A business plan for a newspaper has two main objectives–to detail funding requirements and identify ongoing revenue streams, and to create a mission and design the processes through which that mission will be achieved. Overall, the business plan should encompass the fiscal responsibilities of the staff and direct the organizational strategies that will govern the paper.
Identify your target market. Decide what kind of newspaper you want to start and what audience you hope to reach. You'll want to approach investors and advertisers with a clear picture of the prospective audience. Your news strategy will be tailored to the demographics of the readers. Perform market research to look for areas of need, such as niche populations that aren't being served.
Research potential investors. Ad revenues will not start coming in until at least 30 days following your first issue, and profits will be at least a year away. You need to plan on securing a bank loan, finding an investor or relying on a chain to fund the start-up costs that include writers, editors, ad salespeople, printing and facility costs.
Include a sales forecast in your business plan based on ad costs, the number of salespeople you will employ and the target market whom you hope to reach. A cost analysis of salaries, operating expenses and printing costs should be covered in the sales forecast. Once a reasonable forecast has been reached, you can begin to set ad rates and prepare an overall budget. Research other area media companies to find out what the competition is charging, and set your rates appropriately.
Investigate available publishing software. Find desktop applications that you can run at home as you plan for the development of the paper. Many applications can be integrated with online resources that can match your needs with services such as the Associated Press and other news providers. Decide how much you want to rely on graphics so that your applications will be graphic friendly.
Predict your staff needs. Put advertising representatives at the top of the list of future employees. Ad salespeople will bring in the revenue to hire additional support and editorial staff. Plan to offer a generous commission to talented advertising sales reps who have contacts already. Decide at what point you will begin to bring on additional staff people as your advertising commitments grow.
Do as much of the initial work yourself. A hands-on publisher willing to work long hours can get a newspaper off the ground by soliciting ads through area contacts, utilizing freelance writers at reduced costs and learning how to layout the paper before sending it to a contract printer.
Print newspapers have been rapidly declining since 2000. Any newspaper business plan should include a strategy to include online content and revenue streams.