Putting together a business plan for a milk & dairy products wholesaler can be daunting - especially if you're creating a business for the first time - but with this comprehensive guide, you'll have the necessary tools to do it confidently.
We will explore why writing one is so important in both starting up and growing an existing milk & dairy products wholesaler, as well as what should go into making an effective plan - from its structure to content - and what tools can be used to streamline the process and avoid errors.
Without further ado, let us begin!
Why write a business plan for a milk & dairy products wholesaler?
Having a clear understanding of why you want to write a business plan for your milk & dairy products wholesaler will make it simpler for you to grasp the rationale behind its structure and content. So before delving into the plan's actual details, let's take a moment to remind ourselves of the primary reasons why you'd want to create a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan.
To have a clear roadmap to grow the business
Running a small business is tough! Economic cycles bring growth and recessions, while the business landscape is ever-changing with new technologies, regulations, competitors, and consumer behaviours emerging constantly.
In such a dynamic context, operating a business without a clear roadmap is akin to driving blindfolded: it's risky, to say the least. That's why crafting a business plan for your milk & dairy products wholesaler is vital to establish a successful and sustainable venture.
To create an effective business plan, you'll need to assess your current position (if you're already in business) and define where you want the business to be in the next three to five years.
Once you have a clear destination for your milk & dairy products wholesaler, you'll have to:
- Identify the necessary resources (human, equipment, and capital) needed to reach your goals,
- Determine the pace at which the business needs to progress to meet its objectives as scheduled,
- Recognize and address the potential risks you may encounter along the way.
Engaging in this process regularly proves advantageous for both startups and established companies. It empowers you to make informed decisions about resource allocation, ensuring the long-term success of your business.
To get visibility on future cash flows
If your small milk & dairy products wholesaler runs out of cash: it's game over. That's why we often say "cash is king", and it's crucial to have a clear view of your milk & dairy products wholesaler's future cash flows.
So, how can you achieve this? It's simple - you need to have an up-to-date financial forecast.
The good news is that your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan already includes a financial forecast (which we'll discuss further in this guide). Your task is to ensure it stays current.
To accomplish this, it's essential to regularly compare your actual financial performance with what was planned in your financial forecast. Based on your business's current trajectory, you can make adjustments to the forecast.
By diligently monitoring your milk & dairy products wholesaler's financial health, you'll be able to spot potential financial issues, like unexpected cash shortfalls, early on and take corrective actions. Moreover, this practice will enable you to recognize and capitalize on growth opportunities, such as excess cash flow enabling you to expand to new locations.
To secure financing
A detailed business plan becomes a crucial tool when seeking financing from banks or investors for your milk & dairy products wholesaler.
Investing and lending to small businesses are very risky activities given how fragile they are. Therefore, financiers have to take extra precautions before putting their capital at risk.
At a minimum, financiers will want to ensure that you have a clear roadmap and a solid understanding of your future cash flows (like we just explained above). But they will also want to ensure that your business plan fits the risk/reward profile they seek.
This will off-course vary from bank to bank and investor to investor, but as a rule of thumb. Banks will want to see a conservative financial management style (low risk), and they will use the information in your business plan to assess your borrowing capacity — the level of debt they think your business can comfortably handle — and your ability to repay the loan. This evaluation will determine whether they'll provide credit to your milk & dairy products wholesaler and the terms of the agreement.
Whereas investors will carefully analyze your business plan to gauge the potential return on their investment. Their focus lies on evidence indicating your milk & dairy products wholesaler's potential for high growth, profitability, and consistent cash flow generation over time.
Now that you recognize the importance of creating a business plan for your milk & dairy products wholesaler, let's explore what information is required to create a compelling plan.
Information needed to create a business plan for a milk & dairy products wholesaler
Drafting a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan requires research so that you can project sales, investments and cost accurately in your financial forecast, and convince the reader that there is a viable commercial opportunity to be seized.
Below, we'll focus on three critical pieces of information you should gather before starting to write your plan.
