Online boutique business plan is different from plans for different industries and verticals.
Boutique owners usually need to have business plans because of two reasons
- To keep their business organized and see directions where are they going.
- To present potential investors to get funded.
If you write a business plan for yourself and your employees, you won’t need outdated fifty pages format and five-year delusional projections because you can’t predict and project your online business even for a year. There are too many pieces of this puzzle.
You can assume and wish, but it will be the waste of your time, and as a store/boutique owner/manager, you are too busy running your business and executing on a multiple day to day tasks. Your time is priceless and needs to go to the areas that directly translate into sales.
What if You Create an Online Boutique Business Plan for Potential Investor
You should understand that old fashion investors asking you for the traditional format won’t fund you anyways unless you show an existing profit.
And new generation investors know that online business projections are fictitious and long plans are unnecessary. Nowadays investors would love to see your ideas in the short format (because they are even busier than you are and don’t have time to read your fifty pages fiction novel)
You might be confused and thinking if you still need a business plan. The answer is YES, it is always an excellent idea. The online boutique business plan keeps your vision clear and business organized.
However, you should write your plan differently.
Spend more time on the research and “to do lists” than on detailed writing, so you have all variables ready for execution.
There is a simple template that will help your business to go a little further, learn a bit more and be even bit more awesome (though we both know that if you starting or running your business you’ are already incredible)
Step 1 – Executive Summary
It goes first but should be written last. It summarizes what your store/boutique is about, highlights of your growth if you are already in the business, your products, and your goals.
Step 2 – What Sets Your Store Apart from Other?
- Why should people shop in your store when there are hundreds of established retailers and thousands of small boutiques?
- Who are your customers (we covered this part in How to Start an Online Boutique Part 1 article)?
- What is your company structure and what is your brand about
Step 3 – Competitor Analysis
In my opinion, this part is the most important. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell what sets you apart.
- Identify (realistically) who your competitors are – you can’t compete with someone from the top 500 retailers list.
- Don’t analyze more than five competitors. Three major competitors who sell to the same marketing segment is enough to research.
- It is important to know not only competitors’ products and prices but also goals and strategies.
- But you need to know in depth their products, prices, packaging, promotional method and everything you can find out.
- Competitors’ straights and weaknesses and how you will beat them up pulling their customers to your store
Step 4 – Your Customers
- Who are they? Create your shopper personas.
- How your clients can benefit from shopping particularly in your boutique. What you have other boutiques don’t. What’s unique and special about your business.
Step 5 – Building Community
- Nowadays the market is full of retail merchandise at low prices; you have to build trust and community to make sales.
Social media – which platforms you will use?
- Building Email list – which techniques you will implement? What type of emails you will be sent to keep them interested. Do not confuse building email list with Email marketing – your retention marketing channel.
- How you are going to “humanize” your brand making people come back to you and buy more.
Step 6 – Your Product Mix
- What merchandise you will carry, describe your product lines/mix.
- How it will be different from your competition.
- How do your products benefit your customers.
- Where will you get it?
- Who would be your suppliers and how you will build the relationship with them?
Step 7 – Marketing Strategy
- How will you market your online boutique?
- What are your marketing budgets and timeframe (per day/week/month)
- If you haven’t started your shop, what strategies will you use for launch? How will you let your potential customers know that you are there?
- What is your growth strategy?
Step 8 – Your Team
- Describe your team.
- Who will you need in-house, freelance, agencies, vendors, suppliers, etc.?
- What are the job descriptions (project scopes ) for your E-Commerce manager, web developer, designer, photographer, writer, packing person, accountant, etc.
Step 9 – Shipping and packaging
- What shipping carrier will you use?
- What packaging will make you stand out?
Step 10 – Photography
- How often will you have photoshoots?
- Are they e-commerce, lifestyle or both, in-house or outsourced, with your equipment or photographers?
- Which models will appeal to our target audience?
- How will you present your merchandise visually?
Step 11 – Hardware, Software, Marketing & Educational Tools
- Computers and everything related
- Video and photo equipment
- Programs – Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, video editing,
- Domain, Hosting, E-Commerce Solution, Email Service Provider, Lead Magnet Solution, Blog Them
- Web Analytics, Social Media Management & Analytics tools
- SEO, Keywords, Competitor Spying tools
- Online Courses to fill your knowledge gaps. Online world changes on a daily basis and you have to know how to do it yourself or at least what your employees are doing.
Step 12 – Budgets
While five years projections are useless, you need to plan for at least a year of merchandise, talent, marketing efforts, software/tools. Every year you need to allocate to each area and execute accordingly.
You don’t have to go too fancy with an online boutique business plan. Your creative skills should apply toward your product photography/presentation and graphic design.
A business plan is all about analysis, strategy, tactics, timelines, execution and budgets/resources.
Microsoft word editable document for text and excel spreadsheet for the budget will do the trick.
The business planning is essential. I saw many companies who had fabulous plans, but they went nowhere because owners did not want to allocate resources to exertion processes. As a result, revenues suffered, and companies went out of business.
So, plan fast, and start executing. If you in your business will go a different direction, re-plan it and keep going – nothing is perfect in online retail business. Just do it. Take small consistent steps and you’ll get where you want to be. If someone else could do it, so will you!