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.