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Business plan for an online store: step by step instructions

Digital technologies have been an obligatory component of the life of a civilized person for several decades. In this aspect, the activity of the online store is an excellent example of modern business. For an enterprise of this kind to be commercially successful, a detailed and flexible business plan is indispensable. This document is the first assistant in the conduct of commercial activities.
The statistics for e-commerce start-ups are quite harsh: half of those who start trading on the World Wide Web stop their activity within the first 5 years of operation. The reasons for leaving the market can be very different, but the low internal efficiency of the enterprise and the desire to act only intuitively often act as negative factors here. Having your own clear business plan will help you avoid embarrassing setbacks.
The most common form of such a plan is in the form of a booklet. It is important to describe in detail the nuances and features of your own business. Its basic elements include:
  • informative summary;
  • disclosed company structure;
  • description of products, goods and services;
  • operations to organize work;
  • thorough analysis of market conditions;
  • marketing strategy;
  • financial plan.
A detailed review of each item on this list will help you achieve success. The document must be written on paper, as this will help to steadily follow the main goal and not be distracted by secondary factors. In addition, the ability to capture the entire state of affairs with one glance will help set the strategically correct direction of movement.

How to start preparing a business plan?

Like any document, a business plan has its own structure. There is no universal pattern. The leading link is the point of view of the business owner about its functioning. Consider the main ways to create and develop a business plan, the importance of highlighting the main parameters for study. The above is easier to understand if you realize the importance of the purpose of writing it.

Strengths of a business plan

Of the primary and secondary reasons for planning, the principle of a complete understanding of the goals and objectives of one's activities stands apart. In other words, every businessman must clearly understand the ultimate goal of his work in a certain time period. The mission of the company is a fundamental concept, and even if your business is still limited, you need to clearly articulate the purpose of the company's existence.
This approach is a litmus test for investors. Their confidence in your commercial professionalism will be based on their perception of the job prospects. Such issues as conducting situation research, recruitment, and establishing business partnerships will automatically be studied.
Planning involves the preparation of a business concept. At this stage, the costs of effort, money and time are estimated, the size of the business is predicted, and the possibility of attracting additional resources is studied. It is very important to stay in the chosen fairway in the future, since a situational change in the principles of work in the future often turns into a commercial disaster.
Idea evaluation is focused on a comprehensive study of the entire business. By studying the strengths and weaknesses even before the start of commerce, one can predict its success and the right to a place under the Sun. It is necessary to make and sell what brings money, and not vice versa. Delivering the requested products to the market is much easier to succeed than imposing your opinion on the customer base.
Conducting research is often rejected by young businessmen; at the same time, this item allows for a more efficient distribution of forces. Without studying the prospects and working out possible options, the risk of stagnation is high.
Recruitment is a critical part of any business. Recruiting is much easier if you communicate your goals and mission to candidates. At the same stage, a gradation of requirements for the professional qualities of employees is built.
The partnership paragraph describes the prospects for establishing interaction with other market participants in order to achieve maximum results. Experience shows that joint efforts can overcome even the most serious problems in the conduct of e-commerce.

Key components of a business plan

Experienced merchants usually include the following items in their business plan:
  • study of similar proposals
  • compilation of SWOT parameters
  • delivery service work
  • executive basis
  • internal characteristics of the company
  • market research questions
  • general marketing concept
  • organization of the internal work of the enterprise

Examining Similar Offers

Any business is conducted in a competitive environment, and knowing the state of affairs in this matter will allow you to evaluate the strategy for economic victory over other market participants. Specialized publications, open reports or materials in the mass media can serve as sources of information.

Drafting SWOT parameters

This concept is one of the key. Consistent identification of your own strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the market segment allows you to determine the main points of application of efforts. A visual display of these factors simplifies the overall view of the situation. Each of these concepts should be decomposed into points, which are then subjected to ranking.

The work of the delivery service

Optimized logistics is the hallmark of any successful online store. The faster you deliver the goods, the higher the chances of placing new orders. The main types of organization of this work include:
Open sources contain a lot of information about the principles of the functioning of logistics. These offers can be used independently, it is enough to correctly configure the search on the World Wide Web. Good information on the topic can be obtained even from free sources, and paid ones will offer ready-made solution models. In addition, we will help clarify all the nuances of using expansion-fulfillment in your enterprise.

General outline of a business plan for e-business

No two detailed business concepts are completely identical. However, the general principles are the same for all. You need to draw up a plan creatively, not forgetting to include the following paragraphs in its contents:

Executive basis

Another name for this item is an executive summary. A brief but concise statement of the main ideas of the company's functioning will help to lead the business in a given direction. It is also helpful to include a description of the products. Be sure to outline the features and uniqueness of the business.

Internal characteristics of the company

This paragraph includes provisions for both employees and internal organization. It is useful to distribute duties, areas of responsibility and authority among the staff in advance. It also reveals the business model of the enterprise itself.

Market Research Questions

There are no trifles in the conduct of e-commerce. Starting to study the market situation, it is necessary to form a portrait of your client. This includes socio-demographic and occupational data. Processing them will help to predict the needs for purchases, and therefore prepare the actual product for sale. Simultaneously constantly evaluating your performance will improve the overall result.

Production of the company

With the help of an online store, you can sell goods or services. It is necessary to fully know their features, to understand the strengths and weaknesses. It is useful to immediately identify the main and alternative sources of obtaining goods, focus on the implementation of unique offers. In production activities, this provision applies to raw materials and the technical base used.

General concept of marketing

Promotion of goods in the market is necessary to ensure the success of the entire enterprise. It is also important to increase the customer base. The modern market operates dozens of effective tools for this. Work with buyers can be organized in social networks. Good reviews are received by SEO, PR and email marketing, which are harmoniously integrated into the overall content strategy. Don't forget to reward customers for their loyalty. Statistics confirm that customers who receive bonuses make purchases of the promoted brand at least once a month.

Organization of the internal work of the enterprise

This concept is multifactorial and includes aspects of direct activity. This should definitely include the procedure for processing payments, arranging delivery, accepting orders, processing returns, the operation of your store's website, and much more. How clearly there will be a docking between these issues directly affects the level of income of the company.
The drafting of this paragraph requires the utmost precision and flexibility. Cash accounting should take into account the sources of their income and the reasonable distribution of expenses. Attracting investments is impossible without a clear development of this document. Step-by-step planning should include a statement of income and expenses. The current state of affairs will help to display the balance sheet, and you can sum up the results for a certain period using the cash flow statement. Overloading the financial plan with unnecessary parameters is undesirable, however, the primary version should be as voluminous and comprehensive as possible.

Summing up

Preparation of a business plan is the key to successful activities in the field of e-commerce. The mission worked out on its basis will act as an engine for business development. Maximum dedication, the use of additional sources and analytical data will help you make your business plan lively and effective. This document is not static as the market is constantly changing. Making changes is an objective response to a dynamic reality.
It is important to consistently work out all the components: from the business mission to the full development strategy. With the help of concepts such as product description, target market analysis, detailed description of the procedure for conducting operations, you will increase the efficiency of your work.
Particular attention should be paid to the work of the staff. The people you hire will earn money for you. And even if all operations are automated as much as possible, no company can do without employees. A clear organization and distribution of responsibilities will allow everyone to act in sync. Even force majeure in this case will not be able to knock the company out of the given development schedule.
Your plan should take into account real time periods. Do not expect to force the main stages - you need to work taking into account circumstances that may not depend on you.