4321 Queen Street, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2K x 5004 Business Plan Guide. Overview

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1 4321 Queen Street, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2K x 5004 Business Plan Guide Overview A business plan is used for more than just securing financing it is a key document that can greatly improve your businesses success. Writing the plan will make you focus on certain areas that you may have missed during your initial planning stage. Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre & Business Innovation Zone 4321 Queen Street, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2K9

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary 1.0 Business Description/Overview 1.1 Overview of Product/Service 1.2 Business Overview 1.3 Required Licenses and Registrations 1.4 Company Management 1.5 Professional Advisors 2.0 Business Operations 2.1 Human Resources Plan 2.2 Suppliers 2.3 Strategic Alliances 2.4 Contingency Plans 2.5 Facility and Equipment Costs 3.0 Marketplace/Industry Overview 3.1 Industry Profile 3.2 Target Market 3.3 Competitor Analysis 3.4 SWOT Analysis 4.0 Sales and Marketing Plan 4.1 Customer Analysis 4.2 Product 4.3 Positioning/Pricing 4.4 Promotion/Advertising 4.5 Place/Distribution 5.0 Financials 5.1 Start-up Budget 5.2 Cashflow Forecast (2 years) 5.3 Project Income Statement (2 years) 6.0 Appendices

3 Executive Summary The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan. It is where you grab the attention of the reader by summarizing the highlights of your business plan in a short document. 1-2 pages in length Written last, but appears first Outlines financial requirements, such as: How much money (if any) are you seeking and for what purpose? How much money has the founder(s) invested in the business to date? How has this money been spent? Summarize your projected financial performance. Do you intend to draw a salary from the businesses in the beginning? If not, how will you support yourself? If so, how much? Highlights key elements of business such as: Your business concept. How will you differentiate your product or service from competitors? What is the legal structure of your company (e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership or incorporated company)? Is your company already in operation or is it a start-up operation? Who is involved in the venture? Briefly summarize your management team's experience and credentials.

4 1.0 Business Description/Overview (Also called a Company Profile) This section gives general information about your business, and describes how your business got to where it is today. If you're starting up, write about what led you to start this business, briefly discuss any relevant experience you bring to it, and outline steps you've already taken to get your business off the ground. If you run an established business, write about when and how the company was started. Describe how your business has changed and grown since then. Include details such as: Business name Business address Hours of operation Date the business was established. Business structure: Sole proprietorship Partnership Corporation Other (Co-op, Limited Liability Partnership) Description of product/service, be sure to include what makes yours unique. Nature of the business (ie: service, retail, manufacturing, agriculture, wholesale, etc.) List of required registrations and licenses. May include: Provincial Business Name Registration (Master Business License) Federal Business Number (GST/HST, payroll deductions, import/export number) Municipal (City) Licenses Regional/Provincial Licenses (Liquor, Daycare, Garage, Video/DVD Rental) WSIB (Workplace Safety & Insurance Board) Company Management Who is running the business and what are their qualifications? Professionals and Advisors, may include: Accountants Lawyers Bankers Insurance Agents Consultants

5 2.0 Business Operations Attracting and holding onto customers is only half the battle. Making your business run as smoothly and efficiently as possible is the other. You'll also discuss your suppliers, any changes that you anticipate in the future and how you plan to handle any unforeseen challenges. Human Resources Plan In this section, you ll discuss employees your business may or may not need and what their function(s) will be. In the beginning it may be just you and a selection of freelance, contract or part-time help. You will need to think ahead and consider all the options you may be faced with. The purpose of this section will be to ensure that you have considered the labour situation in the area and industry in which you're starting the business and have made allowances for the compensation and training of this staff. The Human Resources Requirements of your business plan should cover the following: What specific skills do these employees need to possess? What is the compensation package for each employee? Are your employees protected by workers' compensation coverage? Is your business registered with your provincial workers' compensation board? Most businesses - by law- need to be. Is there sufficient local labour? How will you recruit people if there is not? How much does this labour cost now? In the future? How will you train your staff? What is your policy for ongoing training for your staff? Remember to include safety training. Suppliers Suppliers who are able to meet your needs reliably and at the right price are essential to your business' success. Suppliers include any business whose products or services you need to provide your offering to customers. Be sure to include your main supplier and a back up. Strategic Alliances Discuss other businesses that cooperate with your own. Alliances are special relationships you have with other businesses that complement your products or services with their own. Try to form a relationship with another business who is not competition, but has a similar target market. A good example is a beverage company and a snack company.

6 Contingency Plans Outline how you've prepared yourself and your business for unexpected challenges. Begin by outlining arrangements you've made or intend to make, to ensure you, your family, your employees, and your business will be able to adapt to potential changes. Types of contingency plans include: Insurance: o Personal insurance, like disability and life insurance. o Business insurance, like commercial property, interruption. o General liability insurance. A Will. Most businesses are required by law to carry workers' compensation insurance, which protects you and your business against employee lawsuits related to work accidents and provides benefits to injured employees. To learn more, visit your provincial Workers' Compensation Board. Succession plans that provide for management or ownership of your business in the event you or other key members of your team unexpectedly decide to leave the business or are unable to work. Facility & Equipment Costs Where will you be located? Will you lease or purchase the space? How long and how much is the lease? What are your renewal options? Will rent go up and when? What is the layout? Who is responsible for insurance? What services are included in the lease? Who pays for improvements? List the types (and costs) of equipment, furniture, fixtures, etc.

