Writing a Business Plan: Do It Yourself or Hire Someone?

If you are interested in starting your own business you should carefully consider writing a business plan. This is a vital step in starting a successful business; it is a roadmap outlining how you plan to maintain and grow your business. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 90% of businesses fail in the first 4 years. Even if you do not need funding to start your business you should write a plan for yourself. This will allow you to see if your ideas are realistic and if a profit can be made.

Preparing a business plan can be an especially complex, nerve-racking, and time consuming process. Whether you are planning to write this yourself or hire someone, there are several things you need to know. Learning what components are involved in a business plan and where to find help will make this process less stressful and quite a bit easier.

Writing a Business Plan Yourself

While no two plans are exactly alike, the following are the necessary components all plans need:

Company Overview: This is your mission and the vision you have for your business, company values, the products and/or services you plan to offer, and how the company is organized. Further detail on the company’s unique qualifications it has in serving its target audience should be included as well.

Industry Analysis: This is where you evaluate your company’s competition; can you compete? How big is the target market? What is the economic situation for your targeted customer’s? What are the prospective industry’s trends? Is the industry thriving? All of these questions need to be answered which requires a lot of research.

Customer Needs: What are your targeted customer’s needs? This is one of the most important aspects of business success. Meeting customer needs is the only way a business can succeed; making it exceedingly important to entirely understand potential customers lives.

Marketing and Sales Strategy: A marketing and sales strategy is a particularly important part of this plan. This section should be easier to write after completing the industry analysis. Knowing all about your intended customers should make coming up with a marketing plan easier. This section should include marketing and PR techniques you intend to use, as well as things such as cold calling, website advertising, etc.

Financial Review: This should be written at the very end of your plan and is key in determining whether your business idea is feasible. A financial review basically begins with a sales forecast; followed by an expense budget and a cash flow statement.

If you believe you can write a business plan yourself, there are many companies that offer free resources to help you through each step. In addition, you should by all means consult with an attorney and an accountant when preparing to start a business. Unexpected legal issues may arise that could potentially put you out of business very quickly.

If you are not confident that you can write a plan yourself, then you may need to hire either a consulting firm or a professional plan writer. There is a very big difference in what each will do for you; making it of extreme importance to understand the difference.

Consulting Firms

Business plan consultants have access to statics and databases; meaning they can offer financial consulting and valuable feedback and recommendations on the industry you have chosen. They are extremely qualified in all aspects of business and business planning. A business plan consulting firm will do the research and then help you to plan your strategy.

Professional Business Plan Writers

If you have done all the appropriate research concerning all aspects of the industry in which you intend to enter, costs, competition, and potential customers, then a business plan writer is what you need. A business plan writer will use your vision and research to write a business plan using convincing language and the correct structure.

The Three Main Elements Of Business Planning

Every day, millions of businesses spring up, both online and offline. These businesses run the gamut of categories, from spas to sneaker stores, accounting firms and accessory websites. Business planning is the first step in creating a secure future for your company.

Creating a Plan For Your Business

Writing a plan is the first stage of business planning. As the name suggests, a business plan is a roadmap for the direction of your company. While many owners fail to write such a plan, it is an essential step in the growth of your company. It helps you to forecast and problems that may develop in the course of business. Think of it as a contingency plan. If you are planning to apply for commercial real estate or bank loans, you will need to demonstrate proper planning for your business.

A business plan contains several main elements. First, it lays out the mission and the goal of the business. The plan will spell out whether your company is in business to serve a greater good or simply to fulfill an unmet need. Determine whether your business will serve other businesses or supply products to consumers. These are all important elements that should be included.

It does not have to be long or overly complicated. It simply has to have the elements required to put your goals into action. Developing a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) will help you to identify problems before they start. Craft your own or hire a business writer to create a dynamic plan that will guide your operations. An effective plan is one of the most important elements over overall business forecasting.

