How to Create Your Pop-Up Business Plan

woman walking past a summer pop up shop

Pop & Zebra | unsplash

You’ve probably seen or even visited a pop-up shop before. These temporary stores have become increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. For starters, they offer retailers the ability to test how their product or service performs in real-time, directly in front of their target market. It’s also a cost-effective way for online retailers to see how their products would perform in a brick-and-mortar location before they lock themselves into hefty, long-term leases. And lastly, pop-up shops are a great way to engage with customers face-to-face and build brand awareness.

The spread of COVID-19 has made business difficult for brick-and-mortar businesses to make a profit. And as social distancing restrictions have lifted, many businesses have struggled to open their doors back up. The flexible pop-up shop format provides those businesses with a simple solution.

For example, Fredrik Lindfors, whose long-standing London fish shop closed due to COVID-19, decided to launch a pop-up seafood business through Appear Here, a real estate company that helps businesses find temporary storefronts. According to Appear Here’s founder, Ross Bailey, there was a 125% increase in available retail space from June to August 2020 in the US, the UK and France. With landlords losing more business than ever, Bailey was able to help fill the gap by offering a mutually beneficial solution to brands and landlords: Pop-up shops.

Business Planning Your Pop-Up Shop

If you’re considering a pop-up shop, understand it takes meticulous planning and preparation. Don’t be fooled by its enticing name — pop-up shops aren’t prefab, out-of-the-box retail solutions. They don’t come ready-made and they require careful consideration. Because of this, you should approach the launch of your pop-up shop like you would approach the launch of a startup — and it begins with a business plan.

Take a standard startup business plan template and use it as a guide to help you plan the perfect pop-up shop. Of course, there are certain elements of a traditional business plan that aren’t applicable to a pop-up shop, and that’s OK.

The point is to use the business plan format to guide you as you plan your shop’s launch. While a typical business plan might be used to gain long-term funding from banks, your pop-up business plan will be used as a tool and resource for your entire team (or to secure smaller, short-term loans). Ultimately, your business plan will keep you on track and guide you from milestone A to milestone B.

Like any major project, proper documentation is integral to successful project management. A business plan template consists of the following sections:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Company Details
  3. Market Analysis
  4. Customer Analysis
  5. Competitor Analysis
  6. Marketing Plan
  7. Operations & Logistics Plan
  8. Management Team
  9. Financial Plan
  10. Appendix

Using a business plan template as a foundation, we’ve created this resource to walk you through your pop-up shop setup. Here’s how you can get going:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an overview of your plan. It’s designed to get you, your team and your potential investors excited about your pop-up venture and should describe your business and its unique success factors.

A traditional executive summary would include a financial plan that highlights a 3-5 year financial forecast, but for your pop-up plan, include financial projections that cover the duration of your pop-up period. The financial plan section of your executive summary should take some of the following factors into consideration:

  • Cost of retail lease or applicable permits.
  • Fixed expenses (such as insurance, employee salaries, utilities).
  • Marketing.
  • Inventory.
  • In-shop entertainment.

Although this section of your plan will appear first, your executive summary should be written last, as it condenses the information you’ve put into other sections. For example, the Financial Plan section that appears later will outline what kind of space you need (store-within-a-store, gallery space, kiosk, etc). Once you know what kind of space you need, you can add it to your Executive Summary.

Executive summaries have one fundamental purpose: to provide a brief of your proposal. Antique jewelry company Catbird began the executive summary for their pop-up shop like this:

“We are proposing to open a pop-up shop selling Catbird Jewelry and Home products inside of a double-vendor space in Paris On Ponce Antique and Oddity Mall. We will be in the space for six weeks, however, we will only be open for four weeks. We will require the week before opening, and the week after closing, to prepare and clean the space.

We will fill our space with antique cabinets, couches, and furniture. There is also a coffee + tea bar in our space where customers can get self-serve tea and coffee while they shop and browse. We want our space to make our customers to themselves as a part of the brand when they are in the space.”

The summary goes on to explain the type of products that will be in the space, what makes the products and company unique, and why they are confident their pop-up shop will be successful. You can take a look at their full proposal here.

Related Article: Digital Bricks and Mortar: Augmenting the In-Store Customer Journey

Company Overview

The Company Overview section goes into detail about who your company is and what you do. Describe how your business originated, what your legal structure is, what its mission statement is, and what growth you have achieved thus far.

If your goal is to secure funding for your pop-up, emphasize what you’ve achieved up to this point. In this section, it’s very important to note your accomplishments, such as new product launches, store openings, or impressive sales growth over time. To summarize, your company overview should include:

  • A description of who your company is.
  • The company’s history (how it originated, what inspired its launch, etc).
  • Milestones achieved.
  • Company products or services you offer.

Market Analysis

The Market Analysis section describes how big your market is and hones in on the data and trends that support this. Since you’ll be occupying a physical space for a small period of time, your market analysis should focus exclusively on the “here and now.” For example, if you opened a pop-up shop in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, there’s no need to research what the demographics of that neighborhood would look like five years in the future. You can also send optimized surveys to your existing customers to better understand current customer sentiment.