7 3.0 Marketplace/Industry Overview Every industry is shaped by a range of factors that affect how customers behave and businesses operate. In this section, it is important to give some background on the industry you will be working in. Describe some of the trends in your industry, along with the growth prospects of the industry. It is important to summarize the various sectors within your industry since this will set the stage for the description of where your company will operate. Your Market/Industry Overview should cover the following: What is the total size of your industry? (Potential sales, number of customers, etc?) Imagine you have no competition, and customers only option is to buy from you. How many customers would you have? How much money would your business make? That s the size of your market. Are there seasonal factors that affect the industry? Describe any trends that affect your industry (eg. interest rate sensitivities, government regulations, seasonality). Are they increasing or declining? What kind of long-term outlook does your industry have? Trends/barriers and company response? Target Market/Customers (You ll go into more detail in the Market/Sales Plan) Knowledge of the customer enables you to determine the market size and what determines their buying decision. It provides information that will assist in choosing a location, determining product or services to be offered, establishing pricing and planning a selling strategy. Key issues to consider are: Who will buy your product? Primary and secondary target groups. Where does the buyer live and what is their profile? What factors influence the decision to buy? Who is involved in the purchase decision? How often will buyers buy? Where do they buy, when and how much do they buy? What are the buyer's preferences and needs? Are customers loyal? Can long term relationships be built? Competitor Analysis (see attached information sheets) Who are your major competitors? Primary, secondary and tertiary. What share of the market do they have? What are their strengths and weaknesses (e.g. quality, price, service, payment terms, location, reputation, etc.)?

8 How do you compare to your competitors and how will they react to your entry into the market? Are there factors that could increase or reduce your competition? 4.0 Sales & Marketing Plan Turning a perfect stranger into a happy customer takes more than a great product or service. People need to know about your offering, be willing to pay for it, and be able to find it. In this section, you'll outline your strategy for attracting and satisfying customers. Customer Analysis Your business' success depends on your ability to attract customers and keep them satisfied. In fact, satisfied customers are one of the most effective marketing tools you can have, since they refer more customers to your doorstep. Customer segments are the different types of customers your industry serves. Each segment is bound together by buying behaviour, needs, demographics, tastes, or other characteristics. What are their Demographic Characteristics (things they have in common)? Age Gender Income level Geography Family size Family Life Cycle (single, married, married with children, empty nest) Education Religion and Ethnic Origin What s most important to these customers when buying a product or service like yours? Is it price, quality, convenience, level of service, etc? How often do they buy? How do they prefer to make their purchases - by shopping in person, online, by telephone, etc? How are these customers currently filling their need for your product or service?

9 4 P s of Marketing Product this section was covered earlier in the plan. Positioning/Pricing (see attached information sheet) Positioning refers to creating the appropriate appeals to make the product stand out from the competition in the eyes of the consumer. Pricing can be used as a means of positioning your product. Issues to consider when setting the price are: What control do you have over the product price (e.g. exclusive product, no competition, high market demand, etc.)? What are competitor prices and how do they price their products? What price and sales volume are needed to achieve profit objectives? Can you sell your product at different prices into different markets? Can you maintain your prices over time and what do you expect to happen to competitors prices? Are your prices quantity sensitive? Promotion/Advertising (see attached ideas sheet) It is important to analyze what are the best methods of making your customer aware and what message will motivate them to buy. Items to consider are: What media of advertising and sales do your competitors use? What media of advertising is best suited to reach your customer? Primary and secondary media. (e.g. Primary newspaper and radio; Secondary flyers and trade shows). What sales tools and training will be required for staff? What image are you attempting to build through your promotion? Packaging? Note: While customer service, in store display and merchandising are not part of the market analysis, they are an important part of the business image and promotion package. Ongoing attention should be given to these areas to assure maximum promotional benefit is achieved and that the desired image is portrayed. Place/Distribution How and where is your product/service sold? In person, online, telephone, mail order, etc? What does your competition do?

10 5.0 Financial Information Start-up Budget A list of all money needed to start your business. Calculating these figures now is important because when you plug them into your cash flow statement, they will reveal how much start-up financing you will need to get your business to a point of selfsufficiency. Examples of One-Time Expenses: Down payment on fixtures/equipment Cars/Trucks Starting inventory Utility set up fees Licenses and permits Promotion (Grand Opening) Remodeling/retrofitting Examples of Operating Expenses: Salaries Rent or mortgage payments Storage Office supplies/equipment Utility bills Insurance Professional services (Accountant/Lawyer) Cash Flow Forecast This is a summary of the money coming in and out of your business for the first 3 years (minimum) broken down month-by-month. A cash flow statement is a reflection of how much money your business has at a particular point in time. Although your cash flow and income statements appear to be similar, there is a very important difference. Your cash flow includes details of the time when revenue is collected or expenses are paid. Projected Income Statement This will identify the projected profit/loss from sales for your company over the first 3 years of operation. An income statement shows your profit or loss for a particular period of time, detailing all revenues, expenses and other costs. As with the cash flow statement, it should be prepared on a monthly or quarterly basis to allow for proactive management of any changes. While a cash flow statement is used to monitor a business' cash position, the income statement is predominantly an accounting tool used to measure a business' performance.

11 Projected Balance Sheet This will identify the projected assets and liabilities for your company over the first 3 years of operation. A Balance Sheet describes what your business owns and owes at a specific point in time, usually at the business' year end. Avoid the following common mistakes when preparing your Income Statement and Cash Flow Statement: Projecting overly optimistic sales growth - most businesses grow gradually Ignoring seasonality - is your business busiest in the summer or winter? Underestimating increases in expenses or cash outflows that come with an increase in sales Assuming that collections will always be made in days 6.0 Appendix Include the following: Supporting documents referred to in the business plan. Resumes of Owner and management. A survey and summarized results. Other tools such as charts, graphs, tables.

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