1. Elements of a Business Plan
2. What Is an Industry Analysis?
3. Conducting an Industry Analysis

An industry analysis and trends business plan is a component of a business plan that provides a comprehensive insight into industry conditions and trends that can impact a company's success and growth. A thorough analysis of your industry and its trends can give you and other people a clearer idea of the feasibility and relevance of your business idea or goals.

Elements of a Business Plan

There are many different types of business plans. When you are creating your business plan, the information you choose to include will depend on your audience and personal preferences, as well as the questions you wish to answer and problems you seek to solve. While business plans may vary greatly, most of them contain the following elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Analysis of business environment analysis
  • Industry analysis
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Management plan
  • Operations plan
  • Financial projections
  • Appendix

What Is an Industry Analysis?

An industry analysis enables you to gain a better understanding of the industry and market in which you will be conducting business. By conducting an industry analysis before you start writing your business plan, you will be able to:

  • Identify industry trends, such as potentially problematic aspects of the industry
  • Identify trends and opportunities in products and services
  • Calculate capital requirements
  • Determine business risks and find ways to reduce them

An industry analysis must be specific to the industry in which you are conducting or are planning to conduct business. With the information you obtain from the analysis, you can devise a long-term strategy to mitigate risks and take full advantage of growth opportunities.

It is important not to confuse an industry analysis with a competitor or market analysis. An industry analysis seeks to describe the products or services offered in a specific industry and the boundaries of the marketplace in relation to economic, political, and regulatory issues. In other words, it defines the scope of the marketplace. A market analysis, on the other hand, helps you determine whether or not a market within your industry will be profitable for your products or services.

Conducting an Industry Analysis

The most widely used method for evaluating any industry was devised by Michael E. Porter from Harvard University. This method can help you create an effective strategy for competing in your industry. According to Porter, all industries and markets are influenced by five forces, which include:

  • Ease of entry — Companies that are already operating in an industry will enjoy a competitive advantage over newcomers. However, their profits will be reduced unless they find a way to slow down or block the new entries. As for new businesses, they will face a variety of barriers, including government regulations, patents and copyrights, and customer loyalty.
  • Suppliers' power — Suppliers of materials, products, or services can have a significant impact on a business' ability to compete. In the event that there are few suppliers offering the products or materials or few alternative products, the suppliers have the power to dictate quantities, prices, and delivery times for companies that have no choice but to buy from them.
  • Buyers' power — In an industry where buyers can choose from many competing products, consumers will have strong bargaining power. This can affect the ability of a company to price its products or services without being afraid of losing customers.
  • Availability of alternative products — In the situation where two businesses with similar products are competing within an industry, both of them will benefit as their marketing efforts will generally increase demand for their products. However, their market share will be reduced if there is another company selling a different kind of products that can serve as a substitute for theirs.
  • Competitive rivalry — Competitive rivalry takes into account the number of competitors present in a particular industry, as well as their relative strength. In an industry where many companies are selling similar products, there is little opportunity for one company to control consumers' or suppliers' tendency to go elsewhere.

There are many free industry analysis tools and resources available to business owners who are preparing to create a business plan, such as:

  • BizStats
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • FreeLunch
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Hoover's Online
  • Thomas Register
  • Library of Congress Legislative Information
  • Websites of trade associations and companies

If you need help creating an industry analysis and trends business plan, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.