5 Ingredients Your E-Commerce Business Plan NEEDS
Has this ever happened to you? You are all excited and enthusiastic about a business idea and are just itching to go change the world. Then you find yourself not knowing where to start or what to do, or even ask yourself how do you start your own business online?
You start sweating. You start panicking. You feel lost. You have dreamt of owning the biggest and best-est online business Singapore has ever seen. With our article today, you can stop Googling “online business Singapore” because we will be giving you the online business plan for your online business Singapore style.
Well, in this day of data, both big and small, you can’t just rely on hard work anymore. There’s content marketing, SEO optimisation, and social media management, all these on top of the traditional fundamentals of running an actual business like the accounts, managing staff, product development, etc.
We have to face the fact that there are a lot more people going online now, especially with working remotely and WFH situations. While this translates into you having more potential customers, it also means that you’ll have more competition to contend with.
You going in blind and without a clear and actionable plan for managing finances, marketing, operations, and other parts of your business, is just a recipe for disaster…or, at the very least, a significant uphill battle.
That’s why our article today will be looking at why you should craft a business plan and how you should go about doing it.
What Is A Business Plan?
Generally, a business plan lays out how your business will run, how you will get the funding for it, who your audience is, how you are going to market your product, and how you plan to succeed.
Why Do You Need One?
Think of your plan as your roadmap along the highways of commerce. Especially when things are all digital now. You can get lost rather easily trying to chase down the next unicorn instead of growing into one.
How Does It Benefit You?
Get Where You Need To Go
Now that we see the business plan as our map, it only stands to reason that having one will streamline our journey. We all know that time is money in this world of business. We don’t want to waste time unnecessarily, getting lost and going around in circles.
Generate More Ideas
Your business plan should help you focus your energy on understanding your business and who you want to target. With these two touchstones in mind, you are then able to generate ideas for your business that are specific to your target market.
Understand The Market Better
As we will see later, a part of your business plan will include your market research as well. This will come from your customer profile or customer persona. If you want to learn more about how to create your very own customer profile, have a read through our article here.
Keep On Track With Milestones
Do you see yourself getting your first million in five years? Lofty ideals, yes, I admit, but think of your business plan as a “to-do” list of sorts for your ecommerce adventure.
What To Include In Your Plan?
The key to writing a business plan is to create something so detailed that you know what you’re going to do five, ten, fifteen steps down the line. You plan for everything. Know where you are coming from, know where you currently are, and know where you want to go.
You don’t leave anything to chance and you most certainly don’t want to waste time wondering what you’ll do next.
1. Executive Summary
The first thing you should want to include is a short description of your business and other important information at a glance like goals, what you sell, target audience, comparison to competitors, etc.
It doesn’t have to be a memoir or as long as a book. Let’s say around 150 to 250 words would be fine. Let’s look at an example of this.
We’ll go with our own Shopcada.
“Shopcada is the ultimate online marketplace solution for getting people started on their ecommerce journey.
Our goal is to provide our customers with a simple, yet highly effective and robust omnichannel system for all their online business needs.
Instead of trying to navigate through a hundred different apps just to manage inventory, shipping, customer service, and POS, we give you the world at your fingertips.
Our service takes the technical confusion out of the equation so that everybody can be an entrepreneur.”
What we have done there in 82 words is we have summarised who we are, what we want to do, our unique value proposition, and the benefits of our system.
An executive summary is that simple. Think of it as a bit of character background for your company; the foundation upon which you operate the business.
2. Describe Your Company In More Detail
This page should be a more detailed description of you and your business. Some things to consider here would be why people should trust you, what is your background, etc.
Think of it this way, if the first executive summary is what you want your ideal business to be like, this second page is what you are like right now. We’ll give you a different example this time.
Let’s take CopyCat.inc, a copywriting agency that we made up right now.
“CopyCat Copywriting Agency provides copywriting services to companies in the automotive industry.
The owner, Mr. Maine Coon, has been a professional copywriter for over 20 years working for various high-profile companies. He now decided that it was time to start his firm and bring a fresh new style of copywriting that stands out from the rest.”
For this description, we’ve covered the owner, his years of experience which will inspire confidence in whoever wants to join on board, and we’ve gone over what he is providing/selling.
3. Market And Industry Research
In a traditional business, you are anchored to one spot, and customers are limited to that area. Online businesses, the world is at your fingertips.
That said, do not try to cater to everyone. You need to narrow it down either to a specific demographic or a particular niche. If you want to learn more about niche businesses, have a look at our Business Niche article here.
Some things you can start asking yourself about at this point are stuff like:
- What kind of problems are my customers facing?
- What can I do to solve these problems?
- Is my product a consumable or disposable good?
- How often will customers be returning or just purchasing my product in general?
These questions should help you on your way with market research.
4. Operations Plans
At the end of the day, we are in business to make money. This portion of your business plan outlines how you will run things.
Simply put, this portion describes what your typical business day will look like - how will it be run, how will people convert, how will you deliver on those orders, and where will you be sourcing the goods from.
Some things to think about are:
- What are the supplies and/or equipment that I will require?
- What kind of hierarchy are we looking at?
- Am I dropshipping or do I need to do R&D?
- What kind of staff and just how many of them would I need?
- Am I going to have to scale all of these as the business grows?
Be mindful of your foundations as we’ve mentioned earlier since you want to have a business plan that caters to your core business as well as your intended clientele. These operations plans should reflect that.
5. Marketing Strategy
Last, but not least, you’ll want to outline how you plan to market your business. Some of the most popular ones we’ve seen are:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Affiliate marketing
We’ll go ahead and put in a disclaimer here that just as in our copywriting article, which you can read here, there is no one right answer to which strategy works best. This is because there are no two businesses that are the same.
What we are doing here is content marketing and while it works out quite brilliantly for us, you may find that social media marketing is more your style.
Of course, we are not saying that this is all you need, but this is what you need to get started. Where you go from here, that is up to you. If you plan to get investors, you might want to include financial models and costs & revenue predictions, etc.
We also do have to note that your business plan is something that you will keep coming back to as your company and experience grow. It’s not set in stone and it will serve to be a useful guide to keep you grounded in reality when your lofty ideals get too ambitious.
We hope you have found this article helpful. All the best in crafting the commandments which will guide your business!