Business Plan, Part 1

As you bring your business online, you need a well-written business plan, the same way you would have one for an offline business. An online business plan will guide you in determining your target audience, your competition, your competitive advantage, your market as well as the cost of marketing and promoting your website. Here are some steps to take in creating your online business plan:


Developing Your Unique Selling Points (USP)

To become successful in the highly saturated and competitive online business world, you need to identify your USP (unique selling points) or your competitive advantage. It is important that you determine what business you are in and the attributes that differentiate you from your online competitors.

To identify your USPs start by assessing the abilities, interests and strengths of your business. If you are an entire company, consider you areas of excellence and competence.

These may include your customer service, your turnaround, or any expertise that your team may possess that sets you apart from the competitors. If you are a single-person online business, take into consideration your professional expertise and experience. These are what you will offer your potential customers.

To identify your own USPs and competencies, you may look to what the competition is offering and their areas of competitive advantage. This will help you craft ways of leveraging your expertise to thrive in a competitive marketplace. Remember that your ideas, products and services can be reproduced easily. Find ways to always stay ahead of your competition.

Setting And Clarifying Goals

Clear goals will give you a direction as to where you want to take your online business. It is very easy to get side tracked when you establish an online presence – there are plenty of opportunities, platforms and solutions that will catch your attention. Nevertheless, let your online business plan reflect your goals so that you will stay on course. Establish financial and non-financial goals that take into consideration your marketing plan. An example of a non-financial goal can be to reach to a certain population (say the Chinese market) in the next 5 years. A financial goal would be something like to increase your business sales revenues from $2 million to $5 million annually. Remember that as your business progresses, the goals set will continue to change as well. This means that your business plan will require revisions as you go along.

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