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Unformatted text preview: your business, this information is vital.
At Palo Alto Software, we frequently put a customer survey on two of our websites. People who
are browsing the Internet looking for materials and information on business plans can visit us at
www.PaloAlto.com or www.bplans.com.
One of those sites does no selling. Instead, it provides free information, including free downloadable
sample plans, outlines, and discussions, including answers to several hundred speciﬁc questions about
details of developing a business plan. We sometimes ask people stopping by our websites to answer a
few quick questions that concern us. The invitation promises just a few questions, and promises also
that we won’t ask their names or e-mail addresses, and we won’t follow up with sales information.
When we run one of these surveys we get about 300 responses a month, which provides us with
valuable information about the concerns people have as they consider writing a business plan.
If you have an ongoing business, the process of developing a plan should include talking to
customers. Take a step away from the routine, dial up some of your customers, and ask them about
your business. How are you doing? Why do they buy? How do they feel about your competitors? It is
a good idea to take a customer to lunch once a month, just to keep yourself in touch. Count Potential Customers
Most business plans contain an analysis of potential customers. We saw that in Chapter 3: Initial
Assessment. As an essential ﬁrst step, you should have a good idea of how many potential customers
there are. The way you ﬁnd that out depends on your type of business. For example, a retail shoe store
needs to know about individuals living in a local area, a graphic design ﬁrm needs to know about
local businesses, and a national catalog needs to know about households and companies in an entire
What constitutes good sources depends on what you need. Government and commercial statistics
are usually more than enough, but for some plans you may end up purchasing inf...
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- Winter '09