Carrying out market research for a milk & dairy products wholesaler
Carrying out market research before writing a business plan for a milk & dairy products wholesaler is essential to ensure that the financial projections are accurate and realistic.
Market research helps you gain insight into your target customer base, competitors, pricing strategies and other key factors which can have an impact on the commercial success of your business.
In particular, it is useful in forecasting revenue as it provides valuable data regarding potential customers’ spending habits and preferences.
Your market research may reveal that customers may be looking for organic milk and dairy products. Additionally, customers could be interested in more convenient packaging options such as single-serving containers.
This information can then be used to create more accurate financial projections which will help investors make informed decisions about investing in your milk & dairy products wholesaler.
Developing the sales and marketing plan for a milk & dairy products wholesaler
Budgeting sales and marketing expenses is essential before creating a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan.
A comprehensive sales and marketing plan should provide an accurate projection of what actions need to be implemented to acquire and retain customers, how many people are needed to carry out these initiatives, and how much needs to be spent on promotions, advertising, and other aspects.
This helps ensure that the right amount of resources is allocated to these activities in order to hit the sales and growth objectives forecasted in your business plan.
The staffing and equipment needs of a milk & dairy products wholesaler
As you embark on starting or expanding your milk & dairy products wholesaler, having a clear plan for recruitment and capital expenditures (investment in equipment and real estate) is essential for ensuring your business's success.
Both the recruitment and investment plans must align with the timing and level of growth projected in your forecast, and they require appropriate funding.
A milk & dairy products wholesaler might incur staffing costs for employees such as dairy processors, delivery drivers, and warehouse staff. They may also need to purchase or rent equipment such as refrigerated delivery trucks, machines to process milk, packaging materials, and storage containers.
To create a realistic financial forecast, you also need to consider other operating expenses associated with the day-to-day running of your business, such as insurance and bookkeeping.
With all the necessary information at hand, you are ready to begin crafting your business plan and developing your financial forecast.
What goes into your milk & dairy products wholesaler's financial forecast?
The financial forecast of your milk & dairy products wholesaler will enable you to assess the profitability potential of your business in the coming years and how much capital is required to fund the actions planned in the business plan.
The four key outputs of a financial forecast for a milk & dairy products wholesaler are:
- The profit and loss (P&L) statement,
- The projected balance sheet,
- The cash flow forecast,
- And the sources and uses table.
Let's take a closer look at each of these.
The projected P&L statement
Your milk & dairy products wholesaler forecasted P&L statement enables the reader of your business plan to get an idea of how much revenue and profits your business is expected to make in the near future.
Ideally, your reader will want to see:
- Growth above the inflation level
- Expanding profit margins
- Positive net profit throughout the plan
Expectations for an established milk & dairy products wholesaler will of course be different than for a startup. Existing businesses which have reached their cruising altitude might have slower growth and higher margins than ventures just being started.
The forecasted balance sheet of your milk & dairy products wholesaler
The projected balance sheet of your milk & dairy products wholesaler will enable the reader of your business plan to assess the overall financial health of your business.
It shows three elements: assets, liabilities and equity:
- Assets: are productive resources owned by the business, such as equipment, cash, and accounts receivable (money owed by clients).
- Liabilities: are debts owed to creditors, lenders, and other entities, such as accounts payable (money owed to suppliers).
- Equity: includes the sums invested by the shareholders or business owners and the profits and losses accumulated by the business to date (which are called retained earnings). It is a proxy for the value of the owner's stake in the business.
Analysing your milk & dairy products wholesaler projected balance sheet provides an understanding of your milk & dairy products wholesaler's working capital structure, investment and financing policies.
In particular, the readers of your plan can compare the level of financial debt on the balance sheet to the equity value to measure the level of financial risk (equity doesn't need to be reimbursed, while financial debt must be repaid, making it riskier).
They can also use your balance sheet to assess your milk & dairy products wholesaler's liquidity and solvency:
- A liquidity analysis: focuses on whether or not your business has sufficient cash and short-term assets to cover its liabilities due in the next 12 months.
