Boutique Business Plan Template
Written by Dave Lavinsky
Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their boutiques. On this page, we will first give you some background information regarding the importance of business planning. We will then go through a boutique business plan template step-by-step so that you can create your plan today.
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What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan provides a snapshot of your boutique as it stands today and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.
Why You Need a Business Plan
If you’re looking to start a boutique business or grow your existing boutique, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if required, and plan out the growth of your boutique to improve your chances of success. Your boutique business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.
Sources of Funding for Boutique Businesses
Regarding funding, the primary sources of funding for a boutique business are bank loans and angel investors. Regarding bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.
The second most common form of funding for a boutique is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding or, like a bank, they will give you a loan.
Venture capitalists will not fund a boutique business. They might consider funding a chain, but never an individual location. This is because most venture capitalists look for millions of dollars in return when they invest, and an individual location could rarely achieve such results.
Your business plan should include ten sections as follows:
Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan. Still, it is usually the last section you write because it allows for an overview of each critical section of your plan.
The goal of your Executive Summary is to engage the reader quickly. Explain to them the type of boutique you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a boutique business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of boutiques.
Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the boutique industry. Discuss the type of boutique store you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give a summary of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.
In your company analysis, you will detail the type of boutique business you are operating.
For example, you might operate a boutique focused on:
- High-End Fashion
- Sports/Athletic Clothing
- Kids Clothing
- Wedding Dresses
- Hip Hop Clothing
In addition to explaining the type of boutique business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your boutique business plan needs to provide background on the business.
Include answers to questions such as:
- When and why did you start the business?
- What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales goals you’ve reached, new store openings, etc.
- Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.
In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the boutique business.
While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.
First, researching the boutique industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.
Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends. For example, if there were a trend towards local boutique businesses with online counterparts, it would be helpful to ensure your plan calls for a significant online presence.
The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.
The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your boutique business plan:
- How big is the boutique business (in dollars)?
- Is the market declining or increasing?
- Who are the key competitors in your local market?
- Who are the key suppliers in the market?
- What trends are affecting the industry?
- What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
- What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your boutique. You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of your niche’s market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.
The customer analysis section of your clothing boutique business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to benefit.
The following are examples of customer segments: college students, sports enthusiasts, soccer moms, techies, teens, baby boomers, etc.
As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will greatly impact the type of boutique business you operate. Clearly, baby boomers would want a different atmosphere, pricing, and product options and would respond to other marketing promotions than teens.
Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. Regarding demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most boutique businesses primarily serve customers living in the same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.
Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will attract and retain your customers.
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Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.
Direct competitors are other boutique businesses. They are most likely local businesses that sell similar items to you.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from you that aren’t direct competitors. You most likely will have online competitors; companies that sell the same or similar items to you, but which operate online.
For each direct competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:
- What types of customers do they serve?
- What products do they offer?
- What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
- What are they good at?
- What are their weaknesses?
With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. Look at review websites to gain this information.
The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:
- Will you provide superior products or services?
- Will you provide products that your competitors don’t?
- Will you make it easier or faster for customers to acquire your products?
- Will you provide better customer service?
- Will you offer better pricing?
Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.
Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a clothing boutique business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:
Product : in the product section you should reiterate the type of boutique you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering.
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 items you offer and their prices.
Place : Place refers to the location of your boutique business. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your boutique business located next to a heavily populated office building, or gym, etc. Discuss how your location might provide a steady stream of customers. Also, if you operate or plan to operate kiosks, detail the locations where the kiosks will be placed.
Promotions : the final part of your boutique business 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:
- Making your storefront extra appealing to attract passing customers
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Advertising in local papers and magazines
- Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
- Local radio advertising
- Banner ads at local venues
While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.
Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your boutique business such as serving customers, procuring inventory, keeping the boutique clean, etc.
Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 1,000th customer, or when you hope to reach $X in sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or launch a new location.
To demonstrate your boutique business’s ability to succeed as a business, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.
Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in the boutique business. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.
If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in boutique businesses and/or successfully running a boutique and small businesses.
Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.
In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you serve 25 customers per day or 100? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.
Balance Sheets : While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $200,000 on building out your boutique business, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.
Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. For example, you may need to purchase inventories now that you can’t sell (and get paid for) for several months. During those months, you could run out of money.
In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a boutique business:
- Location build-out including design fees, construction, etc.
- Cost of fixtures
- Cost of initial inventory
- Payroll or salaries paid to staff
- Business insurance
- Taxes and permits
- Legal expenses
Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your boutique’s design blueprint or location lease.
Boutique Business Plan Summary
Putting together a business plan for your boutique business (or an online boutique business plan) is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the boutique business, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful boutique store.
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Boutique Business Plan FAQs
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How to write a fashion business plan
A successful plan will lay the groundwork for transforming an idea into a functional business, and help get investors on board.
What do fashion giants on Fifth Avenue and budding designers working in basements have in common? Before they started manufacturing dresses and hiring app developers, they all had a business plan. Perhaps you want to turn your creative vision into a fashion label. Or you’re ready to disrupt the old guard with a game-changing startup. But you have to start with a plan.
