An executive summary is an outline of the business plan you will write this semester. In this assignment, you are required to summarize your proposed business plan in ~1,000 words. The executive summary should include the following:
- Market opportunity
- Sales and marketing strategy
- Product description
- Financial projections
- Financing needs and planned exit
- Team biographies
Remember that the executive summary will change many times throughout the semester and many books stress that the executive summary should be written last. However, it is important to think about the entire process and plan your work according to milestones.
The executive summary is due on 12th October and is worth 5% of your semester grade
Description of target customer
In this assignment, you are required to submit a 1-2 page summary of your prospective target customer. Keep the following in mind when considering your target customer:
- How many target markets exist for your prospective business? Discuss them all briefly but describe in details, one of those target markets. Do not miss any prospective target markets out with the intention to make your work less, you will be graded against full completion of the assignment (which includes discussing ALL prospective target markets)
- Describe the chosen target market in detail and make sure to discuss the characteristics i.e. demographic, lifestyle, psychographic, cultural etc.
- Make sure to keep in mind that the prospective customer must have the ability to purchase the product / service that your business offers.
This assignment should not be written as a report but rather as a story. Incorporate the requirements of the assignment into a coherent 1-2 page essay style paper.
Market definition (1-2 pages)
In the second part of the assignment, you are required to use primary and secondary research to figure out what is the current market / industry is for your business.
You might think there is no market for your product / service, however, in every case, there is an alternative. Think about what the target customer is spending their money and time on. Those products / services that the customer is currently buying are the competition.
For this section, you can think of the following questions:
- What is the total amount being spent on the market that my product/service is a part of?
- What is the growth rate of this market
- What does the growth rate depend on e.g. oil price and the airline industry
- How is the market segmented? Choose one or more ways of segmenting the market (breaking it into parts). Some ways that may be considered are:
- By industry
- By features
- By technology
- By geography
- By type of competitor
By the end of this assignment, you should have a clear picture about who will be buying from your company and about what your segmentation strategy will be so that you can have a clear target market in mind. Remember, this section can be changed later and it is more important that you finish the assignment on time.
This assignment is due on 26th October 2015 and is worth 15% of your total grade
Now that the market and the target customer have been identified, it seems that now you are ready to launch the product. The problem however, is what if a competitor copies your idea and all your hard work is gone for nothing!
In this assignment, you are required to develop a competitive strategy outlining how your product or service is unique and hard to imitate. You need to discuss the following:
- What is your unique selling point (or competitive advantage)
- What are the alternatives for your target market (what are the customers buying now)
- What are the main competitors in your industry
- Show how the product or service is different from those competitors
- How will you grow your company? Think about sustaining the competitive advantage
- How will you protect your product or service? Will you be using IP?
- What are the barriers to entry for your business?
One of the most important parts of this section is make sure that all the sections are cohesive. E.g. you cannot serve a target market that is price-conscious with a value proposition that has a high cost. Make sure all parts of the previous assignments and this one flow together.
Another important part of the assignment is to discuss the competitors (point number 3). In order to show how your product will outperform the competition, you need to analyze the competitors thoroughly. Some of the questions you may consider are:
- Length of time the competitors have been in business
- What is the mission and vision
- How is their financial situation?
- Who are the key partners?
- How are they financed? Are they public or do they have investors?
- What is their target market? What area are they targeting?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of their products / services
- What do customers think of them
- What intellectual property do they own?
- What is their key competitive advantage?
This is a very important section. Think about a competitive advantage as a unique value proposition that is difficult to imitate.
This assignment is worth 10% and is due on 9th November at 11:59pm.
Assignment 4 – Go to market section
The marketing mix
Now that you have identified strategies for market segmentation, target marketing and competitive advantage, you are required to discuss your business in the context of the marketing mix in order to analyze your entry to market strategy. You need to consider the following:
- What will your product or service be priced at? Is it higher than the competition? If so, why?
- What are the major products and services that you will be offering at the initial launch? What other products or services will you launch in the future?
- What promotions will you provide (if any) in order to encourage to the customer to buy from you and not the competition?
- How will you sell the product? What are the major marketing channels that you will use to sell the product e.g. wholesale stores, retail stores, online etc
Make sure to justify all claims that you make with references (if possible). You will be graded in this assignment based on how your marketing mix has been thought of and how it fits within your business.
This assignment is worth 10% of your final grade and is due on 23rd November at 11:59pm
Assignment 5 – Financial feasibility analysis
In this assignment, you are required to draw up numbers for your business. You need to use the attached spreadsheet to calculate your profit and loss analysis for the first three years. This is important in order to financially measure the prospective success of your business and to account for additional funding requirements down the line.
The most important part of this assignment is to use real numbers. All your numbers must be referenced (unless there is no reference, in which you will need to use close alternative numbers).
Assignment 6 – Final Business Plan
You now have all the parts for the business plan, the focus of this assignment is to link all the assignments together and make it cohesive and easy to flow. The business plan should not be more than 20 pages double spaced (without appendices, table of contents, cover page etc.) so you might have to scale down some assignments or summarize some parts.
The final business plan is due on 9th December 2015 and you are required to present a 5-10 minute summary of the main points of your business plan the following week (14 + 16 December). The business plan design is worth 5% and the presentation is worth 5%.
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