Here is an example of an online business plan template. You can use this document to help you create an online business plan. As you work your way through each section, you will be prompted to consider each issue and arrive at a decision that fits with your circumstances.

Download this template as an editable document (RTF, 2.6MB).

 

 

DigitalIQ tips

  • Being as detailed as possible can help you to plan more effectively. Sometimes people end up with completed online business plans as long as ten to fifteen pages.
  • You might want to make changes to this template to suit your organisation and circumstances.
  • Consider involving everyone who will play a role in your online business plan. The better your plan is understood by your organisation, the better its chances of success.

Online business description

This section could include:

  • How you are currently using the internet in your organisation and how you would like to use it two years from now (for example, e-commerce or marketing online).
  • A brief statement of the purpose of your online presence – why do want to use digital technologies in your organisation in this way?
  • A brief description of how the new online business plans will affect staff, customers, clients, suppliers and business partners.

Rationale

This section could include:

  • A detailed explanation of your organisation’s aim for the online presence (for example, to cut costs, save time, increase customer base).
  • How the aims meet the related objectives of your organisation.
  • How online business will meet your organisation’s needs or demands—the results of market research into what the target audience wants and does not want on the site.

Management

This section could include:

A statement about

  • Who is ultimately responsible for the online business
  • Who will manage it and the people or organisation maintaining it.
  • What committee, team or person is overseeing it.
  • An outline of the management methodology/strategy to be adopted (for example, meetings and communication).
  • The risks and how you intend dealing with them (for example, intellectual property, contracts with suppliers such as the web developer).
  • A rough schedule for the roll-out of the online business plan.

Marketing strategy

This section could answer:

  • How will the use of website enhance the organisation’s existing marketing plan? What unique marketing tools will the website provide that the organisation has never had before?
  • How will the online business be promoted—what strategies, to whom, when?
  • What promotional features will be used to help drive traffic to the website—banner ads, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimisation, social media promotion?
  • How does its look, feel and content complement and add value to the branding of your organisation?
  • What are the likely costs and required time allocations for implementing and monitoring the promotional strategies?

Resourcing

 

This section could answer:

  • Do you need to hire web professionals to help you, or are you planning on using combination of your own skills and website and e-commerce website creation packages?
  • If you are using the help of web professionals, who will be involved in the development and maintenance of the online business and their respective roles—updating, technical, promotion and so on?
  • What will the approximate time commitment required of each during the development and in the on-going maintenance of the online business be?
  • What new skills and roles might be needed? How they will be met (training, outsourcing, hiring new staff) and what time and costs are involved?

 

 

Equipment could include:

 

  • The hardware or software that may be required by the organisation’s staff in the development and maintenance of the online business (for example, computers and an internet connection for the office).

Funding could include:

 

 

  • The estimated dollar amount required to fund the establishment of the online business and its ongoing maintenance.
  • The source(s) of these funds.

Outsourcing could include :

 

  • What, if any, part of the redevelopment is to be outsourced and how the outsourcing is to be conducted (for example, open tender).

 

Benefits of the online business

 

This section could answer:

  • Who benefits?
  • How will they benefit and over what timeframe?

 

 

Revenue streams could answer:

  • What, if any, are the likely revenue streams from the online business over the next 2–3 years (for example, from sales, purchases of information, uptake of services)?
  • What features will be included to create these revenue streams (for example, e-commerce, shopping carts)?

 

Efficiency gains could answer:

  • In what areas is your business likely to become more efficient? How will these efficiency gains translate into benefits for your business (for example, 20 hours per year saved by providing online application forms, reduced number of enquiries).

 

Challenges and constraints

 

Technical

This section could include:

  • Limitations placed on the range and sophistication of online business features that can be offered due to the audience’s connection speed, browsers, plug-ins.
  • If you are running you own e-commerce platform, resourcing (time and money) required to connect the organisation’s backend databases, accounting systems and so on with the website.
  • Security of data/information—what degree of security of the website is required? How will this be achieved?

 

Legal

This section could include consideration of legal issues such as:

  • Intellectual property (IP) and copyright—for example, ownership of the IP and copyright of the content and concepts to be placed in the site.
  • Privacy—the privacy laws and regulations with which the site needs to comply.
  • Relevant legislation with which the site has to comply and the ways in which that may impact on the project.

 

Organisational changes

This section could include:

  • Potential changes in the organisation’s role and how these might affect the project over time.
  • Change-management plans.
  • Will anyone in your organisation have a reduced role or responsibilities due to the new online business—if so, how and what are the implications for the organisation?

 

Resources and timeframes

This section could include:

  • Collating, editing and clearing the content in time to meet milestones.
  • The complexities and time involved in altering office workflow and processes to incorporate maintenance of the site.
  • Special events or outside forces that may challenge the milestones (for example, key staff on leave).

 

Competitors and collaborators

This section could include:

  • Your competitors and the status of their internet strategies and websites—the extent to which they affect your ability to meet the aims and vision for your online presence.
  • The possibility of collaborating and its mutual benefits.

 

Project evaluation

This section could answer:

 

  • What criteria will be used to judge the degree of success of the online business (for example, 30% cost savings or reduction in staff time allocated to a task, volume of site traffic equivalent to similar sites)?
  • What measurement methodology will be used (for example, who will conduct the evaluation, and will you use a method such as statistics, surveys, focus groups)?