The Marketplace

Running a successful business requires knowledge of your industry, marketplace, and the people that are purchasing your goods and services as well as your competitors. To properly plan how your business will fit into this marketplace, do some research and find out who will be buying your products, who else is operating in this market, and what changes might be coming down the road that could change this pattern. Using data is a great way to back up this analysis and will help paint a picture for the reader. Consider working with one of the provincial business development organizations to help you obtain this information.

What factors will determine the demand for your product? How do contextual factors or trends shape your distribution?

Identify the other major businesses operating in your industry; of particular note, should be those that compete for the same markets.

Where does your business, and even that industry fit into a larger economy; are there trends within that industry that should be highlighted?

What are the notable trends in your industry; how might the industry be impacted directly by changes elsewhere in an economy?

List any government regulations that impact your business; this may include environmental, industry-specific, legislative, or financial-related regulation.

The Market

A successful business owner understands their product and the market they are a part of. Your business plan should include specific details about your product’s place in the market, what you specialize in, and how you might respond to shifts. Operating a business requires entrepreneurs to pay attention to what’s happening in the market and how they can shape their business to adapt or improve their position. Continuously innovating and looking for ways to get ahead of trends is a key way to remain competitive and satisfy customers.

Briefly describe the size and scale of the industry and where products are bound; Identify what share of the market segment you’re servicing.

Give a brief description of the products or services that your business provides and who the intended consumers are.

Give an overview of your businesses pricing; this could include specific prices, but could also be relative to other operators in the industry.

Provide a snapshot of your market, give some specific figures that demonstrate where your products and services are going, and any growth/decline that might be occurring.

Give an overview of the market considerations that might impact your business or contribute to the risk in an industry; this usually includes risks associated with access to market.

In the event of a change in market trends, what will you do to respond to ensure your business maintains its position and prospects of growth.


In many industries and geographies, co-operative businesses will face competition from other firms. These businesses competing for the same consumers need to connect with their market and get ahead of trends before their competitors to maintain their relevance. For co-ops operating in smaller markets that lack physically present competitors, it’s important to avoid complacency. Technological improvements make it increasingly easier for consumers to purchase products remotely. Sure, buying local is something many consumers consider, but competitive pricing and product offerings highly influence purchasing patterns.

Broadly, who are your competitors, how are you competing with them, and what gives your business an edge.

Give a description of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses; be specific and highlight how your business is different.

Describe your competitive advantage; what are the factors that set your business apart from your competitors.