As society becomes increasingly dependent on the internet, small businesses — and the people who are looking to start them — have realized the importance of making a name for themselves online. Many, however, don’t know where to begin with their business idea.
The idea of creating a business plan and a website can seem daunting, yet with the right website builder and a plan, it doesn’t have to be.
That’s why this guide is all about how to write a business plan specifically for small business websites. First, you’ll learn about the steps of a standard business plan, then cover some basic knowledge about a small business website, and by the end, both will be combined to form a new 6 step business plan template.
Here’s how everything is broken down:
- The 10 parts of a typical business plan
- Important elements of a small business website
- The 6 features of a business website that encompass both
The 10 parts of a typical business plan
At times, business-related terminology and metrics can seem vague, but by defining each step of a business plan template, it’ll become clear how each step has a place on your website.
Here is a brief description of the 10 parts of a standard business plan:
1. Executive summary
Defines what exactly your business is — what the company’s mission statement is and what goods or services are offered.
2. Industry analysis
Provides information about what industry your business is a part of, and situates both the industry and your business in the context of the present day.
3. Business description
Expands on the executive summary to give a more in-depth description of your business’ history, present operations, and future goals and objectives.
4. Target market
Identifies the intended consumers or clients for your business’ goods or services, respectively, and how your business serves those demographics.
5. Competition analysis
Observes your business’ competitors within the industry, compares target markets, and addresses the advantages your business has over its competitors.
6. Marketing strategy
Explains how your business plans to launch their goods or services, on what platforms they’ll be available, and how distribution will be carried out. This section should outline financial projections and your expense budget details.
Details how your business will reach its intended launch platforms, including the cost of establishing these platforms and over what period of time.
8. Operating procedures
Outlines the day-to-day procedures of your business on each of its respective platforms, establishes business regulations and protocols, and employee payroll.
9. Management and personnel
Describes the hierarchy and working relationships between positions in your business, the personnel holding these positions, and the acquisition of new employees.
Specifies primary sources of revenue, how the money will be used within your business (manufacturing, inventory, distribution, research and development, maintenance, salary allocation, advertising, etc.), and analyzes business performance. This section should outline financial projections and your expense budget details.
By detailing each of these out, the hope is to gain further insight into your business’ unique proposition and angle for success.
Important elements of a small business website
Now that you have a vision in place with your business plan, you need to create a small business website to be successful in this digital age. In case you aren’t familiar with creating a business website, this can serve as a quick overview. First, there are the five most common web pages that small businesses focus on. That includes:
- A home page for welcoming potential and returning customers.
- An about page to explain who you are and build the trust of visitors.
- A contact page to legitimize your business and collect emails to add to your subscriber list.
- An ecommerce section for selling your goods or services. A blog or gallery page to showcase your work, thought leadership, and offer insight into your industry and business.
Those web pages then work in tandem with different tools to form a high-quality website. These tools come in the form of:
- Domain name: Registering a memorable domain name can have a positive impact on the number of repeat visitors.
- Company logo: Using a logo maker, generate a unique graphic and customize it to reflect your brand’s image.
- Mobile responsiveness: Mobile-responsive designs that adapt to any desktop, tablet, or smartphone screen are needed in today’s world. This includes functionality like reformatting, resizing, and switching between vertical and horizontal views.
- SEO tools: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your page appear on search engine results like Google and Bing. SEO tools help to differentiate your website from the thousands (or millions) of other pages across the web that are relevant to a search query. Constant Contact’s website builder comes with built-in website SEO technology.
- Security: Having security measures like SSL encryption automatically included in your web design protects both you and your customers’ information.
- Analytics: Tracking store analytics — like website traffic and eCommerce performance — can help you stay on your game, continually improve, and grow your business.
A good website builder like Constant Contact will offer these tools and features, giving you more time to focus on running your business.
The 6 features of a business website
Now that you have a basic understanding of a standard business plan and the working parts of creating a website, you’re ready to get started with the business plan template for your website.
Essentially, there are 6 features of a small business website — a combination of the web pages and supporting aspects listed above — that perfectly encompass steps of an average business plan.
1. Your Home page is your executive summary
This is the most important page in small business website design. Think of your Home page like an executive summary — it provides a quick overview of your small business, your mission, and what products or services you have to offer. Your Home page, however, takes an executive summary and makes it inviting.
With a business plan, the goal is to stay clear and concise (somewhere between 1-4 sentences).
