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The Business Advisor

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:42 02 July 2010

Richard Salmon, business advisor at NWES. Photo: Angela Sharpe

Richard Salmon, business advisor at NWES. Photo: Angela Sharpe

Writing a business plan could help your company succeed, says Richard Salmon, business advisor at NWES.

The business advisor: Richard Salmon, business advisor at NWES

Why do I need to write a business plan?

Here's a thought. If you are in business or starting a business you should have a business plan. That is the plain and simple truth.

You need to have a 'road map' for your first year that can be referred to and ensures that you have thought through your idea fully.

If you are in business you need to take stock of the previous year and set some targets and aims for the coming one. So with that in mind what should be in your business plan?

Your first consideration is who you are writing the business plan for and why? If you are using it to take to your friendly bank manager - and yes, some are - then you may need to be more detailed in explaining your business.

If it is for your own purposes then you can concentrate on the timescale for achieving tasks and use it as a way to measure your achievements.

Your business plan should be a working document that allows you to measure your success and is updated as the business moves on.

It is no good thinking about great ways to market your business and attract customers if you have no idea what this will look like financially or if you have no timescale to achieve these marketing tasks.

As people start running their business they will generally become bogged down in the day-to-day tasks such as fulfilling orders or doing quotes.

Of course this is important but looking at your business strategically is also important. Look at your processes, how can you make the business run more smoothly?

The operational aspects of your business are just as important as going out and doing the work.

Business planning is an opportunity to order your thoughts, but also ensure that you seek out new ideas.

Market research can be a help with this. If you are starting in business then talk to your potential customers, and research your competitors.

Are you able to compete against them? Do they have any innovative ideas that you can use in your business?

If you are in business then speak to your existing customers. What changes would they make? What do they like? These should then be incorporated in the plan.

This has only scratched the surface.

Statistics show that those businesses with business plans are more likely to survive, so don't just take my word for it.

Try writing one, and seek advice on writing one. It could be the difference between success and failure.

About Ask the Experts

Are you running a business and need advice on a tricky issue? Or are you thinking of becoming your own boss but not sure if it's for you? Then the Evening News Panel of Experts is here to help.

The panel - all experts in their fields - can answer questions ranging from problems with tax returns and affordable IT to general business advice, the benefits of green practices and how to deal with the emotions of going it alone.

The panellists are Richard Salmon, business advisor at enterprise agency NWES, James Banham, partner at Banham Graham chartered accountants and business advisors, Anne Francis, west Norwich business coach at BizFizz, Zaour Israfilof of environmental consultancy 3 Carbon Elements and Leum Dunn, who runs his own IT company, Get IT Dunn.

Next week: Is now a good time to start a business? By James Banham.

Do you have a question for the panel? Email Evening News senior business writer Sam Williams at sam.williams@archant.co.uk.

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