By Lucy Fox, General Manager, UK Cloud Solutions at Exact

When you’re thinking about starting a business, any number of things will cross your mind. These could range from the practical, like finance and facilities, to the creative, like marketing or product design. When all of these ideas are going around in your head, that’s when it’s time to write a business plan.

Putting together a plan is the first thing any financial advisor will tell you to do. Given that recent research found that small enterprises with a business plan were 20% more likely to be profitable and twice as likely to achieve their goals, this seems like good advice.

Despite these benefits, over one third (34%) of small enterprises don’t have a business plan. Many of these claimed that they didn’t need one. While this might be the temptation, given how intimidating starting your own business can be, planning first really is the best thing to do.

A business plan will not only help you consolidate your ideas in one place, it will also help you plan how the ideas could become reality. It will force you to decide on your priorities then map out how to achieve them.

If you’re still unsure, there are people out there who can help. Accountants are not just there to file tax returns. They have valuable experience in business and finance, making them ideally placed to help you write a plan.

The help doesn’t stop there though. Meeting your accountant regularly will help to identify whether your ideas are on track. Whether your goal is to attract a certain number of customers, achieve a particular turnover or to raise more capital, a business plan will show you how close you are to reaching these goals.

As well as helping you achieve your goals, a business plan will help you define everything about your business. Laying out your company ethos, defining job roles and even being clear about company branding will ensure everyone in the company knows about the business and their responsibilities within it.

Whether you’re about to set up your first business, or you’re a serial entrepreneur, make sure you write a business plan. It will provide direction, and you can track how close you are to meeting your goals. And don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. Even better, have regular meetings with your financial advisor who will help you act quickly when challenges and opportunities arise. After all, it’s not worth doing a business plan if it sits in a drawer for months on end.

Trusted financial advisors, like accountants, are full of knowledge and experience which can not only help get that dream of running your own business off the ground – but help ensure that dream remains a reality long into the future.