I always admire people who are able to plan, even more so when they have researched all the facts before the planning stage and can confidently go forward with a good sound basis for believing that they will succeed.
At this stage in life I am unlikely to change my own method of crossed fingers and a confident smile but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the talent in others.
Planning and research are vital in business and knowing the facts and who is on hand to assist is essential if you are starting a business or just striving to improve your business base.
Moving a business forward can be one of the hardest things that you do but if you stand still you lose your edge and your profits and no one wants to do that.
One of the greatest advantages of our technological age is the access we have to information when we want to research before we leap into a new situation.
I admit that browsing the web can be time consuming and that you can easily get sidetracked into following links that lead you further away from your goal rather than closer to it.
There are, however, very good web sites that take you straight to the heart of your search and are genuinely helpful. Have you tried www.2wm.co.uk?
This site is not only an information bonanza, it is also a good way to find companies with similar interests who may be useful in your new project. Equally you may find someone who needs your expertise.
2wm is a site developed specifically for businesses in the West Midlands in partnership with Advantage West Midlands, BT, Coventry University and the European Commission. It provides links to business support, land and property searches, jobs, grants, news and events.
The site is very user friendly and indeed friendship is part of the concept, putting businesses in touch with each other and with business support agencies and universities. It gives you access to business grants and funding sources and there is help to find and train the people you need in your business.
As it can be sector specific you can tune in directly to your business needs without having to plough through general information hoping for a lead into your particular area. And the service is free of charge.
I found this site by accident when I was looking for something else and I spent a lot of time looking at it and getting more and more enthusiastic about what was on offer. Whether you are planning a change in your business or not it is well worth a browse.
I also tried to find similar sites for other regions and I couldn't, so I rather think this is the West Midlands leading the way again.
Do have a look and see how you feel about it and I wish you luck with your plans.
* Diane Rayner is an independent adviser on small businesses in the West Midlands