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Executive Summary

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 business you are running and what the status is. For example, are you a startup, do you have a digital magazine business that you’d like to grow, or are you starting an online magazine business?

Next, give an overview of each part of your plan that follows. For example, you could give a brief summary of the magazine business. Talk about what kind of business you are running. Detail your direct competitors. Describe the people you want to reach. Give a quick summary of your marketing plan. Find the important people on your team. And explain what your financial plan is.

Company Analysis

In your business analysis, you will explain what kind of business you are running.

For example, you might run one of the following types of magazine businesses:

  1. This type of magazine business focuses on topics like arts, culture, fashion, and leisure.
  1. Academic and professional magazines: This type of magazine business focuses on topics like money, health, or science.
  1. Home and living magazines are about cooking, decorating, and other things like that.
  1. Business magazines are usually about business people, companies, new business or technology trends, and so on.
  1. Digital magazine: This type of magazine can be read on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. You need an internet connection to view or download the content, but once it’s downloaded, you can watch it without an internet connection.
  1. This type of electronic magazine is similar to a digital magazine, but it usually has less to offer. To see the content, you need to be connected to the internet.

In the section of your business plan called “Company Analysis,” you need to explain what kind of magazine startup you will run and give background information about 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 positive reviews, the number of annual subscriptions, and so on.
  • Your legal business structure. Are you set up as an S-Corporation? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Tell us about your legal structure.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you have to give an overview of the magazine industry.

Even though this may seem pointless, it has more than one use.

First, learning about the magazine business 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, you should answer the following questions:

  • How big (in dollars) is the magazine business?
  • 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 magazine 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.

Customer Analysis

In the customer analysis section, you need to explain who you serve and/or who you hope to serve.

Advertisers, customers of different ages and with different interests, and authors are all examples of customer segments.

As you might guess, the type of magazine business you run will depend a lot on the customer segment(s) you choose. Business people and teens, for example, would respond differently to marketing campaigns.

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. Most magazine businesses mostly serve people in their own city or town, so it’s easy to find 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.

Competitive Analysis

In your competitive analysis, you should list your business’s direct and indirect competitors and then focus on the direct ones.

Other magazine businesses are direct competitors.

Indirect competitors are other places where customers can buy things that aren’t direct competitors. This includes social media sites, other books, or other ways to spend your free time. You should also talk about this competition.

In terms of direct competition, you should talk about the other magazine businesses you are up against. Most likely, your closest competitors will be people who buy and sell houses.

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 do they focus on or what niche do they fill?
  • What types of formats do their books come in?
  • How often is the magazine printed?
  • How do they set their prices (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 give better articles, features, and/or photos?
  • Will you provide more opportunities for guest authors?
  • 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.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a magazine business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product: In the product section, you should reiterate the type of magazine company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to printed magazines, will you offer a digital version?

Price: Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place: Place refers to the location of your magazine company. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your magazine business located near a distribution center, or in an area known as a “hub” for the content you specialize in, etc. Discuss how your location might be ideal for attracting and retaining customers.

Promotions: The final part of your magazine marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Reaching out to local websites
  • Flyers
  • Social media marketing
  • Local radio advertising

Operations Plan

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 you need to do to run your magazine business, such as selling ad space, making good content, finding contributors, designing each issue, etc.

Long-term goals are the goals you want to reach in the future. These could be the dates when you hope to get your 10th big ad contract with a major magazine, when you hope to have 5,000 subscribers, or when you hope to make $X. It could also be when you want to start sending your magazine to a new city.

Management Team

For your magazine 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.

You and/or other members of your team should have experience running magazine 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 advisory board members who have worked in publishing, marketing, or running a small business successfully.

Financial Plan

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, how many issues will you put out each month? 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 growing your magazine 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 Sheets, make sure to include some of the most important costs of starting or growing a magazine 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