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The economic outlook indicates fewer VA, WV, NC, and MD cycling enthusiasts will travel outside the region The park has added a camping and lodging facilities that should attract an increased number of visitors The park has opened up additional areas for trail exploration and construction, ensuring a greater number of single-track options and therefore a greater number of visitors.

Clearly define your type of business. Identify your customer. You cannot market and sell to customers until you know who they are. Explain the problem you solve. Successful businesses create customer value by solving problems. In our rental example, one problem is cycling enthusiasts who don't--or can't--travel with bikes. Another problem is casual cyclists who can't--or choose not to--spend significant sums on their own bikes. The rental shop will solve that problem by offering a lower-cost and convenient alternative.

Show how you will solve that problem. Our rental shop will offer better prices and enhanced services like remote deliveries, off-hours equipment returns, and online reservations. If you are still stuck, try answering these questions. Some may pertain to you; others may not. Who is my average customer? Who am I targeting? Unless you plan to open a grocery store, you should be unlikely to answer, "Everyone! How will I overcome that paint point? Where will I fail to solve a customer problem Where will I locate my business? What products, services, and equipment do I need to run my business?

What skills do my employees need, and how many do I need?

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How will I beat my competition? How can I differentiate myself from my competition in the eyes of my customers? You can have a great plan to beat your competition but you also must win the perception battle among your customers. If customers don't feel you are different Perception is critical.

Provide high quality equipment, sourcing that equipment as inexpensively as possible through existing relationships with equipment manufacturers and other cycling shops Use signage to attract visitors traveling to the national forest, highlighting our cost and service advantage Create additional customer convenience factors to overcome a perceived lack of convenience for customers planning to ride roads and trails some distance away from our shop Develop customer incentive and loyalty programs to leverage customer relationships and create positive word of mouth.

Are products or services in development or existing and on the market? What is the timeline for bringing new products and services to market? What makes your products or services different? Are there competitive advantages compared with offerings from other competitors? Are there competitive disadvantages you will need to overcome? And if so, how? Is price an issue? Will your operating costs be low enough to allow a reasonable profit margin?

How will you acquire your products? Are you the manufacturer? Do you assemble products using components provided by others? Do you purchase products from suppliers or wholesalers? If your business takes off, is a steady supply of products available? The following is a breakdown of anticipated rental price points, per day and per week:. Customers can extend the rental term online without visiting the store.

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A grace period of two hours will be applied to all rentals; customers who return equipment within that two-hour period will not be charged an additional fee. Newer equipment inventory with higher perceived quality Price points 15 percent below the competition Online renewals offering greater convenience A liberal return grace period that will reinforce our reputation as a customer-friendly rental experience.

What is the size of the market? Is it growing, stable, or in decline? Is the overall industry growing, stable, or in decline? What segment of the market do I plan to target? What demographics and behaviors make up the market I plan to target? Is demand for my specific products and services rising or falling? Can I differentiate myself from the competition in a way customers will find meaningful? If so, can I differentiate myself in a cost-effective manner? What do customers expect to pay for my products and services? Are they considered to be a commodity or to be custom and individualized?

Your potential customers. In general terms, potential customers are the people in the market segment you plan to target. Say you sell jet skis; anyone under the age of 16 and over the age of 60 or so is unlikely to be a customer. Plus, again in general terms, women make up a relatively small percentage of jet ski purchasers. Determining the total population for the market is not particularly helpful if your product or service does not serve a need for the entire population. Most products and services do not. Total households. In some cases determining the number of total households is important depending on your business.

For example, if you sell heating and air conditioning systems, knowing the number of households is more important than simply knowing the total population in your area. While people purchase HVAC systems, "households" consume those systems. Median income. Spending ability is important.

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Does your market area have sufficient spending power to purchase enough of your products and services to enable you to make a profit? Some areas are more affluent than others. Don't assume every city or locality is the same in terms of spending power. A service that is viable in New York City may not be viable in your town. Income by demographics.

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  6. You can also determine income levels by age group, by ethnic group, and by gender. Again, potential spending power is an important number to quantify. Senior citizens could very well have a lower income level than males or females age 45 to 55 in the prime of their careers. Or say you plan to sell services to local businesses; try to determine the amount they currently spend on similar services. Always remember it's much easier to serve a market you can define and quantify.

    What do I have to do?

    What is your market? Include geographic descriptions, target demographics, and company profiles if you're B2B. In short: Who are your customers? What segment of your market will you focus on? What niche will you attempt to carve out? What percentage of that market do you hope to penetrate and acquire? What is the size of your intended market? What is the population and spending habits and levels? Why do customers need and why will they be willing to purchase your products and services? How will you price your products and services?

    Will you be the low cost provider or provide value-added services at higher prices? Is your market likely to grow? How much? How can you increase your market share over time? Recreational sports in general and both family-oriented and "extreme" sports continue to gain in exposure and popularity. Western VA and eastern WV have experienced population growth rates nearly double that of the country as a whole. Industry trends show cycling has risen at a more rapid rate than most other recreational activities.

    You may want to add other categories to this section based on your particular industry. The key is to define your market -- and then show how you will serve your market. Focus on your target market. Who are your customers? Who will you target? Who makes the decisions?

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    Determine how you can best reach potential customers. Evaluate your competition. It's hard to stand out from a crowd if you don't know where the crowd stands. Know your competitors by gathering information about their products, service, quality, pricing, and advertising campaigns. In marketing terms, what does your competition do that works well?