This section consists of two sub sections: Market Overview and Relevant Market Size. Armed with a high-level overview of your market, you’ll be able to make educated guesses about the number of people willing to buy your product and the amount of money they are likely to spend.

Customer Analysis

Your Customer Analysis describes the characteristics of the people who are most likely to buy your p
roducts and the needs that those customers have. By now, chances are you already have information about your target customers, including their psychographic and demographic data. However, for this particular plan, you need to focus on target customers in a specific geographic area.

For example, if your company sells elaborately designed book covers, you might host your pop-up shop near a university. In this case, your target customer might be a 20-year old female college student who attends the university near your pop-up shop.

However, even if your ideal customer is clear, you need the research to back it up. For instance, you might say, “According to ABC University, 15,000 students are in attendance full-time. Furthermore, according to XYZ research firm, 55% of those students are women and, on average, come from upper-middle class families with higher disposable income.”

Lastly, describe how you meet your customers needs. Expounding upon the previous “Book Cover Company” example, if you have data that supports the idea that the majority of your target customers end up re-selling their college textbooks, then it’s safe to assume they want to keep their books in mint condition. Other reasons your pop-up shop might meet customer needs include:

  • Speed and convenience.
  • Price point.
  • Quality.
  • Customer service.
  • Ease of use.

Related Article: How to Choose the Right Sample for Your Customer Experience Projects

Competitor Analysis

This section compares your top competitors, their products, and their financial results. Here, describe your competitive environment (include both direct and indirect customers) and the competitive advantages you have.

Start by conducting a geographic audit of all the businesses around you. Determine which are direct and indirect competitors and how you can win their customers during your pop-up period. Many pop-up shops host events or create experiences to further engage with their customers; this heightened level of engagement can get you ahead of the competition.

For example, book publisher Penguin held a pop-up shop in London on International Women’s Day and offered female-authored books for sale. In addition to contributing to the conversation on gender equality, Penguin held writer workshops and hosted author appearances.

Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan outlines how you’ll promote your pop-up shop and lists your products and pricing. As a pop-up shop, your location will most likely be an integral part of your promotional plan. Naturally, you’ll want to rent a spot where a big chunk of your target market already exists. In addition to your location, you can market your pop-up shop by:

  • Asking to post flyers in local businesses.
  • Promoting across social channels.
  • Working with social media influencers.
  • Sending segmented email marketing campaigns to local customers.
  • Launching a viral social media marketing campaign.
  • Guerilla marketing in the pop-up area.
  • Partnering with other brands or organizations.

Operations & Logistics Plan

The Operations & Logistics Plan covers how you’ll get things done. Objectives, procedures, goals and timeline are all a part of your operations plan.

This part of your pop-up plan offers a walk-through of all your key processes, from the moment you start contacting vendors for temporary retail space to the moment you start taking your pop-up apart. This section also outlines the role that each member of your team plays on a daily basis throughout the duration of your pop-up shop. Here are a few things it should include:

  • Who will be on the team and what their daily tasks consist of.
  • Where your operations will take place.
  • Descriptions of tasks and goals and when they should be completed.
  • How much money you need to complete your goals and objectives.

Management Team

This is the fun part because this is where you get to talk about yourself and your team. Take the time to describe everyone involved in your pop-up project and what they bring to the table. Describe any notable achievements or skills that make that a valuable asset to the team and to the pop-up event specifically.

Financial Plan

Your lofty goals might not always make financial sense, and that’s where your financial plan comes into play. Your Financial Plan will detail all the implications of setting up and running your pop-up shop, and it’s a great way to help you understand whether your plan is feasible and what sales goals you need to achieve to be successful. It should include two key sub-sections:

  • Revenue model: How you plan to generate revenue (for example, through products, raffles, event ticket sales, etc).
  • Financial highlights: Your financial highlights should include a Projected Income Statement, Projected Balance Sheet and Projected Cash Flow Statement.

Here’s an example of financial projections for a pop-up shop from the aforementioned company, Catbird:

example of financial projections for a pop-up shop


The Appendix acts as a folder to hold all the relevant documentation you need to support the claims you’ve made throughout the business plan. This might include market research, client or vendor contracts, licenses, resumes and permits.


Pop-up shops can help your brand tap into additional value and revenue, and this is especially important for e-commerce brands who rarely get the opportunity to speak to their customers face-to-face. Ultimately, it’s a great opportunity to humanize your brand and take control of its public image. For inspiration, take a look at how other brands succeeded with their pop-up shop plans. You’ll notice that the common denominator is the ability to create an experience and not just sell a product. With the right plan in place, you’re on track to create an experience of your own.

Dave Lavinsky is an internationally renowned business plan consultant who specializes in capital raising and new venture development. He is the co-founder of Growthink, a firm that has helped over 1 million companies develop business plans to start and grow their companies.