- A solvency analysis: takes and longer view to assess whether or not your business has the capacity to repay its debts over the medium-term.
The projected cash flow statement
A cash flow forecast for a milk & dairy products wholesaler shows how much cash the business is projected to generate or consume.
The cash flow statement is divided into 3 main areas:
- The operating cash flow shows how much cash is generated or consumed by the operations (running the business)
- The investing cash flow shows how much cash is being invested in capital expenditure (equipment, real estate, etc.)
- The financing cash flow shows how much cash is raised or distributed to investors and lenders
Looking at the cash flow forecast helps you to ensure that your business has enough cash to keep running, and can help you anticipate potential cash shortfalls.
It is also a best practice to include a monthly cash flow statement in the appendices of your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan so that the readers can view the impact of seasonality on your business cash position and generation.
The initial financing plan
The sources and uses table or initial financing plan is a key component of your business plan when starting a milk & dairy products wholesaler.
It shows where the capital needed to set up the business will come from (sources) and how it will be spent (uses).
This table helps size the investment required to set up the milk & dairy products wholesaler, and understand how risks will be distributed between the business owners, and the financiers.
The sources and uses table also highlights what the starting cash position will be. This is key for startups as the business needs to have sufficient funding to sustain operations until the break-even point is reached.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what will go into the financial forecast of your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan, let's have a look at the written part of the plan.
The written part of a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan
The written part of a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan plays a key role: it lays out the plan of action you intend to execute to seize the commercial opportunity you've identified on the market and provides the context needed for the reader to decide if they believe your plan to be achievable and your financial forecast to be realistic.
The written part of a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan is composed of 7 main sections:
- The executive summary
- The presentation of the company
- The products and services
- The market analysis
- The strategy
- The operations
- The financial plan
Let's go through the content of each section in more detail!
1. The executive summary
The executive summary, the first section of your milk & dairy products wholesaler's business plan, serves as an inviting snapshot of your entire plan, leaving readers eager to know more about your business.
To compose an effective executive summary, start with a concise introduction of your business, covering its name, concept, location, history, and unique aspects. Share insights about the services or products you intend to offer and your target customer base.
Subsequently, provide an overview of your milk & dairy products wholesaler's addressable market, highlighting current trends and potential growth opportunities.
Then, present a summary of critical financial figures, such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.
You should then include a summary of your key financial figures such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.
Lastly, address any funding needs in the "ask" section of your executive summary.
2. The presentation of the company
In your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan, the second section should focus on the structure and ownership, location, and management team of your company.
In the structure and ownership part, you'll provide an overview of the business's legal structure, details about the owners, and their respective investments and ownership shares. This clarity is crucial, especially if you're seeking financing, as it helps the reader understand which legal entity will receive the funds and who controls the business.
Moving on to the location part, you'll offer an overview of the company's premises and their surroundings. Explain why this particular location is of interest, highlighting factors like catchment area, accessibility, and nearby amenities.
When describing the location of your milk & dairy products wholesaler, you may want to emphasize the convenience of the location. You could discuss the access to transportation, whether by road or rail, that may be available to potential customers. You might also want to mention the potential for customers to be able to access the wholesaler easily, as well as the possibility of the surrounding area being populated enough to attract customers. Additionally, you could mention any potential advantages of the location, such as proximity to other related businesses, or an area that may be conducive to business growth.
Finally, you should introduce your management team. Describe each member's role, background, and experience.
Don't forget to emphasize any past successes achieved by the management team and how long they've been working together. Demonstrating their track record and teamwork will help potential lenders or investors gain confidence in their leadership and ability to execute the business plan.
3. The products and services section
The products and services section of your business plan should include a detailed description of the offerings that your company provides to its customers.