    What are their weaknesses? How can you create a marketing plan that highlights the advantages you offer to customers? Consider your brand. How customers perceive your business makes a dramatic impact on sales. Your marketing program should consistently reinforce and extend your brand.

    Before you start to market your business, think about how you want your marketing to reflect on your business and your products and services. Marketing is the face of your to potential customers--make sure you put your best face forward. Focus on benefits. What problems do you solve? What benefits do you deliver? Customers don't think in terms of products--they think in terms of benefits and solutions.

    Your marketing plan should clearly identify benefits customers will receive. Take Dominos; theoretically they're in the pizza business, but really they're a delivery business. Focus on differentiation. Your products and services have to stand out from the competition in some way. How will you compete in terms of price, product, or service? What is your budget for sales and marketing efforts? How will you determine if your initial marketing efforts are successful? In what ways will you adapt if your initial efforts do not succeed? Will you need sales representatives inside or external to promote your products?

    Can you set up public relations activities to help market your business? Road signage. Access to the forest is restricted to a few primary entrances, and visitors reach those entrances after traveling on one of several main roadways. Since customers currently rent bicycles in the local town of Harrisonburg, road signage will communicate our value proposition to all potential customers.

    Web initiatives. Our website will attract potential visitors to the resort. We will partner with local businesses that serve our target market to provide discounts and incentives. Promotional events. We will hold regular events with professional cyclists, like demonstrations and autograph signings, to bring more customers to the store as well as to extend the athletes' "brand" to our brand. What are their strengths? Price, service, convenience, extensive inventory are all areas where you may be vulnerable.

    Weaknesses are opportunities you should plan to take advantage of. What are their basic objectives? Do they seek to gain market share? Do they attempt to capture premium clients? See your industry through their eyes. What are they trying to achieve? What marketing strategies do they use? Look at their advertising, public relations, etc. How can you take market share away from their business? How will they respond when you enter the market?

    Check out their websites and marketing materials. Most of the information you need about products, services, prices, and company objectives should be readily available. If that information is not available, you may have identified a weakness. Visit their locations. Take a look around. Check out sales materials and promotional literature. Have friends stop in or call to ask for information. Evaluate their marketing and advertising campaigns. How a company advertises creates a great opportunity to uncover the objectives and strategies of that business.

    Advertising should help you quickly determine how a company positions itself, who it markets to, and what strategies it employs to reach potential customers. Search the Internet for news, public relations, and other mentions of your competition. Search blogs and Twitter feeds as well as review and recommendation sites. While most of the information you find will be anecdotal and based on the opinion of just a few people, you may at least get a sense of how some consumers perceive your competition. Plus you may also get advance warning about expansion plans, new markets they intend to enter, or changes in management.

    You might be surprised by what you can learn about your business by evaluating other businesses. The industry enjoys relatively high profit margins Entering the market is relatively easy and inexpensive The market is growing--the more rapidly it is growing the greater the risk of competition Supply and demand is off--supply is low and demand is high Very little competition exists, so there is plenty of "room" for others to enter the market. Now distill what you've learned by answering these questions in your business plan:. Who are my current competitors?

    What is their market share? How successful are they? What market do current competitors target? Do they focus on a specific customer type, on serving the mass market, or on a particular niche? Are competing businesses growing or scaling back their operations? What does that mean for your business? The milliner might decide that she wants to create unique, commissioned hats and not work with retailers, so she would not have to deal with the potential markup of a retailer. She might sell directly at consumer shows, open studios or by appointment to clients in her own studio.

    This might sound very expensive yo you, but actually, this price level is pretty standard and what one would expect to pay for a unique commissioned hat in London! If the milliner wanted to sell at a lower rate then she would have to make more hats that are similar to bring her production costs down and the quantities up. She would have the same income, but her business model would be very different! Is that doable and do you feel comfortable with that, or is it far too many or far too few?

    What kind of business do you want to run: very bespoke and at the high end, or sell a lot more products but at a lower price point? Do you want to sell directly to your clients or through retailers? How would you produce your products if there are lots of them, and how would you market and sell them too? Are you still worried about being too expensive? Read this blog posts to get some alternative responses to clients who say that you are too expensive. If you want to avoid being a starving creative then read this blog post.

    If you are looking at how to cost your services and in particular your hourly or daily design rate, then click here. Did you find this post about how to calculate the cost price for your creative product useful? Did you use the formula to calculate your own craft or design products? Do let us know in the comments below to share your insights.

    My tax is calculated by deducting business expenses from my income. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Are you charging enough? You have found it here: Step 1: Calculate your hourly overhead costs Start with identifying your annual business overheads. Step 2: Calculate your hourly wage How much do you want to earn? This is a very personal question! This next step in how to calculate how much your product will cost can be a bit tricky! Use averages e. Step 5: Calculate the total material costs The next step in how to calculate the cost price of your creative product is to add all the material costs to produce one hat.

    Step 7: Calculate your total cost price Finally, the last step in how to calculate how much your product will cost! This is how you calculate the cost price of your creative product. You are responsible for the equipment you rent from Event Services. Please ensure the equipment is used properly and held securely.

    You will incur a charge for the full replacement cost for equipment lost, damaged, or otherwise altered. Event Services Estimates. We are happy to provide estimates for your event or any aspect thereof. With your help, we can complete most estimates within ten business days of your request. You must approve the provided estimate for your event to move forward. Sponsored groups and sponsoring department's cost responsibilities. There are several pieces of information that Event Services will need to ensure that your move can be planned properly and completed to your satisfaction.

    Tentative or Incomplete Event Requests.