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Planning can prove difficult for some business owners. But planning is necessary. If you are in business, you have done some planning. You probably did it without knowing it.
With business plans, the aim is to match your business to the market. This forces you to look at the market for your goods/services, define it as best you can, see if your business ideas measure up, and how you can grow into the future.
Questions: Is there truly a market for my goods/services? How big is this market (do some numbers here)? What part or parts of this market can I serve? What's the future of this market? What's the impact of technology on this market? What's the competition already in place?
More questions: Is this market mature? New? Developing? Is it moving to the Internet? Is it truly brick-and-mortar based--with a simple Internet presence? Or is it better for me to go entirely on the net?
There are many more questions that you will think of. Some of these will be related to the overall economy and others will be related to the particular industry you're in. I've found it useful to jot down questions/thoughts/ideas as they come to me. I throw these pieces of paper into a drawer and in 2 or 3 months, I go through everything.
Most ideas that seem important at the time will not seem so after a while. Discard them. Concentrate on those thoughts that continue to seem relevant. In a quiet place, come up with answers that make sense in your business.
Using the questions and the idea box can accomplish basic planning for you. Of course, you can't expect the bank to grant a loan based on what's largely still in your head--or the box. To get it written down on paper in standard business planning format, you need an outline. Go to your local Small Business Development Center for help--it's free. Or find a business plan outline through a Google search.
The questions and the box of ideas are first steps. These get you started. And unless there's a need to generate a formal business plan, these first steps can serve you well in developing your business and growing to the next level. It's worked for me.
Business planning is something you do all the time. You didn't get where you are without planning. And the most important part of planning is the market that's out there for your goods and services.