In a website format, however, you have to balance the formal, informational tone with writing that’s inviting. If your website is someone’s first impression of your company, you want them to be greeted and welcomed in, not overwhelmed with too much information.
For this, utilize:
- Positive imagery – This could be customers or clients smiling. This could be your physical storefront (either the inside or outside). It could be anything that reflects positively on your company brand.
- Headline – Your headline could be the name of your company or it could be the product or service you offer.
- Tagline – This optional text below your headline can further describe your company, product, or service. Where the headline might be a few words or a phrase, your tagline can be anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph.
Apart from these, your Home page, much like your executive summary, sets up the viewer to experience the rest of your business. Be sure to link this page to the rest of your website to drive them forward.
2. Your blog houses your industry analysis
Your website’s blog exists for many reasons, but information is the primary one. The information on your blog is determined both by the industry you’re in and what you’re trying to achieve.
It can act similarly to the industry analysis portion of the business plan. That’s because your blog is where you’ll create written and visual (imagery and videos) content that shows your expertise in the industry. Ultimately, this content helps to position you as a leader among your competitors.
3. The About page tells the story of your business
Your About page expands on the introductory information you provide on your homepage in terms of what you do (a business description). Here you’ll want to tell the story of your business and the problem you’re solving for your customers.
Use this as an opportunity to tell your story:
- How did your business come to be?
- Why should people care?
- What makes your business different?
- What has it accomplished so far and what is it currently doing?
- What does it hope to do in the future?
This is also the place where many businesses choose to put photos and descriptions of the team. It’s a great opportunity to show their personalities and action shots.
Whatever it looks like for you, it’s a great way to show your customers that there are real people behind the management and personnel titles.
4. SEO tools act as target market and competition analysis
Online businesses rely heavily on SEO tips and strategies (as mentioned above) to be seen by search engine users. To employ the best SEO tactics, you need to understand your target audience and outperform your competitors and their strategies.
This is another area where small business websites and business plans intersect. Traditional business plans typically involve target market research and analyzing competitors.
However, when doing this online, you don’t just identify your intended consumers — you actually target them, giving value to the term “target market.” Using SEO strategies, like incorporating specific keywords that relate to your brand, allow you to create content specifically for the demographic you want to find your site.
Plus, with competition analysis on a digital scale, your business can observe the keywords and phrases other businesses in the industry are using and consider what makes your business’ products unique.
5. Your eCommerce platform is the marketing strategy and implementation
With a small business website, your marketing strategy is straightforward: you’re entering the world of ecommerce via a virtual store. You’ll have the ability to sell and distribute physical products through major shipping carriers. And, you’ll also have the ability to offer intangible goods — like downloadable products, virtual consulting, and other digital possibilities that could fit your brand.
Implementation, in terms of a business website, means working backwards from your goal of ecommerce and mapping out the process of what it’ll take to get you there.
- Pick the desired website plan
- Choose and register a domain name
- Generate a logo for your brand
- Post powerful images and descriptions of your inventory
- Estimate the costs associated with maintaining a high-quality website
6. Analytic tools are used for operating procedures and financials
When you take your small business online, you can streamline and analyze operating procedures and financials significantly easier. Of course, how revenue, payroll, and operations will work need to be established prior to starting your ecommerce journey. But once these financial plans are in place and your online storefront is in operation, these will be easier to maintain. For example:
- Security measures like SSL encryption exist without you having to do anything.
- Every transaction is accounted for in real-time and compiled so you can monitor the trends in traffic and sales, including how often people are visiting and for how long, the geographic locations of your visitors, your revenue per visit per day, and more.
- Organization tools like visual aids, charts, and graphs can help grasp larger operational expenses and concepts.
Having these analytic tools makes tracking your store’s performance easier than ever before, and you can adjust your business’ day-to-day procedures accordingly.
Moving forward with your new business plan template
As you set up your small business website, you will be navigating new territory. Much like how a business plan sets you up for success in the physical domain, your website plan will ensure your success online.
Get started with Constant Contact to gain all of the tools mentioned above. And remember, there are a few actionable steps you can take:
- Start by generating your physical business plan, even if it’s as simple as designing it with pen and paper.
- Take this great business plan and map out how you want to translate this online.
- Use Constant Contact’s website builder to create a platform that reflects your small business.
- From there, start to grow your audience, your reach, and your business using the analytics tools to guide you.
By combining thoughtful preparation (your business plan) with intelligent web design tools (Constant Contact), you will create a great website for your small business.