This post is about Business Plans in general, but because I have the most experience in the convenience industry, I’m going to focus on a plan for operating a 7-Eleven.
Before getting into any business, whether it’s 7-Eleven, or your own independent store, it is very important to have a business plan.
Don’t ignore this very important step, or treat it with that “checking the box”, mentality, because this is a tool to organize your thoughts, expectations, and goals – giving your research detailed focus and perhaps uncovering things you never realized as you research every aspect of your business.
Remember, that no matter if you’re doing this plan because the franchise requires it, for investors, or just for yourself, it is important to be as realistic as possible. If in doubt, error on the pessimistic side, because you’d rather be surprised by extra profit than by unexpected expenses.
So, you’re ready to get started, but feeling a bit intimidated … that’s normal. You know the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? — One bite at a time. ”
Its the same thing with this “elephant”, but before you eat it, it’s important to know what it looks like 🙂
Here you encounter your first options:
- Get a copy of a business plan for your type of business, and imitate their structure.
- Get a Business Plan writing software – it may or may not have your exact business options, but it’ll have something close. I’ve often utilized Business Plan Pro.
- Hire a professional business plan writer to do the work for you.
- Just wing it and freestyle.
The first option is a good way to go only if the structure of the plan you’re using is any good, so if you do go with this option, make sure you combine it with additional research on subjects or categories the plan might be missing.
I’m a big fan of the second option because the software is very affordable and acts as an excellent guide for putting a plan together. Not only do they offer a guideline, but depending on your business they might have specific plan examples inside.
I never liked the third option, and generally only suggest it to people who are unable to write a plan due to language barrier. Even then I encourage them to write the plan in their own language and then translate with the help of a friend.
Infact you should always remember the following:
- No one will ever put as much effort into your plan as you will, because it’s YOUR livelihood at stake
- By writing the plan yourself, you’re taking the first step to truly getting to know your business. Its hard to put a price on the knowledge that you will get while researching and figuring out answers to questions that arise.
Now regarding Option #4, please, do yourself a favor and don’t try it, or you will likely join the 90% of businesses that fail within the first 2 years.
So the best approach I’ve found is to combine options #1 & #2, put in the sweat equity, and take the first step to truly knowing your business.
The rest of this post is to give you a basic idea of what a Business Plan for 7-Eleven might look like, or what you might want to consider including. These basics are a good starting point, if you don’t have other references.
- Executive Summary – A one page summary of the plan, sort of like a wordy table of contents with a personal touch. Many applicants don’t include this page.
- Personal Introduction – Introduce yourself, discuss your history and your qualifications, be personable. If you have anything you want to brag about that will help your chances of getting the store, this is the place to do it.
- Store Selection – How did you find/choose this store, this is the time to talk about what you’ve learned about this location. (New construction near by? competition going out of business?
- Demographics/competition – You should be very familiar with the demographics as well as all of your competition within a mile radius, or more depending on store location.
- Staffing Plans – What are your plans on finding, training, and retaining staff. This is going to be the biggest challenge, so make sure you spend some time thinking about it and addressing it. You should also create tentative employee schedules for all seasons, as your store might have very different staffing needs throughout the year.
- Budget Forecasts – Follow the worksheet provided to forecast for all aspects of business operations.
- Personal Income Statement – You want to show that your income from 7-Eleven is more than enough to support your lifestyle, otherwise, you should not be getting into the franchise.
- Conclusion – Wrap it up, and tie it all into a short summary of why you’d be a good candidate.
- PICTURES – There’s nothing wrong with having 3-5 pictures throughout your plan. There’s no need to put one on every page, but a plan that is all text is dreadful to read, and comes off as dry and impersonal. Take insightful pictures that show your understanding of the business.
- Key words – Buzz words, terms, big corporate programs are very important to know about and mention in your plan. These are terms that a person from outside of 7-Eleven would not know or use, but by including them in your plan it shows that you’ve “done your homework”, gotten to know 7-Eleven and understand what the company is looking for. The best way to learn these words is by befriending existing franchisees, taking them out to lunch, and interviewing them.
I wish you luck with your plans and with your business.
In my years with 7-Eleven, I have read dozens of business plans and have been involved in the approval process of many franchisees. So if you are considering purchasing a 7-Eleven and would like unbiased answers to all of your questions as well as advice on specific store locations:
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE e-mail consultation.
If you are getting started on a business plan, I can offer you a variety of services such as:
- Providing copies of actual 7-Eleven Business Plans.
- Familiarizing you with buzz words, key terms, and corporate programs.
- Reviewing your plan and offering feedback to increase your chances of approval.