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How to Write a Business Plan for Your Online Store

9 min read

Opening an online store may seem like easy work. And with tools like Ecwid’s ecommerce platform, it can be. But opening an online store is not the same as running an online business. Launching your business is one very important step in a much longer process. Sustainable success in business, whether an online store or any other type of business, requires a business plan.

But not everybody knows how to write a business plan. If you’ve never done it before, figuring out what should be included in your business plan may seem daunting. Factor in as well that different business models require different business plans. For example, the outline for an online store’s business plan will look vastly different from a nonprofit organization’s business plan.

With that in mind, you’re probably wondering how to make a business plan for an online store in particular. To help with that, you can simply follow this helpful guide.

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What Is a Business Plan?

It might help to briefly define what a business plan is at the start. When discussing a formal business plan, the term refers to a physical document that outlines the goals and structure of a business. Most traditional business plans are thorough, covering a wide range of topics that are essential for day-to-day business operations.

These include some structural elements, like leadership positions, budgets, and operational procedures. It also includes a strategic outline, for things like marketing strategies, product descriptions, and the company’s mission statement.

Having a business plan is important for a couple of key reasons. First, it provides direction, stability, and consistency for the company. Second, it can aid in decision-making if your company is trying to weigh the pros and cons of a couple of different business ideas. And third, it can help your business expand or take on new investors by providing a solid framework.

With these basics out of the way, we can now take a look into what makes a good business plan.

What Should Be Included in a Business Plan?

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a high-level overview of your company’s structure, history, and goals. This should be placed at the front of your business plan. This is because it’s intended to provide executives and potential investors with a quick document to read when introducing them to your business. Additionally, the subsequent pages of your business plan can go into greater detail on many of the topics covered here.

Business Description

Your business description is your chance to define who you are and what your company will do. The first key element to focus on is what type of business you are. What do you sell, and what is your business model (B2B, B2C, etc.) Your business description should also mention what sets your business apart from competitors. That could be exceptional customer service, higher-quality products, or anything else. Last, you should take time to flesh out your company’s mission statement and values. This will be very important later on when your business is expanding or facing unique challenges.

Market Analysis

Your business plan should also include a section that covers your competitors, target market, and any potential consumer personas.

Your target market is the demographics of consumers to who your business is most interested in selling. Consumer personas are hypothetical personalities that fit your target demographics. Identifying consumer personas can be very helpful later on when outlining your marketing plan. It is not always necessary to include in-depth consumer personas in your business plan. However, it is a very helpful exercise in drafting the document.

Lastly, your marketing analysis should also include a section on your competitors. This can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your market, as well as opportunities within the market.

Products and/or Services

Perhaps the most straightforward section of your online store business plan is the products and services section. This section should outline the products your company sells or services you provide. In addition to product listings, you should also include pricing for each product. This will be essential later on when it comes to setting your budget.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is one of the most intricate aspects of your business plan, often requiring a lot of work. A marketing plan should cover a few very important concepts. First, why should consumers prefer your business over competitors? Second, how will your company reach its consumers? What social media channels will you use? And what other kinds of marketing content will you focus on? Third, what will your content strategy be?

Crafting your business plan will require a careful fusion of your market analysis along with your company’s values and mission statement. Your marketing strategy is where you connect the dots between who you are and what you sell. For more detailed instructions on creating a strong marketing plan, read our helpful B2C marketing guide for ecommerce.

Budget, Legal, and Finances

Last, your business plan should detail all of the financial and legal aspects of your business. This includes your budget, startup costs, and quarterly projections. Be very thorough in documenting all business costs and projected expenses as well as income. Apart from the executive summary, this is often the most important section of your business plan for potential investors.

It’s also sound business practice to include a brief section outlining any legal considerations relevant to your business. For an online store, this could include things like fraud protection and shipping or manufacturing issues.

Reviewing Your Business Plan

So, how do you know if your business plan is good once you’ve finished drafting it? A simple way to review your business plan is to ask yourself a few basic high-level questions about it. When you finish your first draft, you should look over your business plan and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the business do?
  • How is the business organized/structured?
  • Who are the business’s consumers/customers?
  • How will the business appeal to its target consumers?
  • How does the company project to grow moving forward?

If your business plan answers each of these questions satisfactorily, you’ve done a good job. And if not, you can always go back to revise your work and conduct more research.

Want to learn more about running an online store? Read Ecwid’s guide on starting an online store with no money for tips on getting started. Or, read about content marketing strategies for helpful tips on how to promote your online business.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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