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Business planning is not difficult. You already do it. In business, planning is second nature.
Planning is all about clients and customers. No matter your business, your future depends on them. Today's clients and customers tell you where you are. Tomorrow's clients and customers tell you where your business is headed.
To simply the planning process, begin with your present clients and customers. They can point the way to your future.
Example: You are a chiropractor. Your clients are asking questions about massage and nutrition. Should you add other capabilities to your practice? Should you head to becoming a wellness center?
Example: You help me troubleshoot and repair my computer set-up and networks. Can you help me exploit the possibilities of social media, teach me how to use it, and point my business to wider appeal?
Example: You have a thriving yoga studio. Clients are asking if you can help them with losing weight. Should you add other regimens to your practice by partnering with other specialists?
Example: You operate a restaurant. More clients are asking for gluten-free preparations and vegetarian dishes. Should you change your menu offerings? And how about the current interest in farm-fresh?
Example: You are an attorney. You are getting calls asking if you can handle special problems--worker's comp, elder law, a business sale. Should you add a specialty or two? Or concentrate on one avenue?
Example: You operate a small print shop. You get a request to handle small mailings. You suddenly realize the potential of offering small direct mailings--completing the circle of one-stop printing/mailing jobs.
Your business planning begins with the marketplace and where it's headed. A starting point is to listen to your current clients and customers.
They will tell you all sorts of possibilities for future expansion. Your job is to sort through the suggestions and home in on what makes sense to you and your business future.
You can take the clues and re-structure your business. Always keep an eye on the bottom line numbers that a new direction will lead to. Also, is the new direction a passing fad in the marketplace? Or is it a more permanent change?
Never make a big change in your business without first doing a formal business plan. The plan is where you reduce the marketplace to real numbers. But small changes in direction don't require all the effort that goes into a formal business plan.