“The business plan should come before your designs,” says Hillary France, founder and chief executive of Brand Assembly , an organisation that helps emerging designers build their businesses. For fashion startups with resource constraints, a plan helps crystallise what, how and to whom you’re selling; establishes what makes you unique; identifies your competitors; and most importantly, shows that you can make money.
Research the market
For creative types, writing a business plan can feel a little overwhelming. But business courses and access to market research and competitive analysis are available. Aspiring fashion executives based in New York, for example, can apply for one of the 25 spots in the FIT Design Entrepreneurs annual programme. Market research firms like Euromonitor and NPD also regularly release reports about market trends and growth rates. While these can cost over $1,000, excerpts are readily available.
It can also be helpful to consult blogs written by venture capitalists like Fred Wilson and Brad Feld for advice on writing a business plan, says Sutian Dong, a partner at Female Founders Fund , which has invested in Rent The Runway and Eloquii . Not only do these provide general advice, but they’re also a window into how successful investors think.
But not all research can be done behind a screen. “It’s about doing the legwork,” says Haeni Kim, founder of direct-to-consumer womenswear label Kitri . Kim thought she had a niche as a “bridge between high street and contemporary”, so she visited bricks-and-mortar shops to gather data and experiences from sales associates to confirm her hypothesis. Kaelen Haworth, the designer behind direct-to-consumer womenswear brand Second Sight , cold-emailed designers who found success in a similar space for advice and found that they were happy to help.
Use family and friends
When raising funds for a business, don’t forget that everyone consumes fashion. “Using people around you is very helpful and very eye-opening,” says Kim, who polled her friends and family via Survey Monkey to develop her deck of consumer insights.
That’s also the case when doing the actual work of plugging numbers into a business plan. Haworth suggests recruiting a friendly MBA student, either as a favour or for a minimal fee, to help create financial spreadsheets. “I’m much more visual, so for me to plug in a number — like, ‘I make 25 of this, what happens to my potential for profit?’ — is hugely helpful,” she explains.
But fashion is ultimately a visual business, and the plan could then lead to a prettier, summarised “pitch deck”, which is used to present the business plan to investors when asking for funding . The pitch deck can also be used to solicit advisory board members, who can use their experience to test a design vision against reality. J eanette Nostra , executive-in-residence at FIT’s Design Entrepreneurs programme, suggests pulling together an advisory board, which could consist of designer mentors, past professors and friends and contacts with experience in law and finance.
All of this requires patience. Kim and Haworth both estimate that putting their numbers and business plans together took around a year before launching their brands. Here’s a template, which should be organic and fit your business.
This section covers the “elevator pitch” for your unique idea as well as a one-sentence mission statement. Summarise your brand and explain what differentiates it. Also, quickly outline your target market, target revenue goals and timeframe. The executive summary should be written last — after all the numbers have been run. It should be no longer than two paragraphs.
Here is where a brand presents its founders’ relevant experience: education, past jobs and unique skills. Also include the form of business entity , based on your location, and list any appropriate partners. Detail your product specifications and manufacturing process. Plus, include how often you will fulfil orders and where/how you plan on distributing and selling. Finally, list the significant challenges you anticipate facing.
This is a chance to show off meticulous market research: identify and detail the opportunity and size of your specific market, your competitors and your target customers.
Manufacturing process and operations
Determine and identify manufacturers and suppliers required to produce your line and detail the costs. Remember to include the costs of samples and account for currency fluctuation if suppliers and manufacturers are based overseas.
Marketing and distribution
Lay out what channels (wholesale, department stores, boutiques, direct-to-consumer) you will use to sell your product while detailing the launch timeline and marketing efforts. If you plan on hiring a showroom or distributor, explain that relationship and costs. Also, how will you scale the brand?
Whether calculated via Excel, Quickbooks or another number-crunching format, this section is crowned by the income statement, which lays out your revenues, expenses and profits and losses over a specific period. Also, present your three-year sales projection to illustrate annual growth plans and a cash flow statement to break down liquidity and assess funding needs for the future. Lastly, include a sheet detailing initial startup costs.
Fashion Business Manual by Fashionary: A visual, step-by-step guide to launching and scaling a fashion label.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée A. Mauborgne: Instead of battling your competitors, the authors describe how to identify and tap whole new areas for growth.
Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar: As a creative, Rokh designer Rok Hwang says this book was “essential” for understanding how to build and manage his business.
Lead image by Sandra Semburg.
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BY Vogue Business
Jan 06, 2022
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Boutique Business Plans
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Do you dream of running a small, stylish store focused on a specific niche? One where you know your customers by name and understand your products and industry inside and out? Sounds like you should open up a boutique and to do that you’ll need a business plan. Check out our sample plans for a bridal shop, maternity clothing store, lingerie shop and other online and physical boutique retailers to get started on your own boutique business plan.
If you’re looking to develop a more modern business plan, we recommend you try LivePlan . It contains the same templates and information you see here, but with additional guidance to help you develop the perfect plan.
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