Lesson 2: Outlining your business overview and the products and services you offer
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn how to effectively outline your business overview and showcase the quality, value and benefits you offer through your products and services.
We know you’re just getting started, so we’re going to help you nail this section of writing a business plan. It’s an important one, especially if you’re hoping to attract investors or partners. You need to be clear about what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, what problem your business solves and how it will compete with other businesses selling the same or similar products and services.
This section of your business plan needs to be more than just a list of what your business provides– think of it as the chapter to excite those you’re hoping will fund your business or work with you.
With that being said, be sure to write this section with your ideal audience in mind (rather than for your own self-interest). Resist the temptation to produce a cookie-cutter template– it’s more important to inject personality and your own unique flair to help your audience get a feel for the ‘character’ of your business. This will save you time and energy down the track and help you win over customers and potential investors.
By the end of this lesson, you’ll have a good sense of how to create a products and services section that will not only appeal to your reader but help them understand how your business stands out in the market.
Feeling a tad overwhelmed? Want to take a step back? Our Developing Your Business Idea course is a great place to get started on your business idea.
Throughout this lesson we'll check in with Kelly as she starts her business journey
Downloadable business plan template
If you haven't already, please download the Business Plan template, so you can update it along the way. If you’re having trouble opening the docx format we’ve got you covered. Check out the handy how-to page.
What’s included in the Products and Services section of your Business Plan
Activity 1: Getting clear on your business objectives
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of your products and services, begin by working through the downloadable worksheet below and write down your business mission, strategies, objectives and milestones.
If you’re getting stuck on this, ask yourself: what is the purpose of my business?
Hint: make sure to lead with the benefits, not just the features. How does your product or service improve your customer’s life?
Spend the next 30 minutes working through these questions. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers: it all comes down to what you want to achieve with your business and the plan you’ve got in place.
Where are you setting up shop?
When writing a business plan, it’s important to include the location you’ll be operating from, the location’s history, facilities and equipment you’ll be using, its legal structure, set up costs, funding and insurances you choose.
What’s your marketing strategy?
You can also include your marketing strategy and any plans for advertising and promotions, sales forecast and cost of sales. In addition to this, look back on your target market and focus on market demographics, market growth, trends and forecasts for the future.
What makes your business different or unique?
Finally, describe the nature of your industry, as well as your competition, while nailing down your business’s milestones with dates, budgets and specific responsibilities.
You’ll need to address the problems your business solves, why it’s needed, your ideal customers and what is different about your product or service offering (eg; is there a specific niche? Do you have business policies that set you apart from the competition? Different price point?).
This section can be broken down into subheadings:
- what you sell
- who you sell to
- current state of play
Activity 2: Take 20 minutes to brainstorm ideas for subheadings
Here’s an example of what Kelly’s baking business subheadings look like:
- I sell personalised cookies
- I sell to primary women aged 17-50
- Opportunities to sell personalised cookies for all calendar and holiday events, not just Christmas
- I anticipate the percentage of growth for my products will be 15% per year. I expect word of mouth will drive this growth
- The current baking industry ‘temperature’ with regard to personalised cookies is low in both my industry and area. This places my business as the ‘go-to’ brand for personalised cookies, having a positive effect on business growth.
Activity 3: Do a S.W.O.T analysis
If you’re wanting to dive a little deeper to showcase your expertise and experience, create a SWOT analysis table.
Here you can list out your businesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a table, and then go into more detail about how you will overcome each of the weaknesses and threats. Include education or experience that makes you an expert in your field and any testimonials, awards or endorsements that position you as the best person to provide your product or service.
Here are some examples to think about; reputation, technology, location, experience, staff, overheads, speed of market growth, niche, joint venture, competition, suppliers, materials, costs, etc.
Activity 4: Attract your dream investor
We’ve all heard about the power of visualisation and writing things down, so set aside 10 minutes to outline who your ideal investor or partner is.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are their values?
- What’s their personality like?
- How much interest do they have in your business?
- Would you prefer a silent partner? Or a part-owner?
This exercise is particularly helpful in finding your perfect match. If you plan on being in business for an extended period of time, you’ll want to work with people who help you on your journey–not make it more difficult.
We recommend using business planning software to help you develop your idea – one that's intuitive and easy to use.
In the next lesson
We'll take you through specific marketing and industry information. By the end of the next lesson, you’ll be able to define your market, pinpoint your products and flesh out what makes your business different.