Anyone can write a business plan. In fact, if you’ve ever put thought into starting a business you have gone through the business planning process to some degree. So the question as to whether or not to get some professional help (business-wise) comes down to two factors; what is at stake, and, your proficiency in putting together business plans.
The first dictates the second. One way to put the two into perspective is to firstly write down the objective of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to get a bank loan, or to attract an investor, or for strategy development. Secondly, consider what life would be like if you achieved this objective, and what life would be like if you didn’t. This then provides you with a framework of putting a value on a professional business plan.
For this article we’ll focus on Presentational Business Plans, which are plans prepared to present to a bank, investor or other third-parties for approval. In these cases there are three core components business consultants should bring to the table:
- Technical Writing Skills
- Third-Party Perspective
Technical Writing Skills
– This is the main reason why a business consultant would be engaged in this instance. The true skills lie in defining the objective of the plan, the intended audience of the plan, and the best structure to present the information to achieve the objective. From this point you need to ensure that you articulate your case professionally by gathering the required information to support your case. I liken this process to that of going to court; you need to substantiate your case and back it by evidence.
– This is what I find a lot of clients really need. A neutral party to tell them the truth about their business idea or ambitions. Friends and family can be either too supportive or too cautious. Either way, they are acting with the best of intentions however are also governed by emotional ties. Someone unknown to you with no prejudices or ulterior motives can provide a true assessment of your venture. Even better when that person assesses businesses for a living.
– This one is an added bonus if it occurs. I’m not talking about the relationship you may strike up with the consultant, but who the consultant may introduce you to. For example, our business has been operating over a dozen years and produced upwards of 1,250 business plans, Information Memorandums and other similar documents. The vast majority of these have been to raise capital either through banks or investors. As a result we have developed a number of relationships with various lenders, investors, business angels and similar groups. This means we have the potential to introduce clients to people who can assist them to further their business venture.
So, when you’re contemplating whether to engage a business consultant to assist with the next stage of your business keep in mind it’s not just the business planning they will bring to the table. They may tweak the business model to open further opportunities, introduce you to people who can open doors for you and who knows where it will lead.