Starting a Business

The Market Analysis section of your business plan should illustrate your industry and market knowledge as well as any of your research findings and conclusions. This section is usually presented after the Company Description. 

What to Include in Your Market Analysis…

Industry Description and Outlook

Describe your industry, including its current size and historic growth rate as well as other trends and characteristics (e.g., life cycle stage, projected growth rate). Include the major customer groups within your industry.

Information About Your Target Market

Narrow your target market to a manageable size. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to too many target markets. Research and include the following information about your market: 

  • Distinguishing characteristics– What are the critical needs of your potential customers? Are those needs being met? What are the demographics of the group and where are they located? Are there any seasonal or cyclical purchasing trends that may impact your business?
  • Size of the primary target market– In addition to the size of your market, what data can you include about the annual purchases your market makes in your industry? What is the forecasted market growth for this group?
  • How much market share can you gain?– What is the market share percentage and number of customers you expect to obtain in a defined geographic area? Explain the logic behind your calculation.

Pricing and Gross Margin Targets

Define your pricing structure, gross margin levels, and any discount that you plan to use. When you include information about any of the market tests or research studies you have completed, be sure to focus only on the results of these tests. Any other details should be included in the appendix.

Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify your competition by product line or service and market segment. Assess the following characteristics of the competitive landscape:

  • Market share
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • How important is your target market to your competitors?
  • What is your window of opportunity to enter the market?
  • Are there any indirect or secondary competitors who may impact your success?
  • What barriers to market are there (e.g., changing technology, high investment cost, lack of quality personnel)? 

Regulatory Restrictions

Include any customer or governmental regulatory requirements affecting your business, and how you’ll comply. Also, cite any operational or cost impact the compliance process will have on your business.

Once you’ve completed this section, you can move on to the Organization & Management section of your business plan.

the U.S. Small Business Administration

About the Author


the U.S. Small Business Administration


The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The mission of the Small Business Administration is "to maintain and strengthen the nation's economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters". The agency's activities are summarized as the "3 Cs" of capital, contracts and counseling.