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Should You Hire Someone To Write Your Business Plan?

I co-own a startup company recently founded between myself and a partner.  Neither of us have the core skills to write a clear and coherent business plan.  However, we have very forward vision, goals, built-up clients and community, a strong advisory panel and all around great prospects.  What would you advise we do, if not hire someone to write the business plan and do the projections? 

I put this question in the “check your assumptions category.”  I have yet to meet any entrepreneur that doesn’t “have the core skills to write a clear and coherent business plan.”  There are a wide range of “business plan writing” products – including many free or inexpensive web resources or non-profit organizations such as SCORE that provide resources for small business owners.

Writing a good business plan is hard.  At one point, it was an entry point for discussion with most funding sources (angels and VCs).  Today, while a formal business plan is less critical to get in the door, the exercise of writing a business plan is incredibly useful.  As an entrepreneur, I was involved in writing numerous business plans.  It’s almost always tedious, time consuming, and difficult but resulted in me having a much better understanding of the business I was trying to create. 

Today, there are an amazing number of examples of business plans available on the web – both for successful and failed businesses.  Using someone else’s plan as a guide is always a great place to start. In addition, there are plenty of great books – such as Business Plans that Work – that can help you with the process.

Now – I’m separating the actual text of the business plan from the financial projections.  While your financial model is also important, it does require some specialized knowledge to put together in a logical way.  You can learn some of this from resources on the web, including some of the business plan builder software products such as Palo Alto Business Plan Pro 2007or Nova Business Plan Writer Deluxe 2006.  Alternatively, you can seek out a local accounting resource that has experience working with entrepreneurs to create financial models.

While ultimately you can just hire someone to do this, I’d still suggest you check your assumptions.  I bet one of your advisors has one or more sample plans you can look at and would be willing to work with you to help you create a plan for your business.

February 25th, 2007 by     Categories: Business Plan    
  • http://www.mobatalk.com Jeff

    Thanks for this. I am going to try your suggestions this week.

  • http://www.Gadish.com David Gadish, Ph.D.

    For more information about business plans for organizations in the Los Angeles area, please contact us at 310-433-0694, or visit http://www.Gadish.com for more information. Thanks.

  • Barak

    I paid $5000 for someone to write a business plan for me. We worked closely together writing it. Now I realize I could have written it myself and used the $5000 for better purposes.

    • Shakeel

      You are right, but to a certain extent ONLY. While closely working on the plan, most entrepreneurs learn a lot about planning and financials. After knowing the skills, it seems that it was not difficult. In fact, it is not difficult second time – first time most people even do not know that assets equals liabilities in the business world.

  • http://www.dotnetnuke.com Joe Brinkman

    My partners and I just finished writing a business plan for our new startup. While the bulk of the writing itself was all handled by a single partner, we all spent a lot of time working through each aspect of the plan to make sure we were all on the same page. We found that the process helped solidify in our minds many of the ideas that we had been discussing and allowed us to throw out some parts of the plan that ultimately just didn’t fit. Even if our plans change, which I realize is highly likely, at least we all have a complete picture of the elephant that is our business.

  • http://www.burnertrouble.com Martin Edic

    Read the Kawasaki book Art of the Start for a his take on this (should be required for any start-up seeking VC money). He believes and my experience agrees that the only people who should write the plan are the founders. Yes, it’s hard, but working through the process will show you where your vision and assumptions may be flawed which is incredibly valuable knowledge at this stage.
    When you hire someone to write a plan they are disincentivized to offer any criticism (you’re a paying client).
    I have written many plans for others and I suspect most were happily accepted and then filed away. When you write your own, it helps you organize your business thinking by working through the hard parts. Do it yourself. If it needs polishing for external presentation, then bring in a writer.

  • http://ben.casnocha.com Ben Casnocha

    Business plans are essential but useless. Essential because of thinking process; useless b/c you’ll most likely never look at it again. I used Palo Alto Software when I wrote my business plan — a good tool.
    Btw, author name of the post exists neither on the post individual page nor in the RSS feed. Again, I can only determine author by counting the number of hyphens.