For example, your milk & dairy products wholesaler might offer a range of organic, pasteurized, and lactose-free products for customers with dietary restrictions. It could also provide a range of fresh and frozen dairy products for customers who require the highest quality ingredients for their restaurant or catering business. Finally, it could also offer convenient delivery services to keep customers' shelves stocked with the products they need. These products and services would help customers maintain a healthy and diverse selection of milk and dairy products.
When drafting this section, you should be precise about the categories of products or services you sell, the types of customers you are targeting and how customers can buy them.
4. The market analysis
When you present your market analysis in your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan, it's crucial to include detailed information about customers' demographics and segmentation, target market, competition, barriers to entry, and any relevant regulations.
The main objective of this section is to help the reader understand the size and attractiveness of the market while demonstrating your solid understanding of the industry.
Begin with the demographics and segmentation subsection, providing an overview of the addressable market for your milk & dairy products wholesaler, the key trends in the marketplace, and introducing different customer segments along with their preferences in terms of purchasing habits and budgets.
Next, focus on your target market, zooming in on the specific customer segments your milk & dairy products wholesaler aims to serve and explaining how your products and services fulfil their distinct needs.
For example, your target market might include restaurants. Restaurants require large quantities of milk and dairy products to keep their menus stocked. The wholesaler could provide discounted prices in exchange for larger orders. This would provide a valuable resource for restaurants that need a reliable source of milk and dairy products.
Then proceed to the competition subsection, where you introduce your main competitors and highlight what sets you apart from them.
Finally, conclude your market analysis with an overview of the key regulations applicable to your milk & dairy products wholesaler.
5. The strategy section
When crafting the strategy section of your business plan for your milk & dairy products wholesaler, it's important to cover several key aspects, including your competitive edge, pricing strategy, sales & marketing plan, milestones, and risks and mitigants.
In the competitive edge subsection, clearly explain what sets your company apart from competitors. This is particularly critical if you're a startup, as you'll be trying to establish your presence in the marketplace among entrenched players.
The pricing strategy subsection should demonstrate how you aim to maintain profitability while offering competitive prices to your customers.
For the sales & marketing plan, outline how you plan to reach and acquire new customers, as well as retain existing ones through loyalty programs or special offers.
In the milestones subsection, detail what your company has achieved thus far and outline your primary objectives for the coming years by including specific dates for expected progress. This ensures everyone involved has clear expectations.
Lastly, in the risks and mitigants subsection, list the main risks that could potentially impact the execution of your plan. Explain the measures you've taken to minimize these risks. This is vital for investors or lenders to feel confident in supporting your venture - try to proactively address any objection they might have.
Your milk & dairy products wholesaler could face risks related to the quality of their products. The milk and dairy products may contain contaminants or spoilage-causing bacteria, which could result in costly recalls and damage to the brand's reputation. Additionally, your wholesaler might face risks related to compliance with food safety regulations. They could be subject to fines and penalties if they fail to adhere to the regulations, or if their products are found to be unsafe for consumption.
6. The operations section
In your business plan, it's also essential to provide a detailed overview of the operations of your milk & dairy products wholesaler.
Start by covering your team, highlighting key roles and your recruitment plan to support the expected growth. Outline the qualifications and experience required for each role and your intended recruitment methods, whether through job boards, referrals, or headhunters.
Next, clearly state your milk & dairy products wholesaler's operating hours, allowing the reader to assess staffing levels adequately. Additionally, mention any plans for varying opening times during peak seasons and how you'll handle customer queries outside normal operating hours.
Then, shift your focus to the key assets and intellectual property (IP) necessary for your business. If you rely on licenses, trademarks, physical structures like equipment or property, or lease agreements, make sure to include them in this section.
You may have key assets such as delivery trucks and refrigerated storage facilities. These are essential for your business to transport and store your milk and dairy products. Additionally, your business might also have intellectual property such as branded packaging designs or a unique process for manufacturing dairy products. These can help your business stand out from competitors.
Lastly, include a list of suppliers you plan to work with, detailing their services and main commercial terms, such as price, payment terms, and contract duration. Investors are interested in understanding why you've chosen specific suppliers, which may be due to higher-quality products or established relationships from previous ventures.
