A business that does not plan by default has already planned to fail, this is more so when a digital business is implemented without the prior discipline of business planning.
I prefer writing a business plan on my own computer using Microsoft or Apple as opposed to third party software.
A business plan is not a static document and it is much easier to own, edit and personalize when it is written from your own computer, especially if you are planning on seeking debt, equity or angel finance.
Although the first section in a business plan is an executive summary, it is usually harder to write this section in the beginning of the dialogue.
I usually find it easier to write the executive summary after completing the financial plan, that is, the section that details the analysis of a sales forecast, cash flow projection, projected income statement and balance sheet.
I find it much easier to then write the summary and then to proceed with the fleshing out the text based sections of the plan.
A summary gives details of the concept, the cost to the financier, the profit expected to be realized and people that can make this happen.
After settling the summary it is time to give a description of the business. This describes what business the business will be in, will it be selling physical products through Shopify or offering search optimization services.
The vision, mission, values, company strengths and core competencies, target market (brief mention) and management expertise should be discussed as an overview.
It is important that the planner's experience and skills are well aligned to the digital model being planned, content marketing and authority will be much easier to achieve than when the marketer has to rely on research to produce content.
Furthermore, a thorough analysis of the opportunity must be communicated through the section on business analysis.
This section encompasses going through the exercise of elucidating how the business will be impacted by the contextual environment characterized by influences in politics, society, regulation, technology, economy and environment.
Also, industry trends must be discussed through the analysis of Porters 5 forces, also known as the transactional environment. The digital marketer needs to familiarize himself with industry specific reports and know the current best practices in the business.
I know it may sound boring and academic but this exercise is vital for success. The forces are: threat of new entrants, threat of substitution, powerful buyers, powerful suppliers and competitive intensity among current competitors.
Lastly, the business analysis must cover a swot analysis, this is a review of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the business currently have.
If you plan to offer SEO services then you need to keep a close eye on Google and what industry leaders such as Moz are doing and how you can compete given the scope of the swot capacity of the business.
Moreover, a business plan entails a well layered business strategy. This involves the product positioning strategy or competitive strategy, find out and understand what others are good at and differentiate your offerings with your skill set and experience.
Business strategy also involves a description of your product and features that will be your content online. Also this section has to discuss the product benefits, procurement, distribution, customer care, competitor analysis, brand strategy and pricing.
Furthermore, (iam not done yet) the business plan has to detail the strategic marketing process. This is the part that can be summarized into customer acquisition.
It involves defining the target market, market or niche research, possible marketing channels to be used, the proposed marketing campaign, marketing budget and marketing controls.
Additionally, the digital marketer has to mention how his staffing needs are going to be organized. This involves a clear value statement, the organogram for the first 2 months of the business, training and development.
I usually do the financial plan first, however, it is worth mentioning that the financial plan must be included.
This covers what the start-up and operating capital would be, important assumptions; especially about things the business can't control such as the economic impact and tax regulations.
Additionally, the financial plan has to include capital cost items and the various budgets and forecasts.
I know this may seem like a daunting task, but I promise you it not as hard as it looks and it worth its weight in gold for any business owner.
Don't outsource your business plan do it your-self and consult when necessary.