed payment terms e.g. lay-byes, zero deposits, and the like. This can extend to starting a customer loyalty program. These are examples of events or initiatives that can drive sales. There is no shortage of many other ideas you can come up with by building on these examples.
Growth and development
Clothing boutique businesses should not be static. You will find new products and new clients. The key is not to take on any product or service that you are not fully prepared for. There are plenty of incentives to earn the loyalty of your customer. For example, store cards and bonus points will encourage consumers to come to your clothing store business. On the other end of the spectrum are the small shops in small towns where the use of cash is preferred to anything fancy like credit cards. Be sure to develop partnerships with particular clothing lines who may want to sell their products in your clothing store. The profit share schemes that they propose could significantly improve the clothing boutique bottom line. Your clothing store business plan financials should show the projected growth of the business as the years progress.
Pre-Written Clothing Boutique Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel): Comprehensive Version, Short Funding/Bank Loan Version and Automated Financial Statements
For an in-depth analysis of the clothing boutique business, we encourage you to purchase our well-researched and comprehensive clothing boutique business plan. We introduced the business plans after discovering that many were venturing into the clothing store business without enough knowledge and understanding of how to run the business, lack of understanding of the financial side of the business, lack of understanding of : the industry, the risks involved , costs and profitability of the business; which often leads to disastrous losses.
The StartupBiz Global clothing store business plan will make it easier for you to launch and run your clothing boutique business successfully, fully knowing what you are going into, and what’s needed to succeed in the business. It will be easier to plan and budget as you will be aware of all the costs involved in setting up and running the clothing store business.
Uses of the Clothing Store Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel)
The clothing boutique business plan can be used for many purposes including:
- Raising capital from investors/friends/relatives
- Applying for a bank loan
- Start-up guide to launch your clothing boutique business
- As a clothing boutique business proposal
- Assessing profitability of the clothing business
- Finding a business partner
- Assessing the initial start-up costs so that you know how much to save
- Manual for current business owners to help in business and strategy formulation
Contents of the Clothing Boutique Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel)
The clothing store business plan include, but not limited to:
- Marketing Strategy
- Financial Statements (monthly cash flow projections, income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, break even analysis, payback period analysis, start-up costs, financial graphs, revenue and expenses, Bank Loan Amortization)
- Industry Analysis
- Market Analysis
- Risk Analysis
- SWOT & PEST Analysis
- Operational Requirements
- Operational Strategy
- Why some people in the clothing boutique business fail, so that you can avoid their mistakes
- Ways to raise capital to start your clothing store business
The clothing store business plan package consists of 4 files
- Clothing Boutique Business Plan – PDF file (Comprehensive Version – 72 Pages)
- Clothing Boutique Business Plan – Editable Word File (Comprehensive Version – 72 Pages)
- Clothing Boutique Business Plan Funding/Bank Loan Version- Editable Word File (Short version for applying for a loan/funding – 44 pages)
- Clothing Boutique Business Plan Automated Financial Statements – (Editable Excel File)
The business plan can be used in any country and can be easily edited. The financial statements are automated. This implies that you can change eg the percentage markup, salaries etc, and all the other financial statements will automatically adjust to reflect the change.
Click below to download the Contents Page of the Clothing Boutique Business Plan (PDF)
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Get the Clothing Boutique Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel)
Click Buy Now below to purchase using Paypal, Credit Card, or Debit Card. After you have purchased, you will immediately see the download link for the business plan package on the screen. You will also immediately get an email with the business plan download link. The Pre-written business plan package (PDF, Word, and Excel) costs $30 only!
If you want to purchase multiple business plans at once then click here: Business Plans Store.
The business plan package is a zipped compressed file containing the PDF, Word and Excel documents. To open the package after downloading it, just right click, and select Extract All. If you have any problems in downloading and opening the files, email us on [email protected] and we will assist you.
We wish you the best in your clothing boutique business! Check out our collection of business plans , and more business ideas .
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Clothing & Fashion Brand Business Plans
Did you know each of these plans was created in LivePlan? Learn More
Boutique Business Plans
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- Lingerie Shop Business Plan
- Maternity Clothing Business Plan
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- Online Boutique Clothing Store Business Plan
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- Clothing Manufacturer Business Plan
- Custom Printed T-Shirts Business Plan
- Outdoor Gear Designer Business Plan
- Surf Clothing and Sportswear Business Plan
- Personal Shopper Business Plan
Clothing Ecommerce Business Plans
- Clothing E-Commerce Site Business Plan
- Ecommerce Fabric Store Business Plan
- Maternity Clothing Online Business Plan
Clothing Retail Business Plans
- Clothing Retail Business Plan
- Family Clothing Business Plan
- Kid's Clothing Store Business Plan
- Lingerie Retail Clothing Store Business Plan
- Specialty Clothing Retail Business Plan
- Sports Clothing Retail Shop Business Plan
Shoes Business Plans
- Athletic Shoe Store Franchise Business Plan
- Skateboard Gear Retail Business Plan
- Women's Boutique Shoe Store Business Plan
- Women's Shoe Store Business Plan
Starting a clothing business requires a passion for clothing design and fashion. But in order to create a successful fashion line that lasts, you also need a business plan. If you’ve ever wanted to break into the fashion business, you may want to check out our clothing and fashion brand business plans.
Shops, boutiques, clothing design, and eCommerce are all covered here to give you ideas and planning elements to successfully launch your own business.
Or to develop a more modern business plan, that fits your retail business perfectly we recommend you try LivePlan . It contains the same templates and information you see here, but with additional guidance that helps you spend less time planning and more time designing the next big fashion trend.
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Digital Marketing Agency in Washington DC
Brand building one step at a time.
Smart business branding is critical today to stand out from the competition. You have to be distinct, or you’ll get lost in a sea of companies out there.
What’s more, your brand needs to target the right customers and hone in on an audience that will benefit most from your products or services.
Finally, your message needs to be communicated clearly to those specific people. They’re the ones who will take action when they believe in what you do and what you stand for.
Success with branding in marketing and sales comes down to excelling in all three of those areas I mentioned:
- Standing out from the competitors
- Targeting the right audience
- Communicating your story consistently
How well are you doing any of them? Is it time to work on your brand strategy ?
Before you assess, let’s quickly review the definition of business branding.
What is branding for business?
In a nutshell, business branding is about creating a comprehensive message for your company and product or service, using names, logos, slogans, copy and other collateral.
Branding is actively creating the perception you hope consumers have as they come into contact with, and experience your company, product or service.
I like to break branding a company down into three core phases:
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Identity
- Brand Marketing
Brand Strategy is a plan that focuses on the long-term development of your purpose and impact.
Your Brand Strategy will map out how you are different, trustworthy, memorable, and likable by your ideal customer. It will convey your purpose, promises, and how you solve problems for people.
You can think of Brand Strategy as the blueprint for how you want the world to see your business.
Brand Strategy is a critical and foundational piece for building a successful brand. It’s one of the areas that most businesses overlook, because they jump right into the design and marketing.
Don’t make this mistake! >> Learn how to create an impactful Brand Strategy here
Brand Identity is the way that you convey this to the public with visuals, messaging, and experience.
Your brand identity should be applied across all channels consistently. It is the way that your business becomes recognizable. This includes your logo, colors and fonts, website design, content, advertising, print or packaging, and more. And these assets are all part of your branding package , which is necessary to strengthen your brand across different channels.
In fact: consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23 percent .
Finally, Brand Marketing is the way that businesses or organizations highlight and bring awareness to products or services by connecting values and voice to the right audience through strategic communication.
If you are looking for how to create a business brand that people love, follow this guide for the do’s and don’ts of small business branding strategies.
Our Best Business Branding Ideas (Take Notes!)
When coming up with the best branding strategies for your branding business plan, keep it simple. Business branding isn’t rocket science, but it does require creativity and strategic thinking.
Sometimes, you will just hit that magic spot with your customers.
Other times, you will have to work at it to find the right brand voice or personality.
No matter what, the fact that you are considering a brand building process right now is a positive thing!
I firmly believe the future of a successful business is becoming a BRAND .
A brand is THE biggest asset your company will own—and the most valuable.
Here are some of the best business branding ideas to get you started:
1. DO: Find inspiration from other brands
Take the time to review what your competitors are doing. Notice what they are doing right, and what they might be doing wrong.
Look at a competitor closely in these areas:
- Brand identity (how they appear or sound)
- Product or service offering (quality, features, benefits)
- Website user experience (navigation, call-to-action, messaging)
- Content publishing (blogs, videos, case studies, lead magnets)
- Social media (size of community, engagement, content types, frequency)
- Advertising (print, display, PPC, radio/TV, direct mail)
You should consider doing a SWOT analysis for your business branding, supported by competitor research.
Perhaps a competitor is using imagery in a certain way that can inspire what you do with your own brand. Does it scream “quality”? Did it gain a lot of likes, comments, shares? Is it super unique from what else is out there?
If they have an online shop, what is the ecommerce user experience like?
Make notes about why you think something is working well for your competitor. Then, strategize on how your brand can do it BETTER.
Alternatively, you may find that a competitor message is not very clear or straightforward. Leverage that gap when creating your own brand story. This makes it easier for customers to choose you over them when making a decision.
DON’T: Rip off other brands
Getting inspiration is one thing, but outright plagiarism is another story. You cannot steal or use another business brand identity. This may seem like common sense, but it isn’t always. You’d be surprised at how many people think they can just go ahead and use a logo because, well, they aren’t in the same industry or a competitor.
Another poor tactic is to try to confuse people by making your small business branding very, very similar. Don’t do it.
You would be obviously ripping off Starbucks if called your coffee shop “ Bucksstar Coffee ” with green and white in your branding. This really happened, folks.
2. DO: Understand who your customer is
One of the more difficult things with business branding development is to commit to a target audience. It’s important to visualize what an ideal customer within your audience looks like.
We call this a buyer persona . It’s a fictional customer but based on real data about your existing consumers coupled with market research.
Here’s an example of what we create for our brand agency clients:
Now, if you’re a new company with little to no sales data, it helps to look at competitors and make educated assumptions. Check out their reviews and social media engagement. Or, interview potential customers–the conversations and feedback will be invaluable for your target audience development.
If you are an existing business, it’s important to gather an understanding of who you are already helping with your product or service. Whose pain point does your business exactly solve for already?
Your buyer persona will have a name. They’ll have a personality, lifestyle, motivations, and frustrations (this is where your brand can guide them!). Creating a complete picture ensures that you can develop business branding ideas to meet their exact needs.
DON’T: Try to be everything to everyone.
Your brand can’t be everything to everyone.
Without specificity, you become nothing to no one.
Find a niche that you can best serve with your product or service.
Here are a few ways to help hone in on your ideal customer:
- First, eliminate who isn’t your audience
- Look at Google Analytics if you have a website
- Conduct a survey to existing customers
- Conduct a survey on social media
- Have a real conversation with a customer
3. DO: Have a professional logo designed
No matter what size business you have, it deserves a professional brand identity design. A freelance graphic designer or a branding agency for small business can create a brand logo.
The largest creative agencies working with the top brands will charge hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes millions!), for comprehensive brand development.
For a smaller business or startup, don’t fret—there are options for branding companies for small business. Expect to pay a thousand dollars (or more) for a great logo, style guide, and collateral to go with it.
Sometimes, you can find cheaper graphic designers online, but keep your expectations in check. You will get what you pay for. It’s worth investing in a professional logo at the beginning (or for a redesign).
When in doubt, remember what Paul Rand said:
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”
So make it exceptional!
As you look to hire someone for your logo design, ensure they provide these things at the very least:
- Logo in vector format (EPS)
- Color palette and fonts
- Brand style guide
Some agencies also provide added materials with a logo design, such as business cards, social media profile graphics and other collateral.
When doing your research on designers or agencies, find out what else can be included in a complete brand identity package.
DON’T: Overthink your logo
Typically, half of small business owners have some kind of vision for their logo. The other half are open to creative ideas—and know what they like when they see it.
In either case, the logo design does not have to be complicated, literal, or super fancy.
When reviewing concepts from a designer, ask yourself if the logo truly is:
4. DO: Create a brand slogan or tagline
A slogan or tagline is a short phrase that exemplifies the essence of your brand, its personality, and positioning. It does not have to apply directly to your products.
For example, one of the most famous business branding slogans is Nike’s “Just Do It.”
Those three words have nothing directly to do with shoes, but the Nike slogan is memorable and conveys the essence of the brand. It motivates!
Chances are, you’ve seen many of the above brand logos. But do any of the slogans on the right ring a bell?
Try to match the brand on the left with the phrase on the right. Kudos if you get them all!
Answers are at the end of this blog post.
When creating a brand slogan, keep these points in mind.
- Convey positivity
- Use it to differentiate
- Explain a key benefit
- Make it memorable
General Electric has cycled through no less than 10 taglines since 1912, as the brand has evolved. For those who remember the 1980’s, the brand slogan was:
We bring good things to life.
In 2003, the slogan was changed to:
Inspiration at work.
This new and improved slogan hits home as a tribute to GE founder and inventor, Thomas Edison. And, it also supports all the contributions current GE employees continue to make towards industrial progress.
DON’T: Make your slogan too long
As you can see, a successful brand slogan can be very short, like the three-word Nike slogan mentioned earlier. Imagine if Nike had tried to over-explain with that slogan.
Which sounds better?
Just Do It
Just Do It in Our Top-Quality Athletic Shoes
An inspiring phrase for the customer suddenly turns into something that is all about the business. You get the picture.
5. DO: Research current trends
When you are creating a new brand from scratch, you should do market research to see what is happening in your industry. And, what is appealing to your target market.
And actually, this is important to do even when you are an established business so that you can stay current with your branding.
Here’s the deal:
There is an amazing amount of information out there on the internet. Aside from purchasing costly research reports (which is a viable option if you have the budget), it is as simple as going to Google.
In the search bar, type in something like: “ market research nutritional supplements ”. Or, “ customer data health and wellness industry .”
Replace the above example with your specific product, service or industry.
Another quick example could be, “ market research pet owners ” (45,500,000 results!).
Cull through all the relevant results and start reading. You may have to do some digging, but that is where you can find the gems of information.
You’ll be able to gather data about trends that will help you fine-tune your offering, your target audience, or your messaging.
DON’T: Get too caught up in trends
The caveat to the above is that you shouldn’t get so caught up in trends that you forget your core business and your why. For example, if you are a business selling something that appeals to people who are traditional and nostalgic, then you want to look more towards traditional than trendy.
6. DO: Determine your brand “personality”
Bland doesn’t work too well with brand, unless you are marketing flavorless food.
(Pretty sure that product is a dud.)
Your brand should have a personality or attitude, even a subtle one. Think about some adjectives that might describe your company, and use that as a basis.
Determine on which side of the personality spectrum your brand falls:
And even further, consider these traits as well:
- Personable or corporate?
- High-energy or careful?
- Modern or traditional?
- Cutting-edge or established?
- Fun or serious?
- Accessible or exclusive?
For example, a consulting firm may focus on high-end, white-glove services. That should be a part of the brand personality…perhaps by being sophisticated or exclusive in nature.
DON’T: Try too hard
You wouldn’t want to go so far with personality that your brand becomes a joke. The stereotypical used car salesman comes to mind!
Your brand personality should be authentic and speak to the target customer. Figure out what attributes your brand has, and how that aligns with the attributes of your buyer persona. This will help your brand engage in a true conversation with prospective leads and existing customers.
7. DO: Develop a unique business culture
A unique culture can become part of your overall business branding and brand personality. What we mean by “culture” consists of how you do business.
How do you treat your employees and customers?
Does your company value teamwork and collaboration?
Is being family-friendly, including generous maternity leave, a part of your corporate culture?
These can all become a part of your business branding.
Bringing your employees on board with your brand’s business culture and values can be the difference in having long-lasting success.
DON’T: Go against your values
Once you have developed a business culture, you need to live it. If you don’t, then you can hurt your brand.
A strong business brand starts from within the company. Ensure that your employees understand and align with the same values the business is built on. Start this with your hiring process, by vetting the right people to bring on board.
Empower, train, recognize and reward your team in support of advocating your brand.
8. DO: Trademark your brand
Coming up with a unique business name is getting harder every day, as there are more entrepreneurs and small businesses. You’ll want to protect your brand from copycats. A trademark protects a symbol, name, word, logo, or design used to represent the manufacturer of goods.
Once you have your brand name, logo, and slogan, you should get it officially trademarked. This involves filing a trademark application, which can be easily done through LegalZoom for $300-500 each.
The official trademark designation will legally protect you if someone tries to steal or copy your original brand assets. Even better, a trademark will never expire.
Before you apply, find out if something is trademarked by searching the trademark database. In the U.S., this is done via the USPTO trademark search .
It’s important to know that a trademark is different from a patent, and it’s best to consult legal counsel if you have a need for more protection of your products or intellectual property.
DON’T: Put TMs everywhere
Regardless of whether you trademark something or not, it can be overkill to put a TM after every mention of your brand name or products. Just don’t overdo it with trademarking all the things.
9. DO: Use a Consistent Voice
In addition to your visual style guide is the voice that you use for your communications as a brand.
Is your voice casual or professional?
Are the blog articles on your website in first person, second person, or third person?
For a financial business brand, such as an accounting firm, you might want to err on being more formal in your communication. Unless you’ve gone the other direction and branded yourself as “The Wacky Accountant.” Hey, it might work as a differentiator.
With the brand voice that you determine fits your brand personality best, you’ll be able to develop a compelling brand story and associated messaging. These are the fundamental pieces of communication you’ll use across all channels, such as your website and social media.
DON’T: Change your voice too frequently
So, let’s say you do run an accounting firm, and you want to set it apart by re-branding it as a fun, “wacky” accounting firm. This is all fine and good, but you may need to give this new voice a try before switching gears suddenly.
Do some testing with your current customer base, to see if the voice resonates with them.
10. DO: Boost your brand
Once you have your brand name, logo, slogan and story, make you sure to promote it. The prettiest logo won’t help a darn bit if nobody sees it!
Build a clean, user-friendly website that clearly explains what your business does for the consumer. Remember to include a call-to-action that points people in the right direction (Buy Now, Schedule a Call, Sign Up). Tell them exactly what to do.
Develop a marketing plan and implement it. Foundation elements of a digital brand strategy should include:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Paid advertising
DON’T: Be shy about your brand
Finally, don’t be shy about your business branding, especially if you are a solo entrepreneur. Let people know about your brand and promote it proudly!
Global Businesses with Top 10 Branding
Are you curious about which companies around the world have the most valuable brands? Here’s a quick list of those with top 10 brand value, according to Forbes . Use them for inspiration, or competition!
#1 – Apple
#2 – Google
#3 – Microsoft
#4 – Amazon
#5 – Facebook
#6 – Coca-Cola
#7 – Samsung
#8 – Disney
#9 – Toyota
#10 – McDonald’s
Branding Your Business The Right Way
Business branding from the beginning is one of the best fundamental things to do for long-lasting growth. It’s also something that established companies can turn their attention to for increased brand awareness and trust.
I always say:
More brand trust = more sales.
And who doesn’t want more sales?
It’s never too late to start branding your business. Use these tips to differentiate, target, and communicate. More importantly, to stay ahead of the competition!
- Have a professional logo designed , but don’t overthink it.
- Understand who your customer is , but don’t try to be everything to everyone.
- Find inspiration from other brands , but don’t rip them off.
- Create a brand slogan or tagline , but don’t make it too long.
- Research current trends , but don’t get caught up in them.
- Determine your brand “personality” , but don’t try too hard.
- Develop a unique business culture , but don’t go against your values.
- Trademark your brand , but don’t put TMs everywhere.
- Use a consistent voice , but don’t change it too frequently.
- Boost your brand , but don’t be shy about it.
What are your favorite small business branding ideas? Have you done something awesome that has helped build your brand?
Share your comments or questions below!
Brand Slogan Quiz Answers: Mercedes-Benz – The Best or Nothing Subway – Eat Fresh Walmart – Save Money. Live Better. Staples – That Was Easy Allstate – You’re in Good Hands LOreal – Because You’re Worth It
Need branding help? FreshSparks is a branding agency specializing in brand strategy, brand identity, website design, and brand marketing. We can help you with branding your business successfully. Contact us to learn more.
If you liked this post, please share!
About Sonia Gregory
CEO & Creative Director at FreshSparks. Follow me: LinkedIn / Twitter / Instagram
May 27, 2021 at 11:37 AM
Great Article, Thanks its perfect article about Branding solutions
March 8, 2021 at 10:33 AM
Great article, thanks! Rarely do you see such large and detailed articles. It immediately feels like you understand this. It’s amazing how much you need to do to become a recognizable brand. If suddenly you have any problems with collectors, auto fraud, etc. you can contact this lawyer . He is really an expert in his field.
September 26, 2020 at 6:30 AM
lets do it, link it Emd and you can learn more furniture.
August 14, 2020 at 7:37 AM
such a wonderful post to read, thank you for sharing experience and ideas and useful information regarding the brand narrative. keep it up
August 3, 2020 at 5:12 AM
Thank you for sharing! This is a very well detailed content.
June 29, 2020 at 10:17 AM
The best way to define your target audience is to consider what they’re interested in, where they’re located, their age, what they think of your brand currently, and how you will attract them to your services or products. Learn more: https://unoiatech.com/brand-messaging-to-grow-your-business/
June 19, 2020 at 6:13 AM
This is a very interesting post. It’s well worth the effort and am glad. Corporate Branding is everything if a business want to be loved by it’s target audience, stand out from other competitors and grow its revenues.
April 26, 2020 at 8:57 PM
Hi Sonia, Something awesome I have done for one of my businesses is to brand my content. My favorite branding idea from your blog post is to find inspiration from other brands. Best wishes.
April 13, 2020 at 11:20 AM
Thanks for the piece of information and I must admit your post is highly educative, Branding service is an essential part of every business.
March 2, 2020 at 9:10 AM
Thanks for this great piece. It’s an eye opener for me as a startup for agripowermachines for smallholder cocoa farmers in rural area Nigeria. Please enlighten me on how to package my business branding for rural folks with little or no electricity. .
October 5, 2019 at 2:18 PM
Such a great post. Thanks for sharing great tips to create and promote your brand.
Radly Bates Digital
January 13, 2020 at 1:29 AM
Thank you for the feedback! Glad you found it valuable.
August 22, 2019 at 2:33 PM
Great article! I particularly agree with the point of not trying too hard. Many companies manage to make a mockery of their brand, through over-exposure on social media or using insensitive slogans and catchphrases. The target audience has to be kept in mind throughout.
September 5, 2019 at 1:20 PM
Thanks, Jessica! One of the key things for brands is to always provide value first. It will result in a business having to do a lot less sales over time. Appreciate your comment and hope to hear more from you!
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How to Write a Beauty Products Business Plan
Updated: 22 March, 2022
As a founder of a beauty brand start-up, you’ll need a clear vision, a well-written beauty products business plan and to have put some skin in the game in terms of hard work, time and funds. But how do you go about getting started on that all-important business plan and what should it contain?
In this blog post, we summarise the 10 key steps new beauty entrepreneurs need to work through to write a business plan for a cosmetics company. This is essential reading for anyone wondering how to start a beauty business from home as it makes you aware of just what you will need to think through and start planning for.
Running a cosmetic business requires you to be very organised. You will need a strong business plan that leads you through all of the main components of your cosmetic business. The relief is that your business plan does not need to be the size of a thesis. In fact, the more concise it is the better as you will be able to tackle it and feel like referring to it in the future.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Formula Botanica (@formulabotanica)
Our step-by-step video guide below is based on the business planning exercises we provide as part of our Diploma in Beauty Brand Business Management . The Diploma is an extensive, six-module course that takes you on an intensive journey from would-be entrepreneur to empowered founder armed with a structured business plan. Pre-enrol to find out more about this diploma and our other courses.
10-Step Guide to Your Beauty Products Business Plan
Step 1: why your beauty business needs a plan.
The first step is to set yourself a challenge: ask yourself why you are writing a business plan in the first place. There is no point in going through the motions of writing a beauty product business plan. You need to buy into the very concept of business planning.
We know that the thought of writing a business plan can seem daunting. However, your business plan is a necessary and very important strategic document as it focuses your energy, time and resources on a clear end game; not only that of launching a successful beauty business, but also of ensuring it has the potential to thrive longer term.
Your business plan isn’t just to show potential investors and otherwise hide away in a filing cabinet. It is a tool to refer to every time you are faced with important decisions. Your plan guides your decision-making and makes the everyday of running your beauty business simpler and smoother.
It will take time to write your business plan as it summarises the hard work you need to do beforehand in discovering your vision, working out your ‘why’ and what your brand stands for, what you’ll be selling, where you’ll be selling, who your competitors are and what your market gap is, and how you’ll fund your business. It also entails drafting a full financial plan, based on things like sales’ forecasts.
With this mindset challenge out of the way, let’s cover the key areas of your plan in the next steps.
Step 2: Your beauty brand mission and vision
We’ve seen many start-up beauty entrepreneurs rush into designing their branding before they have even worked out why they are in business. Before branding, come your vision and mission. Often confused and easily ignored, these two statements are the guiding lights of your business.
First, let’s define them. Your vision is about your bigger dreams. It isn’t simply that you want to make organic formulations to sell to anyone. Your vision statement sets out how you want to make a difference with your beauty brand. At Formula Botanica, our vision, in brief, is to make natural formulation as commonplace as cookery.
