Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How to start planning

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     Planning is difficult for some business owners. But planning is necessary. If you are in business, you have done some planning. You might have done it without being fully aware.

     Whether you are just starting out or you are currently running your business, you will do well to put yourself through the planning process. So, how do you begin?

     A business plan matches you with the market. Your plan gets the marketplace firmly in mind, and then you can offer your goods or services. When there's a match, you can begin to see how you can grow into your business future. 

     Questions: Is there truly a market for my goods or services? How big is that market? What part or parts of that market can I serve? What is the future of that market? Is it growing or contracting or stable? Can I put numbers to how much of that market I might capture? What's the impact of technology? What's the competition already in place?

     More questions: Is this market new, and, if so, is it likely to continue? Is it bricks-and-mortar based with a simple website presence? Can I reach out to expand via social media? Can the market be addressed entirely on the net? What's the best way for me to proceed?

     Many more questions will occur to you. Some will be related to the overall economy. Others will be related to the particular industry you are 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 box. I call this my idea box. About every 2 or 3 months, I go through everything.

     Using the questions and the idea box, my planning is accomplished. Of course, no bank will write a loan based on this. But this is the beginning. To get it organized and written down into a formal plan, you will need an outline. Contact your Small Business Development Center for help--it's free. Or, do a Google search for "Business plan" and you'll get many possibilities. 

     This is drawn from my personal experience. It has worked for me in starting and operating 4 small businesses. You'll find your own way.

     Planning in business is done all the time. You don't get far without a plan. Always remember, however, that the most important part of planning is the market. After all, you cannot sell anything unless there's a market for it.     

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