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    Ben – succinctly said. Also – the author name is on the main page but not the archive page – I’ll fix that.

  • http://www.socialdegree.com Brian Balfour

    While I agree that the only people that should write the business plan are the founders, I disagree with the value gained from writing a business plan.
    Myself being an entrepreneur and haven written several b-plans, I have found that in a large part they were a waste of time. The hours that I burned focusing on the business plan would have been much better spent on building and refining an actual product.
    There are only so many things that you can learn from a word document, but you can learn infinitely more with an actual product built and out in customers hands.
    Especially if you are working on an internet startup, you can easily raise money with a quality built beta site, some user traction, and a executive summary.

  • http://www.ventureadventure.net Jack Poller

    I think it depends on what you want out of the exercise. If all you want is a finished document to put in front of investors, it may be worthwhile to pay someone, especially if image and presentation are not your forte.
    There’s a lot of value to going through the exercise yourself, however. By doing the basic research, you can understand your competition and the market. You might be able to segment the market to your advantage, and even discover a niche market that’s currently under developed.
    Developing the financial model for your business can crystallize many issues – amount of funding required, revenue potential, GM models, etc. (Of course, none of this seems to make sense for the Internet startup, but ….)
    When I presented my first business plan to a VC associate (and someone I used to work for), his response was “Great – now I know you know how to pilot Word and Excel. But tell me about your business.” Since I had done the research, I was able to explain the business, not the document.
    I’m currently in the early stages of this effort for another company I’m starting. It’s a pain, but my schedule calls for about a month of research to develop the plan. I figure the writing of first draft should be about a week. Then another month or so to refine the plan, working with my advisors. (You can track my progress at http://www.ventureadventure.net)

  • http://www.bplans.com/ Noah Parsons

    I think that even detractors of business plans will find that they did go through a planning process of some sort as they started and grew their businesses.
    A plan does not need to be a highly polished word document – unless you are circulating it to investors. What is important is the planning process. This can happen in powerpoint, on a white board, on a napkin, etc. The critical thing is that some planning happened so that a new company has some sense of what its roadmap is going to be.
    The planning process forces entrepreneurs to answer the difficult questions that are easy to avoid in the early days: who is my target market? how will I reach them? what is my pricing model? what are my true operating costs? can I afford to fund development and initial marketing? etc, etc.
    These are questions that need answers and only a planning process can answer them. Again, no need for a formal document, but some sort of plan documented in some form.

  • Logan M. Cheek

    I recall a couple of incidents early in my VC career where I was backing a deal, but soliciting additional funding (from a public source) that had requirements for formatting and levels of detail well beyond that of the original plan. Since the entrepreneurial team was deeply involved in prepping their product for introduction at COMDEX, I took it upon myself to rewrite the plan. Stayed up all night doing it, while watching Leonid Brezhnev’s funeral live from Moscow.
    Observations: 1) in the dynamics of hi tech, all plans become obsolete within a few weeks, if not days. If they don’t, they’re probably not worth the paper they were written on, 2) that being the case, writing the plan becomes more a disciplined exercise in understanding the business, rather than a paperwork chore, and best be done by the founder / entrepreneur, and 3) corollary: one who writes the plan himself (rather than delegating the responsibility to any of a number of willing and eager consultants) becomes intimately versed in the strategy and economics of the business. Presentations to investors and potential customers become more informed. And for me, I found that I was the most effective director — at least for the next twelve months or so — in that I knew instantly the effect of any change in strategy, direction, or (more usually) product launch delay.
    Lesson learned: Don’t delegate, do it yourself. If you lack confidence in your writing skills, you should still do it yourself, then bring in an editor to give it a final polish.

    • Narby K.

      Good show, Mr. Cheek. It confirms my experience. Narby K.