Your brand mission statement says how you intend to achieve that vision. At Formula Botanica, our mission is to ‘teach the world to formulate’. As you can see from our example, the mission is practical and active and states how we accomplish our vision – through teaching and our online courses.
When you write your brand vision and mission statements, you’re not writing boring, bland, catch-all statements. Coming up with why your beauty brand exists and how it serves your customers is not a quick back-of-the-envelope exercise either. It may take you weeks to define your vision and mission, but this is time well spent as these statements are the heart of your beauty business. Don’t move on to the next steps until you have total clarity on them.
Step 3: Your niche and customers
It’s all well and good having your vision and mission, but if you don’t know your niche in the beauty market nor much about whom you are selling to, then you might not have a business at all. We’re sure you’ve heard this advice a hundred times, but you need to know exactly who you’re going to be selling to. You need to understand who this type of person is, how they live and how they shop.
Once you know who your target customer is, all of a sudden everything clicks into place and becomes easier in terms of selling. You know which marketing messages work best for your customer, you know what they’re looking for and you know how to sell to them. When starting your beauty products business, you need to have a niche and that niche cannot be ‘organic’ or ‘natural’. There are so many untapped niches in the beauty industry, for instance, skincare for women in their fifties, skincare for certain types of athletes (swimmers, runners, etc.), and skincare for teenage boys.
Jot down bullet points about your ideal customer; include where they live, what other brands they buy, how they holiday, what their key skincare issues are and so on. Be brief but on point. Home in on a single person – often called your brand ‘avatar’. It might sound tedious to do, but once you have that person clearly in your mind, everything in your business will work to meeting their needs. Just ensure that you really do have a niche that exists.
We reported on some trends from In-Cosmetics Global , in Paris (April 2019). We’re not suggesting you need to keep up with the latest fad in the beauty industry, but do your market research thoroughly so you can decide where to position your brand and products.
Step 4: Your beauty products
Your business plan needs to detail your initial product(s) and explain what their sales’ proposition is and how they meet your target customers’ needs. This sounds simple to do, but believe us when we say we have seen new beauty entrepreneurs incur huge expenses as they change their direction and minds on products just after launching. Bringing new products on board can often be a way of diverting yourself from the hard task of marketing and sales.
When you learn to formulate natural skincare, you create a diversity of products without much thought about how they fit together as a range or as a beauty routine for customers. When you think like a business, you need to understand very clearly what you are selling and what proposition your products offer your target customers.
It is possible to launch with a single product, and there are well-known examples of beauty brands with only a ‘hero’ product to their name. If you are creating a range, work out how the products complement each other. Also, given issues of sustainable consumption, think about how a single product can demonstrate a unique selling proposition by multi-tasking.
Your range has financial implications so you need to decide how many products to launch with and which create a minimal viable range that makes sense for your budget and for your customers’ needs. Above all, your cosmetics’ range will need to demonstrate it has a place in the market and how it improves your customers’ lives.
Step 5: Your competitors
Yes, your competitors most certainly have a place in your skincare business plan. You, as the founder, bring your individual perspectives and experiences to your brand, so in one sense you have uniqueness built into the foundations of your beauty business. That said, you need to keep a close eye on the movers and shakers in your niche and in particular at your product range’s price point. Knowing your competitors keeps you on your toes and is information any investor will ask for, up front and early on.
It can be frustrating at times to research your competitors as their websites might be PR speak and not give much away. Look for interviews with the founders and follow them on all their social media to glean more. Competitor research can help you identify areas where your brand can thrive and can show you more effective ways to grow customer loyalty – and build your business. See what they are doing so that you know what’s working for them and what isn’t. Write a list of their strengths and weaknesses to see how you can do better. You also need to know where to position yourself in comparison to your competitors.
Don’t obsess about your competitors, but check in on what they are up to every few months. Your aim is not to copy them, but to control your beauty products’ conversation. Again, if you have clarity on the earlier steps – mission, vision, niche and customer – then you are on solid ground. It is just good business sense to know what is going on in the market.
Step 6: Your manufacturing strategy
Your manufacturing strategy is a large part of your business strategy. You need to decide whether you will be producing your beauty products yourself in your own (home) lab – according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) , using a contract manufacturer or opting for private label products. You need to define also which route suits you at launch and mention any plans to switch model later on.
Each model has its pros and cons depending on your mission and vision, as well as implications for important aspects of your business such as distribution, logistics, financing, and contractual obligations to retailers who stock your brand. How many units of products do you envisage creating a year? Which model suits your entrepreneurial ambitions and lifestyle? As you can see, your business model and manufacturing model go hand in hand. Having an end goal in sight is critical to shaping your overall business plan, the amount of capital you need to raise and the way you conduct your day-to-day operations.
There is no right or wrong choice here, but ensure you know the implications of whichever route your opt for. It might sound perfect making your own products at home in small artisanal batches, but we do know of beauty entrepreneurs who find their business sky rockets faster than they imagined. They then play catch up trying to find and fund outsourced manufacturing so they don’t let retail stockists down. This is a critical area of your business plan and needs you to consider your vision and ethos, as well as think about your own time, hiring staff, and your overall financial situation.
Step 7: Your retail strategy
We’ve seen many indie beauty entrepreneurs think they can sell direct to consumer from their website alone. To do this successfully, you need to invest in becoming a proficient digital marketer – or outsource the role. It can be tempting at the outset to want to sell directly from your own website because your keep all the profit yourself. However, although you receive lower profit margins by having your products stocked in stores and e-stores, retailers can help get your products sold and your brand known as they have a ready customer market; whereas you are unknown and have to build awareness of your brand from scratch.
The work you have done so far in defining your niche, customers, competitors and product range should indicate which retailers suit your brand best. Will your brand fit into the mass, so-called ‘masstige’, premium or luxury retail categories? And which retailers do you hope will stock your brand? What are their likely margins and what implications does this have for your manufacturing model and financial forecasts? Will you also work with distributors in certain markets, especially overseas, and again, how do their margins affect your bottom line?
You must address all these questions and more in your beauty business plan . It is no good working out how and where to sell once your products are all stacked in boxes in your living room or at a warehouse!
Step 8: Your funding
We might have left finances to last, but finding the money to fund your business is an issue that dominates your entire business plan. As you’ve seen, each previous step has financial implications. As we mentioned in our post on how to start a cosmetic business from home , you won’t be able to run a successful beauty brand without having a firm grip on finances. Having sound plans for raising finance at various junctures in your business is sound business practice.
