By Jason Sullock, New Customer Marketing Manager, Sage

I don't think anyone would disagree when I say planning is essential to creating and starting up a successful new business. But if that's the case, why do so many people simply not do it?

It reminds me of those property programmes on TV. The ones where they bring in an expert to advise on the renovation and sale of a house for profit. You know what's going to happen don't you? The expert comes in, listens very carefully to the couple, and then gives them sound advice on what to do to maximise their profit and sale-ability.

Then the couple completely ignores the advice. They invest a huge amount of emotional energy and money into the house, basing their decisions on their own likes and dislikes. The budget gets stretched and then expands to cope. And when the refurbishment is finished, the house struggles on the market and is often sold for a loss or for minimal profit.

For me, there are two huge lessons in this, and I believe they apply to starting your own business as much as renovating a house.

Lesson one is simple...agree beforehand what your objectives are. In some ways, it really doesn't matter whether your objective is to 'make a regular wage', 'turnover £1m by year three', or to 'own a yacht in the Bahama's by the time your thirty', as long as you know what you're trying to do.

Whatever it is you decide is your main objective, you need to embed this right at the very heart of your plan, to ensure everything you do bears this in mind. If you know what you're aiming for, you can plan, and if you can plan, you know what you should and should not be doing with the budget.

The second lesson is equally as simple...if you're renovating a house to sell, you're not furnishing and decorating the house for your tastes, you are doing it to attract as many potential customers as possible. When you're planning, starting and running a new business, you've got to bear in mind what your potential customers want, not what you want to give them!

Sage Planning for Business software is available here

Sage World is a unique event for anyone looking to start or grow their business. It’s a place where you can see inspirational business speakers, seminars and live product demonstrations. Delivered by Sage UK at EventCity, Manchester on the 12th and 13th of October. Book your FREE place here www.sageworld2011.co.uk

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