Looking to grow your business?

At the heart of every business venture lies a business plan. Whether written initially on the back of a flyer in a pub, or beautifully conceived in a 200 page document, the business plan is the heart of your proposition. It explains what your business is and where it's going. It explains how it's going to get there, what resources it will use and need to do so, where its market is, who its customers are, where the market is developing and why, ultimately, it is poised to succeed and maintain competitive advantage over other incumbents in the industry.

It needs to be personal, detailed, regularly reviewed and held dear by every stakeholder within the business. For small and medium businesses (or SMEs) this is relatively easy; with a smaller workforce and greater involvement, the ownership, engagement and passion to succeed tends to be strong and enduring. However, this is the good news. The other side of the coin is that many SMEs struggle to develop a viable business plan, particularly in a struggling economy and find that their plan isn't quite right.

So how do you avoid ending up in this situation? You take action and seek out business plan advice from experts. Don't worry about paying sky high consultancy fees and commercial prices for this help either, as the government is committed to developing small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises and has sunk good sums of funding into various regional bodies and delivery services, ready for you to access.

Do a search to see what's available in your area. Look for providers with government sponsorship logos and partnerships with large bodies and commercial links too. Many large corporates are now investing in small business growth programmes as they realise their customers are the very small businesses that need help and they can build loyalty by investing in these SMEs (and marketing through good solid corporate social responsibility programmes!).

Make contact, register and get in touch with your new business advisor. Explain that you need business plan help and request to be put onto a business coaching or mentoring scheme. This will benefit you as you learn from a hands-on, enthusiastic and hugely experienced business person with years in the industry and a passion for helping younger businesses grow. Learn from them, let your ideas develop, seek advice on realising these ideas, keep researching and keep reporting back to your mentor via the structured sessions. They will ask the right questions and coach you towards achieving strong outcomes based on facts, knowledge and research, so use their advice and experience, as well as that of your business advisor, who can also put you in touch with a raft of other sponsored services such as subsidised training, apprenticeship programmes, low cost recruitment and alternative finance.

Also, share your business plan verbally and begin to perfect your pitch by attending events and conferences in your industry - this is a powerful step that will begin to spread your message and win you business!