Your business plan needs to cover the different types of funding options available to you now and in the future, whether ‘love money’ loaned from friends and family, bank loans or other sources such as crowdfunding. it needs to look at short-term and long-term sources of finance. You need to understand and pre-empt what your potential investors will ask you about financing and demonstrate in your business plan that you and your business are worth investing in.
Step 9: Your financial forecast
If you are reading this, it is likely you are thinking of starting an indie beauty business. As business plans are best written in the first year of your beauty business, you may well be pre-revenue when you draft it – or need it when pitching to investors. You may not have sales yet, but you can still show some key figures on the size of your market and your brand’s potential.
To introduce your financial forecast, you should include a timeline showing your milestones, such as when you started, your key achievements, any brand or packaging development, what stage you are at now, i.e. do you have a product in creation and how much have you invested or fund-raised so far? If you are already selling, then you can show how much investment has gone into the company already, what returns and sales you have and what your financial projections are.
There will be a need for you to factor in expenses you hadn’t thought of. One such ‘hidden’ expense we see many beauty entrepreneurs fail to predict is the need to cover retailers’ promotions. Stores generally expect you to contribute to their promotions of your products. Cashflow is everything in a business, even one selling successfully. You may face shortfalls of cash while waiting for retailers to pay you. That time lag means your day-to-day business can grind to a halt if your cash is tied up in stock and you have nothing to cover buying in more raw materials to keep production going or to cover promotions or seasonal campaigns.
As you can see, financial forecasting is about your day-to-day business, and this alone is one reason you need to revisit your business plan frequently. You need to keep an eye on your profit and loss sheets and map the trends monthly. Learn as much as you can yourself about financial forecasting and measuring your business’ financial health. Having an accountant or financial expert assist with this information can help you be better prepared both day to day and when talking about your finances to potential investors.
10: What to do with your plan now
Congratulate yourself. You have made it through the first draft of your business plan – or roadmap. But, now comes perhaps the hardest step of all; that of doing something useful with your business plan, as opposed to archiving it in some filing cabinet. This is a plan to revisit and adjust, and to assess your business’ health and performance against. It is not a document to present to banks and potential investors at the start of your business journey and then forget all about.
So, what exactly do you need to look at it for, and how often? Let’s take just a few examples of areas you will need to review.
First, you need to revisit your financial forecast monthly. See how your budgeting is measuring up against actual sales and expenses. Are things on track? Either way, yes or no, you will have a benchmark against which to measure your current business health. This information will guide you as you go forward.
Then, revisit your competitors and the overall market situation. How have things changed and how might this affect your product range, pricing or development? Be aware that you need time to get established in your market. Knee-jerk reactions can be costly. But use your plan to monitor things.
Examples of areas to review annually are your mission, vision and niche. Was your research when drafting the plan accurate? Have you proved the concept of your brand and product range? Access to a mastermind group of like-minded business founders, even in different sectors, or a mentor can help you work through any changes you think are necessary to your core statements. Again, think these through basing decisions on financials too.
Pre-enrol in a Formula Botanica course and learn how to start a cosmetic business
We hope our points have given you the outline of what you need in to think through in starting a beauty business. If you have a mission to create a beauty brand that’s bigger than yourself – a skincare brand, haircare line or makeup range that changes people lives – we can help you learn how to formulate your own products and all about bringing a brand to market.
Pre-enrol now in our Diploma in Beauty Brand Business Management – the ultimate online training programme in starting or growing your indie beauty brand. We like to refer to it as a Beauty Brand MBA. It is a combination of award-winning teaching materials and a web summit with 30+ influential speakers drawn from the best in the beauty and business community.
Or why not pre-enrol on one of our formulation diplomas and courses in skincare, haircare and cosmetic science to change your life through natural formulation? All our courses are fun and empowering and can be career changing.
Your start-up costs with a beauty business vary according to where you set your sights and relate very much to your personal goals and circumstances and not only to current funds and cash flow. The ballpark figure you find is around US $20,000 or similar in Euros. If you wish to outsource, initial start-up costs are high as most contract manufacturers require large minimum order quantities. Similarly, your branding and packaging also rack up costs especially if you are aiming at the more luxury end of the market. Writing a business plan to help you think through all the variables can give you a clearer idea of your beauty business start up costs and help you plan finances as your business grows. You can start on a small budget by making product at home to sell at local markets. Work out your personal goals and lifestyle needs first to have an idea of what costs you will face.
Indie beauty is flourishing and ever more skincare entrepreneurs find a niche and enter the market. But, finding a niche that resonates with customers is key to defining what type of beauty business to launch. Being clean, green, natural or even organic is not enough these days to necessarily differentiate your potential beauty business. Think carefully about how your beauty products will resolve the issues and fulfill the needs of a clear segment of consumers. Do not be all things all to people. By researching for and writing a beauty brand business plan, you will shape your ideas and define a viable product offer, customer base and route to market.
Join us at Formula Botanica, where tens of thousands of students and followers take our free and paid online courses to learn how to formulate organic skincare and haircare for themselves or to sell and also how to set up a beauty brand and business.
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Liz is Formula Botanica’s Content Coordinator and joined our team in August 2020. Liz worked as a professional blogger, journalist and site developer for many years and was also part of the Formula Botanica student community. Read more about the Formula Botanica Team .
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How to Build a Detailed Business Plan That Stands Out [Free Template]
Updated: March 29, 2022
Published: March 11, 2022
While starting a company may seem easier now than ever before, entrepreneurs have an uphill battle from the moment they start a business. And without a clear, actionable business plan for selling, marketing, finances, and operations, you're almost destined to face significant challenges.
This is why crafting a business plan is an essential step in the entrepreneurial process.
In this post, we'll walk you through the process of filling out your business plan template, like this free, editable version :
Download a free, editable one-page business plan template.
We know that when looking at a blank page on a laptop screen, the idea of writing your business plan can seem impossible. However, it's a mandatory step to take if you want to turn your business dreams into a reality.
That's why we've crafted a business plan template for you to download and use to build your new company. You can download it here for free . It contains prompts for all of the essential parts of a business plan, all of which are elaborated on, below.
This way, you'll be able to show them how organized and well-thought-out your business idea is, and provide them with answers to whatever questions they may have.
Free Business Plan Template
The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.
- Outline your idea.
- Pitch to investors.
- Secure funding.
- Get to work!
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Building a Successful Business Plan
In the next section, we'll cover the components of a business plan , such as an executive summary and company description. But before we get to that, let's talk about key elements that should serve as building blocks for your plan.
