Are you thinking of setting up your own business? Running your own business can sound very romantic to the outsider- being your own boss, nobody telling you what you can and can’t do, lie-ins when you feel like it. But the reality can be far from this.

It can mean regular sleepless nights, working long hours in the office doing the accounts and the marketing and the customer care and anything else required to run a business, collecting monies owed and saying yes to every job coming in to make sure that the bills are paid. So are you still interested?

Over the coming months, I will offer a few words of advice to help you get started with your business, this month we will talk about the Business Plan.

Develop your Business Plan at the early stages of developing your business or ideally before you start at all. This is an essential piece of research, so please take the time to work on it. The Business Plan will help you get clarity about what you are doing and how you are going to do, it will help you identify your strengths and (equally as important) your weaknesses. It will help you set your business objectives and plan for contingency issues. Plus the Bank Manager likes to see one if you are applying for a loan! You will be surprised what your business plan will look like when you have it complete, as your thoughts and plans invariably look different when you put it on paper.

The Business Plan is not a static document to be shoved into the back of the filing cabinet once it is written up; the business environment is ever-changing and evolving and as the business evolves, your plan needs to be reviewed and updated regularly for it to be relevant.

If you are a complete novice or need some direction, you can get help with writing your Business Plan; the Local Enterprise Board offers Start Your Own Business Courses on a regular basis in your area for a very reasonable price. It is well worth attending one of their courses as they will guide you through the basics of starting and running a business, including marketing, finance and accounts. And plus you get to write your Business Plan during the programme.

If you are receiving a social welfare payment and want to start a business, there is help for you in the form of Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. Please be aware that terms and conditions apply so be sure to read the fine print before you embark on your business. The West Cork Development Partnership supports job seekers looking to set up a business, Kathryn Kingston is a great resource to people looking for advice.

Please take time to really explore what you want your business to do/be at the beginning and this is where your foundations are built.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin