An industry size business plan is necessary for budgeting and marketing, especially for those who will seek third-party financing. Most venture capitalists want to know the potential size of the market for the businesses they're investing in. Ultimately, the size of the potential market for the products or services your business is offering determines the value of your business, and to most venture capitalists, the larger that market, the better.

TAM, or Total Available Market, refers to the maximum size of the market for a business's offerings, and it may include both people and revenue. SAM, or Served Available Market, refers to the segment of the TAM consisting of people who will be able to use the business's solution. The SAM will be the business's target market.

Market Size Presentation

The section of your business plan pertaining to market size can be presented in any number of ways. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a simple columnar format that outlines the TAM and SAM now and in five years. This will allow the investor to quickly determine the potential size of the market and its growth over the course of your business plan.

While sizing of the market is important, it is only a plan. The market size section of your business plan can only provide an educated guess at how large the available market will be. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your plans for a successful launch and continued growth.

Available Data and Statistics

Market sizing is largely based on trade association data and any other available statistics. Begin with verifiable base data, including government statistics when available. Cross-reference your information with alternative sources whenever possible. Make sure that your findings make sense.

You should also be specific. For example, you wouldn't want to say, "There are millions of properties in the world with pools, and if we take a small percentage of that, our business plan will work." Rather, keep the industry definition very narrow.

Your analysis will differ depending on whether or not you're dealing with a pre-existing market or a new market. If you're dealing with an existing product, there will be industry and market data available to you. If you're dealing with a new product, you may need to conduct market research, consult with potential customers, and go from there.

Determining Your Market Size

Determining your market size will help you make a clear distinction between two categories:

  • Addressable market - the total revenue opportunity for your product or service
  • Available market - the portion of the addressable market you can realistically compete with

If you don't have a firm grip on your market size, you'll put your business's success at risk, both in these early stages and through its life cycle.

Estimating Your Market Size

Market sizing will allow you to gain a sense of current market trends. It can help you uncover the drivers of demand, since movements or changes in the market tend to continue for a period of time. Furthermore, studying these trends can reveal whether there's another product on the way that could potentially affect your market size.

When estimating market size, the best place to start is to consider the problem you intend to solve and how much value your product or service will have to consumers. This is actually something many entrepreneurs tend to overlook because they become engrossed in the product they've developed and not its benefits to the audience.

To estimate your market size, follow these steps:

  1. Clearly define the customer you're targeting.
  2. Estimate how many customers you will be targeting.
  3. Figure out your penetration rate.
  4. Calculate both the volume and the value to your potential market size.
  5. Apply the data.

Determining Your Market Potential

It doesn't matter if you're seeking third-party financing or not. Understanding the potential for your market will help you in the following areas:

  • Product development
  • Organizational design
  • Distribution
  • Partnerships
  • Employee skills

Beyond this, understanding your market potential will help you address more mundane issues, such as selecting a bank, hiring an account, or seeking legal counsel.

If you need help with your industry size 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.