Unformatted text preview: customer buys. Browse the store and look at prices. Look at several stores, including the discount shoe
stores and department store shoe departments.
Find a similar business in another place. If you are planning a local business, ﬁnd a similar
business far enough away that you won’t compete. For the shoe store example, you would identify
shoe stores in similar towns in other states. Call the owner, explain your purpose truthfully, and ask
about the business.
Scan local newspapers for people selling a similar business. Contact the broker and ask for as
much information as possible. If you are thinking of creating a shoe store and you ﬁnd one for sale,
you should consider yourself a prospective buyer. Maybe buying the existing store is the best thing.
Even if you don’t buy, the information you gain will be very valuable. Why is the owner selling? Is
there something wrong with the business? You can probably get detailed ﬁnancial information.
Always shop the competition. If you’re in the restaurant business, patronize your competition once
a month, rotating through different restaurants. If you own a shoe store, shop your competition once
a month, and visit different stores. HURDLE: THE BOOK 10.2 ON BUSINESS PLANNING Talk to Customers
If you’re considering starting a new business, talk to potential customers. In the shoe store example,
talk to people coming out of the stores. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your friends, talk to your
relatives. Ask them how often they buy shoes, what sizes, where, at what price, and whatever else you
can think of. If you’re starting a restaurant, landscape architecture business, butcher shop, bakery, or
whatever, talk to customers.
At most business schools, when they teach business planning, students have to do a market survey
as part of the plan. The plan isn’t complete unless they go out and ask a credible number of people
what they want, why, where they get it, how much they pay, and so forth. Although you may not go
through the formality of a customer survey for...
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