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How to Define and Address Market Shifts in Your Business Plan

Every business faces a business environment in flux — the result of a changing population, technological advancements, economic upheaval, and other changes that transform the marketplace. If the population you serve is growing in size and consuming more products or services like the ones you sell, your business plan can include approaches for seizing growth opportunity.

If your market is shrinking or customers are buying less often or differently, your business plan needs to address how you’ll overcome growth challenges. To assess how your market area — and particularly the segment of the population you serve within your market area — is growing or changing, take these steps:

If your business serves one or several geographic market areas, compile marketplace data using these resources:

  1. Go to Fedstats and click on any state, county, city, or congressional district for population, resident, and business characteristics for the US communities you serve.

  2. Visit Zipskinny for quick access to US Census data on specific zip code areas.

  3. Obtain population statistics and trends from the websites for your state’s economic development department, regional business development offices, local chamber of commerce, nearest small business development center, and the advertising departments of media outlets that serve your market area.

    Study how market area population has changed over recent years — both in your overall market area and in demographic groups within your market — to gain a sense of the growth trend that will affect your business future.

If your business serves customers with similar interests anywhere in the world, compile market information using these resources:

  1. Obtain information on the dynamics and trends of your market from websites for associations that serve your industry or business arena.

    To find associations, search online by entering a word that describes the focus of your business, plus the word association.

  2. Search online for available research studies in your business arena.

    For example, if you search for “golf industry statistics,” results will include studies of the golf market size, composition, and growth trends.

  3. Study statistics compiled by publications that serve your industry.

    Most publications post online versions of their media kits, which provide trends and forecasts of how the market is growing or changing.

In your business plan, summarize the extent to which your market area and target-customer group are growing or shrinking. Then describe the steps you’ll take to capitalize on market growth or, if the market you serve is shrinking, how you plan to maintain sales momentum by defining and targeting alternate market areas or customer segments.

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