When writing a business plan, the Industry section is best organized as two parts: an overview of the industry and a summary of your business' position within the industry.
Before writing this section of the business plan, use these questions to focus your research:
Writing a Business Plan: Industry Overview
What is the size of your industry?
What sectors does this industry include?
Who are the major players in this industry?
What are the markets and customers for this industry?
What are the industry's estimated sales this year? Last year? The year before?
What national/economic trends have affected this industry and how?
What national/economic trends might affect it in the future and how?
What is the long-term outlook for this industry?
Writing a Business Plan: Position in the Industry
What products or services will your business be selling?
What is your Unique Selling Proposition ? (What is it about your business that makes it unique and sets it apart from competitors?)
What are the barriers to entry in your industry?
How will you overcome these barriers?
Who are your competitors?
What is the market share of your competitors?
What is your business' competitive advantage (i.e. your market niche or estimated market share)?
What is your target market?
How are you protecting your product or process (i.e. patents, copyrights, trademarks, franchise rights that you either hold or plan to acquire)?
How to Write a Business Plan: The Industry Section
Once you have all this information, you'll write this section of the business plan in the form of several short paragraphs. (Remember, each of these paragraphs is a summary, not a detailed point-by-point explanation.) Use appropriate headings for each paragraph. (See the sidebar for a business plan sample of this section of the business plan, from the Royal Bank.)
But where do you find the information that you need for writing the Industry Overview section of your business plan? Page 2 of this article provides some Canadian resources to make your task easier and some tips for conducting business plan research.