Snake oil refers to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. By extension, a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself or herself a fraud, quack, charlatan, and the like [via Wikipedia]
Indulge me. Query “Hire a Business Plan Writer” into your favorite search engine. As a first-time entrepreneur, do the ads for most business plan services sound like this:
As a seasoned entrepreneur, inundated with service provider and consultant guarantees of success, perhaps these ads sound more like this:
Ok, alright…So, I took some liberties with those examples (and the character limits for an AdWords ad).
Whether you are about to begin your first business or starting another, understand the purpose of a business plan and establish criteria to hire a business plan writer.
The Purpose of the Business Plan
The first thing to know about hiring the right business plan writer and consultant is to understand the purpose of the business plan itself. The business plan is not a single-use document or a hurdle that you overcome and never look back. The business plan is not a glossy, collated presentation solely designed to attract investment. The business plan is a tool that helps you through the business planning process. It is a living document that needs to be updated regularly for as long as you are still in business. The business plan will help reveal the major milestones that you need to accomplish. It will provide your strategy for achieving these milestones and will act like a roadmap. It will also include the key outcomes when these milestones are achieved including sales projections, expenses and cash flow.
Criteria to Hire a Business Plan Writer
Now that we understand the purpose of the business plan, we can begin discussing how to hire the right business plan writer and consultant.
- It is important that your business plan writer understands your goals and the resources that you have available to you. If the professional does not attempt to take a holistic approach by enrolling in the professional and personal side of the equation then he/she is likely not the right individual.
- It is important that your business plan writer has the experience and expertise to take you through the business planning process. Hiring someone, or a machine, to simply write a document for you will not end in a good result. Hiring someone that has been through the startup process, that understands what works and what doesn’t, and has raised capital in the past will be vital to the success of your business and business plan.
- Be wary of consultants that claim to bring on investors. While the business plan is an important tool in the capital raising process, investors are ultimately making their investment decision based on the team, the product, the market opportunity, the competition, etc. thereby making it difficult for any third-party to make such a claim.
- Do your due diligence to steer clear from the quacks, frauds, and charlatans. Ask to see sample work and testimonials. Ask the consultant how many companies they have worked with and how much capital they have helped raise. If you still are not fully convinced, ask to speak with past clients.
How The Startup Garage Can Help
Whether you have a question about writing a business plan or you would like to discuss our business plan writing services and previous client work, do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
The only snake oil I recommend is sold by Steve Earle and can be purchased on iTunes