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Back-of-a-Napkin Business Plan Template from HOMEMADE FOR SALE


If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Some of the most innovative ideas or tastiest recipes never make it to our mouths because the people with them couldn’t get their ideas down on the drawing table or, worse yet, jumped into a business before thinking it all the way through. Please don’t let this happen to you.


Given that most cottage food businesses will have modest or humble beginnings, we’re recommending that you forget about writing a full-blown business plan with a vision statement, company description, product details, strategy…ad nauseum. At this point, you don’t need to impress a bank to get a loan to start your business. It’s too early to tell if your cookies are going to be a ten-thousand or a hundred-thousand-dollar hit.


If the time comes where you need and want to expand, you’ll have plenty of time, enthusiasm and determination then to pull together that business plan that would impress an MBA professor type, lure money from the deep pockets of bankers and convince the rest of your family you’re serious about turning your cottage food business into a big business, covered in the last section of Homemade for Sale.


But for now, let’s go with what we call the “back-of-a-napkin plan” that, if nothing else, makes sure you don’t forget the great ideas you’ve come up with to get your product to market. Plus, it might keep you on track. 


The Back-of-a-Napkin Business Plan Template


Below is a template for you to complete for your business based on the cottage food law in your state; copy the template and replace the sections that are highlighted and in brackets with your own products, target markets, etc.  The examples are provided just as a reference to a bakery business, Inn Serendipity FRESH BAKED, we hope to start once the State of Wisconsin actually wants to encourage entrepreneurship and pass the “cookie bill” in our state.  As it stands now, we can serve a dozen muffins to our B&B guests but we cannot sell them any to take home.


Back-of-a-napkin Business Plan for {fill in your company name}

-  Example:  Plan for Inn Serendipity FRESH BAKED


Products: {Describe the products you want to sell.}

-  Example: Biscotti, granola, organic muffins, bagels, granola bars


Sales Objective:  {How much to you want to earn, permitted by your state’s cottage food law?}

-  Example: $2,000, ramping up to Wisconsin’s cottage food law cap of $10,000 gross sales


Target Markets: {Who will be the most likely customers of your products, defined in terms of demographics and psychographics?}


•  Primary: {Who are your main customers?}

-  Example: Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast guests; direct on-farm sales


•  Secondary: {Who might also be interested in buying your products?}

-  Example: Attendees at various community events; direct-to-customer sales at a booth


Niche: {What segment of a broader market do you believe your product can sell well?}

-  Example:  Baked products made with organic and locally sourced ingredients, containing no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives


Positioning Statement: {Define exactly how your product might appeal to your customers in terms of their needs or desires and the benefits it provides.}

-  Example: Inn Serendipity FRESH BAKED offers discriminating "foodies" great-tasting, truly homemade, organic and locally baked goods that contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.  These premium-priced products are unlike any available in the Monroe, Wisconsin, area.


Sales Venues: {Where will you sell your products?}

-  Example:  On-site, plus some high-traffic, low competition community events during the low season, like Monroe Cheese Days and Monroe Gem and Rock Show


Start-up expenses:  {List your start-up expenses.}

-  Example:  $25 total, for cottage food license ($10) and required online food safety training course ($15). The equipment and business registrations (sales tax = $10); state license ($65) and registered office registration ($25), are already covered as a part of Inn Serendipity B&B.


Fixed expenses: {List your fixed expenses.}

-  Example:  $0, liability insurance covered by existing homeowner policy from Cincinnati Insurance Company as a part of the B&B; the B&B is listed as “incidental to the home” and comes with an annual premium of $69. Additionally, $1 million umbrella liability insurance policy is also taken, costing $165 per year. DSL Internet service ($34/month), domain name ($10/year) and website hosting ($120/year) already covered as a part of the business.


There are lots of additional details related to the above covered in Homemade for Sale.

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