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 school you’re running and what its status is. For instance, are you a new business, do you have a school that you want to grow, or do you run a chain of schools?
Next, give an overview of each part of your plan that follows.
- Give a quick summary of the school business.
- Talk about the kind of school you are running.
- Detail your direct competitors. Tell us about your ideal customers.
- Give a quick summary of your marketing plan. Find the important people on your team.
- Give an overview of how you plan to handle your money.
In your business summary, you will say what kind of school you are running.
For example, you could specialize in one of the following types of schools:
- Private K–12 schools usually charge tuition and may be connected to a religious group or focus on a certain way of learning.
- Charter schools offer primary or secondary education for a fee and may get some money from the government or donations. These schools make their students take tests that are required by the state.
- Special subject school: This kind of school focuses on teaching a certain subject, like driving, first aid, self-defense, fine arts, language, or general tutoring.
- Preschool is a type of school where kids between the ages of 3 and 4 usually go. These schools help young kids get ready to go to regular school. They are paid for by a mix of tuition, donations, and government grants.
In the business overview, you need to say what kind of school you will run and give some background on the business.
Include answers to things like:
- When did you start your business, and why?
- What important steps have you taken so far? Milestones could be the number of students who were helped, the number of students who were accepted into top schools, and so on.
- Your legal business Are you set up as an S-Corporation? An LLC? A single-person business? Tell us about your legal structure.
In your industry or market analysis, you need to give an overview of the school industry.
Even though this may seem pointless, it has more than one use.
First of all, learning about the school business gives you knowledge. It gives you a better idea of the market you are in.
Second, market research can help you make a better marketing plan, especially if you use it to find market trends.
The third reason is to show readers that you know what you’re talking about. You do just that by doing the research and putting it in your plan.
In the industry analysis section of your school business plan, you should answer the following questions:
- How many dollars is the school business worth?
- 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 school’s potential target 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 customer analysis section of your school’s business plan, you must explain who you serve and/or who you hope to serve.
Here are some examples of customer segments: families with kids in elementary school, families with kids in high school, and families with kids in preschool.
As you might guess, the type of school you run will depend a lot on the customer segment(s) you choose. Obviously, marketing campaigns for families with high schoolers would be different from those for families with preschoolers.
Try to figure out who your ideal customers are based on how they look and how they think. In terms of demographics, you should talk about the ages, genders, locations, and levels of income of the people you want to serve.
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 find and keep customers.
In your competitive analysis, you should list your business’s direct and indirect competitors and then focus on the direct ones.
Other schools are your direct competitors.
Indirect competitors are other things that customers can buy besides your product or service that aren’t in direct competition with it. This includes public schools, online schools, and families who teach their own children at home. You should also talk about this competition.
Give an overview of each competitor’s business 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 important facts about them, like
- Which types of students do they serve?
- What kind of school do they go to?
- 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 you offer specialized teaching, either in terms of what you teach or how you teach it?
- Will you offer classes or services that no one else does?
- 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 school business plan should include the following:
Product: In the product section, you should say again what kind of school you talked about in your company overview. Then, explain what products or services you will be selling. For example, will you offer K–8 education with a religious focus, courses that prepare students for college, or single-subject education like driving or fine arts?
Price: Write down the prices you’ll be charging and how they compare to those of your competitors. In the product and price sections of your plan, you show what courses and/or extracurricular activities you offer and how much they cost.
Place means the location of your school. Write down where your business is and how the location will affect your success. For example, is your school in a growing area, in the middle of the city, or will it only be online? Talk about why your site may be the best place for your customers.
Promotions: The last part of your school marketing plan is where you write down how you will get potential customers to your place of business (s). Here are some ways you could promote your business:
- Advertise in the local newspapers, radio stations, and/or magazines
- Get in touch with websites
- Put out flyers
- Engage in email marketing
- Place ads on social media sites
- Improve your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) for specific keywords
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 everything that goes into running your school, like answering phone calls, planning and giving lessons, applying for grants, raising money, doing administrative work, supervising teachers, dealing with discipline, setting up and keeping track of extracurricular activities, etc.
Long-term goals are the goals you want to reach in the future. These could be the dates when you think you’ll get your Xth student or when you hope to make $X. It could also be when you want to open a new school in a different city.
A strong management team is needed to show how successful your school could be. Showcase the backgrounds of your key players, focusing on the skills and experiences that prove they can help a company grow.
You and/or the people on your team should have managed schools before. 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 by giving advice. They would help answer questions and give advice on how to plan. If you need to, look for advisory board members who have run a school, worked in public school administration, or been on a public school board.
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 parts 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 accept 100 or 1,000 students per semester and/or offer activities outside of the classroom? 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.
The Balance Sheets
Balance sheets list what you own and what you owe. Balance sheets can have a lot of information, but try to boil them down to the most important parts. For example, if you put $50,000 into building out your school, you won’t make money right away. Instead, it is an asset that you can use to make money for years to come. Also, if someone 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.
Statement of Cash Flow
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, make sure to include some of the most important costs of starting or growing a school:
- Cost of supplies and equipment
- Payroll or salaries given to employees
- Insurance for businesses
- If you’re starting a new business, you’ll also have to pay for legal fees, permits, computer software, and equipment.