7. The presentation of the financial plan
The financial plan section is where we will include the financial forecast we talked about earlier in this guide.
Now that you have a clear idea of the content of a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan, let's look at some of the tools you can use to create yours.
What tool should I use to write my milk & dairy products wholesaler's business plan?
In this section, we will be reviewing the two main options for writing a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan efficiently:
- Using specialized software,
- Outsourcing the drafting to the business plan writer.
Using an online business plan software for your milk & dairy products wholesaler's business plan
Using online business planning software is the most efficient and modern way to create a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan.
There are several advantages to using specialized software:
- You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
- You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
- You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
- You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
- You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
- You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
- You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
- You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck
If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here.
Hiring a business plan writer to write your milk & dairy products wholesaler's business plan
Outsourcing your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan to a business plan writer can also be a viable option.
Business plan writers are experienced in writing business plans and adept at creating financial forecasts without errors. Furthermore, hiring a consultant can save you time and allow you to focus on the day-to-day operations of your business.
However, hiring business plan writers is expensive as you are paying for the software used by the consultant, plus their time, and their profit margin of course.
From experience, you need to budget at least £1.5k ($2.0k) excluding tax for a complete business plan, more if you need to make changes after the initial version (which happens frequently after the initial meetings with lenders or investors).
You also need to be careful when seeking investment. Investors want their money to be used to grow the business, not spent on consulting fees. Therefore, the amount you spend on business plan writing services (and other consulting services such as legal services) needs to be negligible relative to the amount raised.
The other drawback is that you usually don't own the business plan itself: you just get the output, while the actual document is saved in the consultant's business plan software - which makes it difficult to maintain the document up to date without hiring the consultant on a retainer.
For these reasons, outsourcing the milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan to a business plan writer should be considered carefully, weighing both the advantages and disadvantages of hiring outside help.
Ultimately, it may be the right decision for some businesses, while others may find it beneficial to write their business plan using online software.
Why not create your milk & dairy products wholesaler's business plan using Word or Excel?
Using Microsoft Excel and Word (or their Google, Apple, or open-source equivalents) to write a milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan is not advisable. Allow me to explain the reasons.
Firstly, creating an accurate and error-free financial forecast on Excel or any spreadsheet demands technical expertise in accounting principles and financial modelling. Without a degree in finance and accounting and significant financial modelling experience, it's unlikely that the reader will fully trust your numbers.
Secondly, relying on spreadsheets is inefficient. While it may have been the go-to option in the past, technology has evolved, and software now performs such tasks much faster and more accurately.
The second reason is that it is inefficient. Building forecasts on spreadsheets was the only option in the early 2000s, nowadays technology has advanced and software can do it much faster and much more accurately.
And with the rise of AI, software is also becoming smarter at helping us detect mistakes in our forecasts and helping us analyse the numbers to make better decisions.
Moreover, software offers ease in comparing actuals versus forecasts and maintaining up-to-date forecasts for clear visibility on future cash flows, as we discussed earlier in this guide. Such tasks are cumbersome when using spreadsheets.
Now, let's address the written part of your milk & dairy products wholesaler business plan. While it may be less prone to errors, using software can significantly boost productivity. Word processors lack instructions and examples for each section of your business plan. They also won't automatically update your numbers when changes occur in your forecast, and they lack automated formatting capabilities.
In summary, while some entrepreneurs may consider Word or Excel for their business plan, it's far from the best or most efficient solution when compared to specialized software.
- Having an up-to-date business plan is key to maintaining visibility on your future cash flows.
- A business plan has 2 parts: a financial forecast highlighting the expected growth, profitability and cash generation of the business; and a written part which provides the context needed to interpret and assess the quality of the forecast.
- Using business plan software is the modern way of writing and maintaining business plans.
We hope that this guide helped you to better understand how to write the business plan for a milk & dairy products wholesaler. If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
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