Regardless of whether you are a first time entrepreneur starting a new business or a seasoned entrepreneur seeking capital to leverage your existing business, any investor will require a business plan. Writing a business plan is incredibly daunting for most business owners, whether because of difficulty, lack of time or lack of expertise. As a result, many entrepreneurs turn to professional business plan writers and/or consulting firms to write their business plan for them.
When searching for a business plan writer or consulting firm, you will find there is a large variety in the types of services offered, the approach taken and the price quoted. Below are a few tips to consider when evaluating your options:
First and foremost, be cautious of any company that promises to write a business plan for you in less than week and only requires a limited amount of information from you. You should enter this process knowing that you, as the client, are the expert in your business and that you will be required to work side-by-side with your business plan service provider to ensure that your plan reflects your business and your goals. The service provider should have a sense of what type of collaborative or consultative process works best, but nonetheless, your involvement in the process is paramount.
Writing Quality and Previous Success
Before hiring a writer, you should request samples of previous business plans. Upon reviewing the sample, ensure that the writing is succinct and to the point (as this is what investors prefer) and that the document is free of any typos or major mistakes. Be sure to critically evaluate the executive summary and financial model as this is where investors will spend the majority of their time.
Furthermore, you should try to gauge your service provider’s track record. While the service provider likely will not have an exact percentage of success, they may be able to provide the amount of funding they have helped their clients secure or the number of businesses successfully launched. At minimum, they should be able to point to a few success stories that you can verify later on. You should also ask if the service provider has any testimonials available and potentially even references.
Price is Not Everything
As is the case with most service based businesses, you often get what you pay for. Nonetheless, you should certainly shop around your business plan to gain an understanding of the pricing options available, do not make the mistake of evaluating a business plan writer simply on the price they give. While you can likely assume that the cheapest option available will result in a lower quality product and service, the inverse is not necessarily true in that the most expensive option will result in the best product and service.
In any case, no matter how cash-strapped your company is in its pre-funding stage, you should not cut any corners on your business plan. A proper business plan will greatly increase your chances of raising capital and operating a successful business. Similarly, an inadequate business plan will stop you dead in your tracks. As a result, spending money on a business plan should not be seen as an expense, but rather an investment that you are making in your company’s future success.