  • http://www.simpleandloveable.com Natalie Ferguson

    I understand how people feel like writing a business plan is too hard… it’s not the ideas that’s the problem, its the formatting! We’ve just launched a business planning product that cuts all the scary stuff out of writing a plan and lets founders and owners easily add and monitor every area of their business. We made it to revolutionise the way they plan, turn business planning into an ongoing, up-to-date and collaborative thing that focuses on your business, not your english skills.
    Check out the free trial at http://www.planhq.com, I’d love to hear your feedback as to how on track we are :)

  • Salinda lewis

    Hello, My name is Salinda Lewis its my first time in writting a business plan. I need a lot of help. I’m not a good writer, but willing to learn how to write my business plan.

  • http://www.knowpreneur.net Tony Wanless

    Sorry, but I beg to differ with most of the thoughts here.
    As one of those “business plan consultants” who not only writes them, but often judges them for colleges and contests, it’s been my experience that many entrepreneurs, especially tech entrepreneurs, are terrible business planners, no matter how much software they use.
    Why? Because they’re too close to the business, too much in love with their idea, and too wrapped up in the technical aspects.
    In an ideal world, everybody would be able to step outside of themselves enough to logically put together a persuasive argument to investors about why they should cough up money for your idea. But that’s not the world we live in.
    Professional business plan writing is not simply writing. It’s working collaboratively with someone who knows how to ask you the right questions, elicit the right answers, highlight what’s most important (first hint — it isn’t your product or technology even though you spend 15 pages describing it), and is able to put it in a logical and persuasive sequence that convinces investors that in fact you do know what you’re doing.
    So it costs $5000. How much is your business worth?. DIY may be cheaper, but it’s also often stupider. Despite the prevailing belief shown here, not everyone is expert at everything.
    And you have to know when that means you.

  • http://www.planb-bg.com Savina

    I agree with the last comment. I am a consultant in business planning for SMEs. If it was that easy to write a business plan I would have no clients. However, someone should take the time to make the necessary research, calculations, work out strategies for cutting expenses, etc. If you are interested in some of the areas in which you could get advice visit our website. As we are based in Bulgaria we do not charge such outrageous fees. Remember that it is better to give some money for business planning in the beginning but save time and money in the future.

    • Melissa Heredia

      can you send me your information. I’m looking to hire someone to write my business plan.

      • writeahead

        Hi Melissa, if you’re still looking for help with your plan, feel free to reach out to me at renegadeplanner dot com. I’m happy to assist you!

        • Melissa

          Please email me your contact info to melissa@bellavitalashes.com

        • Viya la Belle

          Hi renegadeplanner I

          am looking to hire someone to write my catering , restaurant business plan please send me your information viya3ka@live.com
          thank you

        • Jyd Folorunsho Oluwafemi

          Hello Melissa Heredia,

          how are you and hope all is well?you are choosen amongst the best to have a chat with and i hope i have well connected to the best who can direct my business project proposal and perhaps we can work together. you can connect with me on facebook: jyd.oluwafemi@facebook.com and jydluv@hotmail.com or jydluv@yahoo.com

          and please kindly send me a mobile number in which we can have an online discussion.

          thanks and best regards!

          Folorunsho Olajide Oluwafemi

          +224666413583 and +224628234434

    • Mayank

      Hey Savina ,

      We are an IT company based in India. We are looking to create a new product however it would be quite expensive and time consuming to work on it. Also we want mitigate the risk and want to assured about its success. Looking for someone to make a accurate business plan. Please let me know if you can help us out.
      reach me out at mayank@saglusinfo.com or mayankrtrivedi@gmail.com

      Cheers
      Mayank

  • jyoti

    hi friends
    im here with my one of problem.i want to start my own fashion studio .i need investment for same .aim a fashion designer bt i have no money to invest .so, approaching to inverter i need business plan but i really not able to make .so could you advice me what i do for…