The Road to Success: Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own
by Alexandra Sheehan Starting Up Aug 13, 2021 6 minute read Leave a comment Email Pinterest Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Any aspiring entrepreneur researching how to start a business will likely be advised to write a business plan. But few resources provide business plan templates and relatable examples to really help guide you through writing one of your own.
That’s why we took some real-world and hypothetical examples of product-based ecommerce businesses to show how you can write your business plan.
Business plan examples: section by section
The business plan examples we’ll look at below follow this example template:
Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business.Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists.Market analysis. Research-based information about the industry and your target market.Products and services. What you plan to offer in exchange for money.Marketing plan. The promotional strategy to introduce your business to the world and drive sales.Logistics and operations plan. Everything that happens in the background to make your business function properly.Financial plan. A breakdown of your numbers to show what you need to get started as well as to prove viability of profitability.
Below, we have some real-world and hypothetical examples of each of these sections to show you how a business plan comes together.
Your executive summary is a page that gives a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. It’s easiest to save this section for last.
In our business plan template for Paw Print Post, the executive summary is four paragraphs and takes a little over half a page:
You might repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your about page, social media profile pages, or other properties that require a boilerplate description of your business.
Soap brand ORRIS has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed for the company description section of its business plan.
You can also go more in-depth with your company overview and include the following sections, like we did for Paw Print Post:
Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your business—as an LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, or other business type. “Paw Print Post will operate as a sole proprietorship run by the owner, Jane Matthews.”Nature of the business. “Paw Print Post sells unique, one-of-a-kind digitally printed cards that are customized with a pet’s unique paw prints.”Industry. “Paw Print Post operates primarily in the pet industry and sells goods that could also be categorized as part of the greeting card industry.”Background information. “Jane Matthews, the founder of Paw Print Post, has a long history in the pet industry and working with animals, and was recently trained as a graphic designer. She’s combining those two loves to capture a niche in the market: unique greeting cards customized with a pet’s paw prints, without needing to resort to the traditional (and messy) options of casting your pet’s prints in plaster or using pet-safe ink to have them stamp their ‘signature.’”Business objectives. “Jane will have Paw Print Post ready to launch at the Big Important Pet Expo in Toronto to get the word out among industry players and consumers alike. After two years in business, Jane aims to drive $150,000 in annual revenue from the sale of Paw Print Post’s signature greeting cards and have expanded into two new product categories.”Team. “Jane Matthews is the sole full-time employee of Paw Print Post but hires contractors as needed to support her workflow and fill gaps in her skill set. Notably, Paw Print Post has a standing contract for five hours a week of virtual assistant support with Virtual Assistants Pro.”
Your mission statement may also make an appearance here. Passionfruit shares its mission statement on its company website, and it would also work well in its business plan example.
The market analysis consists of research about supply and demand, your target market, industry trends, and the competitive landscape. You might run a SWOT analysis and include that in your business plan. Here’s an example SWOT analysis we did for an online tailored-shirt business:
You’ll also want to do a competitive analysis as part of the market research component of your business plan. This will tell you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to differentiate your brand. Your competitive analysis might look like this:
Products and services
This section of your business plan describes your offerings—which products and services do you sell to your customers? Here’s what we wrote for Paw Print Post:
It’s always a good idea to develop a marketing plan before you launch your business. Your marketing plan shows how you’ll get the word out about your business, and it’s an essential component of your business plan as well.
For Paw Print Post, we focused on four Ps: price, product, promotion, and place. However, you can take a different approach with your marketing plan. Maybe you can pull from your existing marketing strategy, or maybe you break it down by the different marketing channels. Whatever approach you take, your marketing plan should describe how you intend to promote your business and offerings to potential customers. It’s OK to go high level here.
Logistics and operations plan
For Paw Print Post, we looked at suppliers, production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.
The financial plan provides a breakdown of sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and other relevant financial metrics related to funding and profiting from your business.
Ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy’s financial plan breaks down predicted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.
It then dives deeper into the financials to include:
Funding needsProjected profit-and-loss statementProjected balance sheetProjected cash-flow statement
You can use this financial plan template to build your own income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement.
Types of business plans + what to include for each
A one-page business plan is meant to be high level and easy to understand at a glance. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re truncated and summarized:
Executive summary: truncatedMarket analysis: summarizedProducts and services: summarizedMarketing plan: summarizedLogistics and operations plan: summarizedFinancials: summarized
A startup business plan is for a new business. Typically, these plans are developed and shared to secure outside funding. As such, there’s a bigger focus on the financials as well as on other sections that determine viability of your business idea—market research, for example.
Executive summaryCompany descriptionMarket analysis: in-depthProducts and servicesMarketing planOperationsFinancials: in-depth
Your internal business plan is meant to keep your team on the same page and aligned toward the same goal.
Executive summaryCompany descriptionMarket analysisProducts and servicesMarketing planLogistics and operations planFinancials
A strategic, or growth, business plan is a bigger picture, more-long-term look at your business. As such, the forecasts tend to look further into the future, and growth and revenue goals may be higher. Essentially, you want to use all the sections you would in a normal business plan and build upon each.
Executive summaryCompany descriptionMarket analysis: comprehensive outlookProducts and services: for launch and expansionMarketing plan: comprehensive outlookLogistics and operations plan: comprehensive outlookFinancials: comprehensive outlook
Your feasibility business plan is sort of a pre-business plan—many refer to it as simply a feasibility study. This plan essentially lays the groundwork and validates that it’s worth the effort to make a full business plan for your idea. As such, it’s mostly centered around research.
Company descriptionMarket analysisProducts and servicesLogistics and operations planFinancials
More resources for validating your ideas:
Product Research: The 15-Step Checklist for Finding Profitable, In-Demand Product IdeasVideo: How to Validate Your Product Ideas
Set yourself up for success
Building a business plan serves as a roadmap you can use for your ecommerce business at launch and as you reach each of your growth goals. Business plans create accountability for entrepreneurs and synergy among teams, regardless of your business model.
Kickstart your ecommerce business and set yourself up for success with intentional business planning—and with the business plan examples above to guide your own path.
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About the author
Alexandra Sheehan is a writer/editor and content specialist. She’s worked with retailers ranging from Fortune 100 companies to Etsy shop owners, and is always looking for innovative ways to help her clients.