Business plans are designed to answer a lot of questions about your flash of cash. You can use the following list of questions to address almost every aspect of your new venture. However, you might need to change this list, by adding or deleting some questions, so that you are only answering questions that are relevant for your business and your target audience.
Describing your online business
- What is your online business? Transaction site? Content site? Paid subscriptions site?
- What is the name of your online business? The domain name (www.yourbiz.com)?
- When did you start your online business?
- What is your business model? How are you going to make money?
- How fast is your online business going to grow? In revenue? In profits?
- What are your financial and operational goals and objectives?
Selling your products and services online
- What products and services are you going to sell online? What are their benefits?
- What makes your products better than those offered by your competitors?
- Why would your customers rather buy from you online, than from your competitors offline?
- What do you expect your best selling product to be?
- Are you launching a new product line, or just expanding an existing one?
Analyzing your market and industry
- How big is the online market for your products and services?
- How big is the offline market for your products and services?
- How fast is the online market for your products and services growing? Offline?
- How will changing technology impact your online business?
- Are there any barriers to entering or exiting your online industry?
- What trends are driving your online industry?
Identifying prospects and customers in your target market
- How many prospects, or potential customers, are in your online market? In the offline market?
- What is your market share? Is it growing?
- How much do your prospects buy online? What are they buying online?
- What demographic variables can you use to segment your market?
- Are you getting a lot or repeat business from current customers?
Identifying your competitors
- What are the names of your direct and indirect competitors?
- How many online competitors are in your target market?
- What is the ratio of online to offline competitors?
- How big are your competitors? In revenue? In profitability?
- Why is your online business better than the competition?
- What are your competitive strengths? Their weaknesses?
Conducting market research
- What other products did your customers consider before buying yours online?
- Do your prospects have contracts with other suppliers that keep them from buying from you?
- Have you surveyed your prospects to determine what they like about your online business?
- Why did some of your prospects choose another online business to make a purchase?
Developing a marketing strategy for your online business
- Is your pricing above, below, or the same as your competitors?
- What benefits do your products and services offer consumers?
- Are you only going to sell online?
- What advertising services are you going to use for your online business?
- Where are you going to store your merchandise for distribution?
- How much money do you have to promote and advertise your Web site?
Managing your online business
- What are the names and experience of your management team?
- Does your management team have any experience running an online business?
- Do you have all the right management skills to run a business? An online business?
- Where are you going to get help to run your online business?
- How is your online business organized? What are the job functions?
Hiring personnel to run your online business?
- How many people currently work for your online business?
- How many more people are you going to need to hire?
- Where do you recruit your employees?
- Do you have a training program?
Financing your online business
- How much money will you need to start your online business?
- When will your business be profitable?
- How fast are your sales and profits going to grow over the next three years?
- What is the book value of your online business?
- Are you taking in more cash than you are spending?
- How many products do you need to sell to breakeven?
Every online business needs to be able to answer a detailed set of questions, such as those presented above, especially if it is looking for outside financing from bankers or venture capitalists. Many banks, and some venture capitalists, will give you a specific list of questions that will need to be answered before they will even consider you for a loan or an investment. Therefore it is important that you anticipate the questions, and provide answers accordingly.