For some entrepreneurs, the thought of writing a business plan sounds like a chore — a necessary means to an end. But that's a bad take.
A solid business plan is a blueprint for success . It's key to securing financing, presenting your business, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.
At the core, your business plan should answer two questions: why your business and why now?
Investors want to know why your business is entering the market, i.e. what problem it's solving and how it's different from what's currently out there. They also want to know why now is the right time for your type of product or service.
At a minimum, your plan should:
- Be more realistic than idealistic: Too often, business plans focus too much on how things could be instead of how they are. While having a vision is important, your plan needs to be rooted in research and data.
- Legitimize your business idea : If an idea fails on paper, it's a signal to go back to the drawing board. In doing so, you avoid losing precious time or money chasing an unrealistic idea.
- Position your business for funding: To get your business off the ground, chances are you'll need financial backing. Even with a solid business idea, investors, lenders, and banks still need convincing. An effective business plan will outline how much money you need, where it's going, what targets you will hit, and how you plan to repay any debts.
- Lay the foundation: Investors focus on risk – if anything looks shaky, it could be a dealbreaker. Ideally, your business plan will lay down the foundation for how you'll operate your business — from operational needs to financial projections and goals.
- Communicate your needs: It's nearly impossible to communicate your needs if you don't know what they are first. Of course, a business’ needs are always changing — but your plan should give you a well-rounded view of how your business will work in the short and long term.
So back to the question of why and why now – consider three things:
- Your industry – How does your product or service fit within your industry? Are you targeting a specific niche? Where do you see the industry going in the next five to 10 years?
- Your target audience – Who are you targeting? What challenges are they facing? How will your product or service help them in their daily lives?
- Your unique selling proposition (USP) – What sets you apart from your competitors? Is it your product/service features? Your company values? Price?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you'll be equipped to answer the question: why your business and why now.
How to Build a Business Plan
- Executive Summary
- Company and Business Description
- Product and Services Line
- Market Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Legal Notes
- Financial Considerations
Featured Resource: Free Business Plan Template
1. cover page.
Your business plan should be prefaced with an eye-catching cover page. This means including a high-resolution image of your company logo, followed by your company's name, address, and phone number.
Since this business plan will likely change hands and be seen by multiple investors, you should also provide your own name, role in the business, and email address on the cover page.
At the bottom of this page, you can also add a confidentiality statement to protect against the disclosure of your business details.
The statement can read as follows: " This document contains confidential and proprietary information created by [your company name]. When receiving this document, you agree to keep its content confidential and may only reproduce and/or share it with express written permission of [your company name] ."
Remember to keep your cover page simple and concise — and save the important details for other sections.
Why it matters: First impressions are everything, and a clean cover page is the first step in the right direction.
Example of a Cover Page
2. Executive Summary
The executive summary of your business plan provides a one- to two-page overview of your business and highlights the most crucial pieces of your plan, such as your short-term and long-term goals.
The executive summary is essentially a boiled-down version of your entire business plan, so remember to keep this section to the point and filled only with essential information.
Typically, this brief section includes:
- A mission statement.
- The company's history and leadership model.
- An overview of competitive advantage(s).
- Financial projections.
- Company goals.
- An ask from potential investors.
Why it matters: The executive summary is known as the make-or-break section of a business plan. It influences whether investors turn the page or not — so effectively summarizing your business and the problem it hopes to solve is a must.
Think of the Summary as a written elevator pitch (with more detail). While your business plan provides the nitty-gritty details, your Summary describes — in a compelling but matter-of-fact language — the highlights of your plan. If it's too vague, complicated, or fuzzy, you may need to scrap it and start again.
Example of an Executive Summary Introduction
"The future looks bright for North Side Chicago, particularly the Rock Hill Neighborhood. A number of high-end commercial and residential developments are well on their way, along with two new condo developments in nearby neighborhoods.
While the completion of these developments will increase the population within the neighborhood and stimulate the economy, the area lacks an upscale restaurant where residents and visitors can enjoy fine food and drink. Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will provide such a place."
3. Company & Business Description
In this section, provide a more thorough description of what your company is and why it exists.
The bulk of the writing in this section should be about your company's purpose – covering what the business will be selling, identifying the target market, and laying out a path to success.
In this portion of your business plan, you can also elaborate on your company's:
- Mission statement
- Core values
- Team and organizational structure
Why it matters: Investors look for great structures and teams in addition to great ideas. This section gives an overview of your businesses' ethos. It's the perfect opportunity to set your business apart from the competition — such as your team's expertise, your unique work culture, and your competitive advantage.
Example of a Values/Mission Statement
"Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will be the go-to place for people to get a drink or bite in an elegant, upscale atmosphere. The mission is to be North Side's leading restaurant, with the best tasting food and the highest quality service."
3. Product & Services Line
Here's where you'll cover the makeup of your business's product and/or services line. You should provide each product or service's name, its purpose, and a description of how it works (if appropriate). If you own any patents, copyrights, or trademarks, it's essential to include this info too.
Next, add some color to your sales strategy by outlining your pricing model and mark-up amounts.
If you're selling tangible products, you should also explain production and costs, and how you expect these factors to change as you scale.
Why it matters: This section contains the real meat of your business plan. It sets the stage for the problem you hope to solve, your solution, and how your said solution fits in the market.
There's no one-size-fits-all formula for this section. For instance, one plan may delve into its ability to market in a more cost-effective way than the competition, whereas another plan focuses on its key products and their unique features and benefits.
Regardless of your angle, it's critical to convey how your offerings will differ from the competition.
Example of a Product/Service Offering
"The menu at Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will focus on Moroccan cuisine. The stars of the menu (our specialties) are the Moroccan dishes, such as eggplant zaalouk, seafood bastilla, tagine, and chickpea stew. For those who enjoy American dishes, there will also be a variety of options, from burger sliders and flatbread pizza to grilled steak and salads.
The food at Jay Street will have premium pricing to match its upscale atmosphere. During the summer months, the restaurant will have extra seating on the patio where clients can enjoy a special summer menu. We will be open on all days of the week."
4. Market Analysis
It helps to reference your market research documentation in this section, like a Porter's Five Forces Analysis or a SWOT Analysis ( templates for those are available here ). You can also include them in your appendix.
If your company already has buyer personas, you should include them here as well. If not, you can create them right now using the Make My Persona Tool .
Why it matters: Having an awesome product is, well, awesome — but it isn't enough. Just as important, there must be a market for it.
