Apologies if I have used too much jargon or have been overly technical in the last few articles on business planning. Sadly, the production of a business plan requires just that level of focus. If you feel overwhelmed, all is not lost as you can get help and advice.
Typically, you can get advice from a number of sources:
1. Family and friends;
2. Current work colleagues;
3. Suppliers, potential customers and competitors;
4. Existing experienced business owners and support agencies;
5. Professionals, such as accountants, solicitors or other experts.
If you’re smart, you’ll be tapping into the first three groups intuitively. You must work to access the last two sources effectively, but, if you plan well, you can do this at relatively little cost through networking and using current supports available.
Existing experienced business owners and professionals can be accessed if you network in their circles smartly and effectively. You can join various networks and be selective in how you target people. I’ll cover this in a later article, specifically on networking. One of the main reasons start-ups can sometimes fail is isolation. Promoters get so consumed by the day-to-day that they don’t allow themselves time to think, to reflect and consider what the next steps are. Networking allows you to benefit from the experiences of other start-ups in a safe environment. What you’re trying to do is tap into existing expertise, get advice and feedback for free and learn from their experiences and mistakes.
Enterprise Boards support start-ups employing less than ten people and offer free advice, even if your business does not qualify for financial support. They can also offer you a 1:1 advisor as a mentor to help you develop your business plan and/or apply for funding from the board in some cases. Mentoring is carried out in the context of an on-going, supportive relationship between the mentor and promoter. The mentor works in an advisory/facilitative manner but is not ‘hands-on’ and is able to do this on the basis of his/her experience. In any event, for a fraction of the cost you can avail of experienced professional advice to get you started. The important thing is not to give up because you feel you lack the specific skill-set to complete some aspects of your business plan or hit a roadblock at any stage of growing your business.