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By the time you decide to draft a business plan, the planning process has probably been going on for quite some time, at least in your head. Many portions of the plan will be derived from the analysis you performed as you thought about your idea. Nevertheless, assembling the written plan is more than an exercise in translating your thoughts to a printed page. You'll also have to gather together and organize a lot of specific information relating to your business and to the market you hope to reach. There are many potential sources for that information.
- Business records, the variety of documents and records generated in the ordinary course of your operations, are the first source of information for an ongoing business.
- Analysis of your present situation will generate much of the data that you need, if your business has been established for a while. For startups, you'll need to look at your current personal financial situation.
- Marketing data for your industry and your products or services can be collected or obtained from a number of sources.
- A SWOT analysis can help to organize your thoughts and assess where your business stands in the market in which you want to compete.