Creating a Marketing Plan

Similar to a business plan, the marketing plan spells out how you will market to new customers and retain current ones. The marketing plan should identify your target customers and develop a strategy to reach them effectively. Your marketing plan usually includes market research that gives you a profile of the ideal customer. As with your other plan, it is important to identify any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that may affect your company’s operations.

Your marketing efforts do not have to be expensive. In many cases, companies that don’t have marketing plans spend more than is necessary to reach their customers. With a plan that will spell out the ways you will market your company, you will save money and energy on your business marketing efforts. Creating an effective marketing plan is one of the most crucial elements of planning for your business.

Succession Planning

Unless you plan to run your business for your entire life, you will need a plan of succession. If you are the only person who can run and operate your company, it is doomed to fail when you can no longer run it. Create a plan that will spell out what steps will be taken to either sell your company or hand it over to another manager. Develop a system that allows your business to be run without you. An operations manual that details the key components of running your company is the first step in succession planning. Consult an attorney about the legal aspects of either selling or transferring ownership of your company.

Planning is an important element of any successful company. By adequately planning for the direction of your business, you will enjoy business profit and success.

Why Hire Business Plan Writing and Editing Services?

There can be many ways to approach the writing and editing of a business plan. We will discuss some of the basics about the structure and content of a good plan. One of the keys to creating a great plan that meets the needs of investors, banks, and even grant providers, is to make sure that you understand your business well, whether it’s a start-up company or one that has been in operation for many years. Professional business plan consultants help owners, directors and founders to develop a better understanding of their business in order to assist in providing answers to questions that will create a solid business and financial plan for any purpose.

Business Plan Templates and Outlines

Most experienced business owners strongly recommend hiring a professional plan writing company to create a business plan. They have learned a lot in all their years in business and know that it is important to hire experts in their fields. Companies that are reputable and have been creating plans for many years are the best options. Often, when someone attempts to create their own plan, it can take months to complete if it even gets completed at all! Professionals know how to move through a plan template or outline and fill it in with pertinent and well-written information.

So, what are the key sections of a great plan document? Well, there are many opinions to this as well as ways to approach it, but there are definitely some key ‘ingredients’ to a solid plan. A great plan features all the typical main sections, but also has many refinements not found in the average plan. The main sections recommended include a clean, well-designed cover page, table of contents, cover letter, executive summary, business overview, sales and marketing section, operations section, HR section, action plan and financial section with tables for – at the very minimum – expenses, revenue, and cash flow projections. Within these sections, a professional writer creates many headings and lots of writing that describes every aspect of the business in very good detail. On average, most business plans end up being about 25 to 35 pages in length.

Plan Creation Process

Typically, the process for creating a business plan goes like this: The client discusses their business with the writer and pays a deposit. The writer starts immediately on the business plan by creating an initial layout and inputting all the known information. This is followed by compiling a list of basic questions for the client to answer in point-form related to the details of the business. These questions are usually easy to answer within a day or two because clients already know the basics about their business. The writer then receives the answers and uses the information to create sentences and paragraphs and fill in the plan’s content. Once the written parts are done, the writer will work with the business owner and a financial expert on the financial tables that will go at the end of the plan.

Timelines

Timelines vary greatly for creating a plan depending on the writer’s experience, the business type, the detail required, and how much industry and market research is necessary. There may also be other factors. In most cases, however, a detailed plan can be created within 2-3 weeks.

Plan Costs

Business plan writers and companies charge very different amounts for their services, ranging from as little as $500 to as much as $5000 or more. A good pricing model is based on the factors mentioned earlier, such as length, complexity, research required, etc. Generally, $500 is not enough for a plan because of the many hours that go into creating one, and $5000 is way too much for clients to pay. That being said, a good, well-written and professional document of about 30 pages in length should be more in the range of $900 to $1500. This pricing structure is very reasonable considering that most of the work can take more than 50 hours to complete. In terms of an hourly rate, most professionals charge between $25 to $35 per hour.