Options for Development and How to Utilize Your Plan

In Part I we addressed the writing of your retail business plan, including describing and delineating specific areas relating to the creation and implementation of your storefront business. In this article, we’ll consider a basic outline for your document.

The most important aspect of any business plan is that it’s clearly written and organized. Although you will be asked questions regarding your venture, they should not be queries based on anything that is unclear or confusing in the document. As an example, if you believe you’ve defined your potential clientele and a few people review the plan and a majority of them ask you who you’ve determined will be your customer base, then you probably want to rewrite that section of your plan.

Questions related to your business plan should be based on interest in the project and not confusion over the document. Before presenting your plan to a potential financial source, you should have three people, whose judgment you trust and who will provide you with feedback, read it.

This plan is a sales document that you will need to know inside out and be prepared to present, expand upon and defend. Here are some of the essential categories that you’ll want to include in your plan.

Introduction:

  • Describe your business by defining the concept of your venture and the purpose of your company.
  • Does your establishment/business have a catchphrase?
  • Describe the image of your business.
  • Delineate the type of business you’ll be creating—partnership, sole trader, limited partnership, co-operative, etc.
  • Present the objectives of your retail establishment.

Product:

  • Define exactly what you will be selling and why.
  • Compare your product to competitor’s goods and explain what sets it apart from similar wares.
  • Additionally, address where it fits in the marketplace—high-end and expensive, moderately priced, or inexpensive? Will there be a range of products in terms of pricing?

The Market:

  • Describe your potential customer base.
  • Is there potential for continued growth in this segment of the population?
  • Why would they want to buy your goods?
  • Discuss potential competition and how you will contend with it.
  • In what way will the city, community and location be conducive to the success of your business?

Marketing Plan:

  • Consider your product and what aspects make it attractive to customers.
  • How will you draw customers to your establishment?
  • Will you offer special promotions?
  • How will you focus your marketing to get the most value from the money spend?
  • What types of media will you utilize?

Personnel:

  • How many people will you need to hire in order to successfully run your business?
  • Define each if their jobs in relationship to the running of the business.
  • How many hours will your employees work? Will you be using full-time, part-time or both types of employees?
  • Do your employees need to be experts in the product and will they need prior sales experience?

Operation:

  • This is where you specifically describe how your business will function.
  • Include storefront and behind the scenes operations.
  • A daily, weekly and monthly schedule describing important operational elements is helpful.
  • Schedules might include maintenance, restocking of inventory, billing cycles, display development and changeover, etc.

Customer Relations:

  • What is your philosophy regarding your customers?
  • How will you handle exchanges, customer complaints and returns?
  • Will you offer some sort of discount or customer rewards program?

Premises:

  • Where is your store located and how will people get to it?
  • Is parking available, is the storefront visible and can it be easily found?
  • Does it need to be renovated or upgraded?
  • Stylistically, what will the outside and inside look like?
  • Will it be a pleasant place to shop? In what way?
  • Is there room for expansion?
  • Is storage available for inventory?

Financial Outline:

  • Key financial facts should be presented before going into detail.
  • Forecast of Profit and Loss.
  • Cash Flow Forecast for you business.
  • Describe the Break-Even point for your company.

Summary of Content:

  • Use this section to bring the focus back on your specific business.
  • Reiterate the value of your product.
  • Define once again, in a few words, the image of your company.
  • Create a final, positive picture of your venture and its relationship to the community, your customers and the other businesses.

Appendix:

  • Include CVs.
  • Details relating to the premises.
  • Marketing examples, such as ads, brochures and photographs.
  • Flow charts, diagrams, examples of the product.
  • Anything else that will provide substance to your presentation.

This thumbnail sketch of a retail business plan can serve as a basic template for your use. However, be mindful that this article in no way presents a complete picture of a successful plan. As an example, in order to develop a useful plan, you’ll need to know how to determine Profit-Loss, Break-Even Point and Cash Flow. We have not addressed those specific exercises in this piece. Additionally, plans vary according to the specific needs and requirements of each business.

As you prepare this document be sure to do your research and compile your facts carefully. Your business plan is the written foundation for what you hope will lead to your success in the highly competitive world of retail.

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