This section allows you to dig deeper into your market, which segments you want to target, and why. The "why" here is important, since targeting the right segment is critical for the success and growth of your business.
It's easy to get lost (or overwhelmed) in a sea of endless data. For your business plan, narrow your focus by answering the following questions:
- What is my market? In other words, who are my customers?
- What segments of the market do I want to target?
- What's the size of my target market?
- Is my market likely to grow?
- How can I increase my market share over time?
Example of a Market Analysis
"Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will target locals who live and work within the Rock Hill Neighborhood and the greater North Side Chicago area. We will also target the tourists who flock to the many tourist attractions and colleges on the North Side.
We will specifically focus on young to middle-aged adults with an income of $40,000 to $80,000 who are looking for an upscale experience. The general demographics of our target market are women between 20 to 50 years old.
A unique and varied Moroccan-American menu, along with our unique upscale atmosphere, differentiates us from competitors in the area. Jay Street will also set itself apart through its commitment to high-quality food, service, design, and atmosphere."
5. Marketing Plan
Unlike the market analysis section, your marketing plan section should be an explanation of the tactical approach to reaching your aforementioned target audience. List your advertising channels, organic marketing methods, messaging, budget, and any relevant promotional tactics.
If your company has a fully fleshed-out marketing plan, you can attach it in the appendix of your business plan. If not, download this free marketing plan template to outline your strategy.
Free Marketing Plan Template
Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
- Pre-Sectioned Template
- Completely Customizable
- Example Prompts
- Professionally Designed
Why it matters: Marketing is what puts your product in front of your customers. It's not just advertising — it's an investment in your business.
Throwing money into random marketing channels is a haphazard approach, which is why it's essential to do the legwork to create a solid marketing plan.
Here's some good news — by this point, you should have a solid understanding of your target market. Now, it's time to determine how you'll reach them.
Example of a Marketing Plan Overview
"Our marketing strategy will focus on three main initiatives:
- Social media marketing. We will grow and expand our Facebook and Instagram following through targeted social media ads.
- Website initiatives. Our website will attract potential visitors by offering updated menus and a calendar of events.
- Promotional events. Jay Street will have one special theme night per week to attract new clients."
6. Sales Plan
It doesn't matter if your sales department is an office full of business development representatives (BDR) or a dozen stores with your products on their shelves.
The point is: All sales plans are different, so you should clearly outline yours here. Common talking points include your:
- Sales team structure, and why this structure was chosen.
- Sales channels.
- Sales tools, software, and resources.
- Prospecting strategy.
- Sales goals and budget.
Like with your marketing plan, it might make sense to attach your completed sales plan to the appendix of your business plan. You can download a template for building your sales plan here .
Why it matters: Among other things, investors are interested in the scalability of your business — which is why growth strategies are a critical part of your business plan.
Your sales plan should describe your plan to attract customers, retain them (if applicable), and, ultimately, grow your business. Be sure to outline what you plan to do given your existing resources and what results you expect from your work.
Example of a Sales Plan Overview
"The most important goal is to ensure financial success for Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant. We believe we can achieve this by offering excellent food, entertainment, and service to our clients.
We are not a low-cost dining option in the area. Instead, the food will have premium pricing to match its upscale feel. The strategy is to give Jay Street a perception of elegance through its food, entertainment, and excellent service."
7. Legal Notes
Your investors may want to know the legal structure of your business, as that could directly impact the risk of their investments. For example, if you're looking for business partners to engage in a non-corporation or LLC partnership, this means they could be on the line for more than their actual investment.
Because this clarification is often needed, explain if you are and/or plan to become a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, LLC, or other.
You should also outline the steps you have taken (or will need to take) to operate legally. This includes licenses, permits, registrations, and insurance.
The last thing your investor wants to hear after they've sent you a big chunk of change is that you're operating without proper approval from the local, state, or federal government.
Why it matters: The last thing your investor wants to hear after they've sent you a big chunk of change is that you're operating without proper approval from the local, state, or federal government.
Example of Legal Notes
"Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant is up-to-date on all restaurant licenses and health permits. Our business name and logo are registered trademarks, presenting the possibility of expanding locally."
8. Financial Considerations
Ultimately, investors want to know two things:
- When they will earn their money back.
- When they will start seeing returns on their initial investment.
That said, be clear, calculated, and convincing in this section. It should cover:
- Startup costs.
- Sales forecasts for the next several months/quarters.
- Break-even analysis for time and dollars.
- Projected profit and loss (P&L) statement.
Facts and figures are key here, so be as specific as possible with each line item and projection. In addition, explain the "why" behind each of these sections.
However, keep in mind that information overload is a risk, especially when it comes to data. So, if you have pages upon pages of charts and spreadsheets for this section, distill them into a page or two and include the rest of the sheets in the appendix. This section should only focus on key data points.
Why it matters: One of the most important aspects of becoming "investor ready" is knowing your numbers. More importantly, you need to understand how those numbers will enhance your business.
While it's easy to write a number down on paper, it's more important to understand (and communicate) why you need capital, where it's going, and that your evaluation makes sense.
Example of Financial Projections
"Based on our knowledge and experience in the restaurant industry, we have come up with projections for the business.
Starting with an expenditure of $400,000 in year 1, we forecast sales of $1,500,000 and $2,800,000 for years two and three. We expect to achieve a net profit of 15% by year three."
A detailed and well-developed business plan can range anywhere from 20 to 50 pages, with some even reaching upward of 80.
In many cases, the appendix is the longest section. Why? Because it includes the supportive materials mentioned in previous sections. To avoid disrupting the flow of the business plan with visuals, charts, and spreadsheets, business owners usually add them in the last section, i.e. the appendix.
Aside from what we've already mentioned – marketing plan, sales plan, department budgets, financial documents – you may also want to attach the following in the appendix:
- Marketing materials
- Market research data
- Licensing documentation
- Branding assets
- Floor plans for your location
- Mockups of your product
- Renderings of your office space or location design
Adding these pieces to the appendix enriches the reader's understanding of your business and proves you've put the work into your business plan without distracting from the main points throughout the plan.
Why it matters: An appendix helps the reader do their due diligence. It contains everything they need to support your business plan.
Keep in mind, however, that an appendix is typically necessary only if you're seeking financing or looking to attract business partners.
Use a Business Plan Template to Get Started
Writing a business plan shouldn't be an insurmountable roadblock to starting a business. Unfortunately, for all too many, it is.
That's why we recommend using our free business plan template. Pre-filled with detailed section prompts for all of the topics in this blog post, we're confident this template will get your business plan started in the right direction.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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