Your executive summary is the first part of your business plan, but you usually write it last because it is a summary of all the important parts.
The point of your Executive Summary is to get the reader’s attention quickly. Tell them what kind of 3D printing business you have and how it’s going. For example, are you a startup, do you have a 3D printing business that you want to grow, or do you run a chain of 3D printing businesses?
Next, give an overview of each part of your plan that follows. For instance, you could give a short summary of the 3D printing industry. Talk about what kind of 3D printing business you have. Detail your direct competitors. Tell us about your ideal customers. Give a brief overview of your marketing plan. Find the important people on your team. And explain what your financial plan is.
In your business analysis, you will explain what kind of 3D printing business you run.
For example, you might run one of the following types of 3D printing businesses:
- Rapid Prototype Printer: This kind of 3D printing business specializes in making prototypes of new products quickly for companies or people who are designing them.
- Aerospace, Automotive, and Railway Printers focus on making the mechanical parts that go into making airplanes, cars, trucks, and trains.
- Consumer Products Printer: This kind of 3D printing is used to make things like shoes, glasses, and jewelry.
In the Company Analysis section of your business plan, you need to explain what kind of 3D printing business you will run and give some background on the business.
Answers should be given to questions like:
- When did you start your business, and why?
- What important steps have you taken so far? Milestones could include the number of customers served, the number of good reviews, the number of corporate clients, and so on.
- Your legal structure. Are you set up as an S-Corporation? An LLC? A single-person business? Tell us about your legal structure.
In your industry analysis, you need to give an overview of the 3D printing industry.
Even though this may seem pointless, it has more than one use.
First, learning about the 3D printing industry gives you knowledge. It gives you a better idea of the market you are in.
Second, market research can help you make your strategy better, especially if it shows you market trends.
The third reason to do market research is to show your readers that you know a lot about your field. You do just that by doing the research and putting it in your plan.
In the industry analysis section of your 3D printing business plan, you should answer the following questions:
- How much money does the 3D printing industry make?
- Is the market going down or up?
- Who are your main rivals in the market?
- Who are the main market suppliers?
- What changes are happening in the field?
- How fast is the industry expected to grow in the next 5–10 years?
- How big is the market that matters? That is, how big is your 3D printing business’s potential market? You can figure out such a number by figuring out how big the market is in the whole country and then applying that number to the population in your area.
In the section of your 3D printing business plan called “Customer Analysis,” you must describe the customers you serve or expect to serve.
Some examples of customer segments are fashion designers, engineers who work on medical devices, and car manufacturers.
As you might guess, the type of 3D printing business you run will depend a lot on the customer segment(s) you choose. Obviously, marketing campaigns for fashion designers and car manufacturers would be different.
Try to figure out who your ideal customers are based on how they look and how they think. In terms of demographics, talk about the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the people you want to serve. Because most 3D printing businesses mostly serve people in their own city or town, it’s easy to find this kind of demographic information on government websites.
Psychographic profiles explain what your target customers want and need. The better you can understand and define these needs, the easier it will be to get customers and keep them coming back.
In your competitive analysis, you should list your business’s direct and indirect competitors and then focus on the direct ones.
Other companies that do 3D printing are their direct competitors.
Indirect competitors are other places where customers can buy things that aren’t direct competitors. This includes services like design, engineering, and making things. You should also talk about this competition.
In terms of direct competition, you should list the other 3D printing businesses that you are in direct competition with. Most likely, the closest 3D printers to you will be your direct competitors.
Give an overview of each of these competitors’ businesses and list their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you’ve worked at one of your competitors’ companies, you won’t know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key facts about them, such as:
- What kind of clients do they work with?
- What kinds of materials can they print using 3D printing?
- How much do they charge (high, low, etc.)?
- What can they do well?
- What do they do wrong?
For the last two questions, try to answer them from the customers’ point of view. And don’t be afraid to ask the customers of your competitors what they like and dislike about them.
The last part of your competitive analysis section is to list the ways you are better than your competitors. As an example:
- Will your printing be of a higher quality or will it be done faster?
- Will you offer things that your competitors don’t?
- Will you treat your customers better?
- Will you price things better?
Think about how you will do better than your competitors and write them down in this part of your plan.
Usually, a marketing plan has four parts: the product, the price, the place, and the promotion. Your marketing plan for a 3D printing business plan should include the following:
Product: In the product section, you should repeat the type of 3D printing business you wrote about in your Company Analysis. Then, give specifics about the products you’ll be selling. For example, do you offer design services, shipping services, or other engineering services in addition to 3D printing?
Price: Write down the prices you’ll be charging and how they compare to those of your competitors. In your marketing plan, the product and price sections are basically where you list the services you offer and how much they cost.
Place: This is where your 3D printing business is located. Write down where you are and how that will affect your success. For example, is your 3D printing business in a busy shopping area, business park, industrial district, etc.? Talk about why your location could be the best for your customers.
The last part of your 3D printing marketing plan is the section on promotions. Here, you’ll write down how you’ll get people to your location (s). Here are some ways you could promote your business:
- Putting ads in newspapers and magazines in your area
- Contacting local websites
- Social media marketing
- Local radio advertising
In the other parts of your business plan, you talked about your goals. In your operations plan, you talk about how you will reach those goals. Your plan for operations should have two separate parts.
Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks needed to run a 3D printing business, such as quoting printing projects, reviewing designs with an engineering team, programming the printer to complete the design, meeting production quotas, and delivering products to clients.
Long-term goals are the goals you want to reach in the future. These could be dates like when you want to print your 100th design or when you want to make $X. It could also be when you want to move your 3D printing business to a bigger space.
For your 3D printing business to show that it can be successful, you need a strong management team. Showcase the backgrounds of your key players, focusing on the skills and experiences that prove they can help a company grow.
The best case scenario is that you and/or your team have direct experience running 3D printing businesses. If so, talk about your experience and skills. But also highlight any experience you think will help your business succeed.
If your team is missing something, you might want to put together an advisory board. A two-to-eight-person advisory board would help your business in the same way that a mentor would. They would help answer questions and give advice on how to plan. If you need to, look for people on your advisory board who have managed 3D printing, other engineering services, or small businesses.
Your 5-year financial plan should include a monthly or quarterly breakdown for the first year, then an annual breakdown after that. Your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement are all part of your financial statements.
A more common name for an income statement is a Profit and Loss statement, or P&L. It shows your income and then takes away your expenses to show if you made a profit.
You need to make assumptions in order to make your income statement. For example, will you print three new designs every day or send out 30 packages every three months? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% every year? As you might expect, the financial forecasts for your business will be greatly affected by the assumptions you choose. Do as much research as you can to try to make sure your assumptions are true.
Balance sheets show both your assets and your debts. Balance sheets can have a lot of information, but try to boil them down to the most important parts. For example, if you spend $50,000 to start up your 3D printing business, you won’t make money right away. Instead, it is an asset that you can use to make money for years to come. Likewise, if a bank gives you a check for $50,000, you don’t have to pay it back right away. Instead, you will have to pay that back over time.
Cash Flow Statement: Your cash flow statement will help you figure out how much money you need to start or grow your business and make sure you never run out of cash. Most business owners and entrepreneurs don’t realize that you can make money but still go bankrupt if you run out of money.
When making your Income Statement and Balance Sheet, be sure to include some of the most important costs of starting or growing a 3D printing business:
- Location build-out, which includes construction, design fees, etc.
- Cost of supplies and equipment
- Payroll or wages given to employees Business insurance
- Taxes and licenses:
- Legal expenses