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Old Meets New in the Web Store Business Plan





Old Meets New in the Web Store Business Plan   by David Johnson


E-commerce may be revolutionizing the way the world does
business, but it shouldn’t change your approach to writing a
business plan. Whether you’re starting a Web store from scratch
or taking an existing outfit online, the basic elements of your
business plan will be no different from a traditional
small-business plan.

Those basic elements, according to the Small Business
Administration, are a description of the business, a marketing
plan, a management plan and a financial plan. Consider each
element in the context of a Web store and you’ll develop a
business plan that can’t lose. Here are some tips to get you started:

Business Description
Define the products and services you’ll be selling online and
evaluate your strengths against online and offline competition.
Describe your Web store content — the information on your site
that merchandises your product or service. Exactly what kind of
content do you expect to provide, and how will it relate to your
product or service?

Marketing Plan
Clearly define your target customers, and define the advertising
and sales plans required to reach them. As you formulate your
marketing strategy, consider the online surfing and shopping
habits — as well as the general usability concerns — of your
customer base. For example, what Internet technologies (browser
brands and versions, connection speeds, etc.) do your customers
probably use? Do they want community features, such as message
boards and live chat? Are they open to “push” marketing, such as
e-mail promotions and newsletters? (Find out more by visiting
www.workz.com/attract/home.asp.)

Management Plan
Identify the key players who will plan, build and maintain your
online operation. Don’t forget to include personnel in charge of
your back-end systems, such as customer service (check out
www.workz.com/manage/cs.asp), order fulfillment, warehousing, and
shipping. Determine what tasks will go to existing staff and what
tasks you will outsource to consultants, so your business plan
clearly states where these responsibilities will lie.

Financial Plan
Decide what technical functions are necessary to your Web site
and research the costs of delivering those functions. You can use
a turnkey solution to get your site up on the Internet (such as
AOL or Yahoo! Store), or you can pay for technical expertise and
bring these functions in-house. (Try
www.workz.com/build/vendors/host.asp.)

Once you’ve determined your technical requirements, calculate how far your
existing capital will go and then decide whether to seek additional capital
investment. If you’ve been thorough in developing the rest of your plan, you
’ll be able to project income versus expense based on estimated site traffic
and visitor-to-order ratios (the number of visitors compared to the number
of buyers on a site). Your investors will require this type of forecasting.

Remember the old saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the
same." E-commerce strategy combined with a traditional small-business format
is the winning formula for your Web store business plan.

About Author David Johnson :


David Johnson is the founder, president and director of workz.com. He is a lifelong entrepreneur, small-business expert, and Internet pioneer. He decided to create a trusted resource of objective how-to information to help other small businesses. Because of David's experiences, workz.com continues to provide answers and solutions to the overwhelming issues and challenges facing small businesses on the Web.


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