You’ve decided that you need a business plan, but you’ve been having so much trouble with it that you’re ready to give up. Now is a good time to consider whether you should complete the plan on your own or hire a consultant. What abilities and qualities should you seek for in a professional business plan consultant if you decide to engage one? What kind of services should they offer? Finally, how much should you anticipate spending? Let’s take a look at the answers.
How much are you committed to the company?
You might not be ready to think about a business plan if you’re simply kicking about a concept or haven’t spent much time researching and planning. Hiring a consultant at this stage will be a waste of everyone’s time.
What do you prefer the most? Money or time?
It might seem like a pointless question, but it isn’t. Many aspiring entrepreneurs are unemployed or underemployed, with plenty of time but little money. In that situation, you must be selective in terms of the level of assistance you require from a consultant. If you’re a skilled writer, you can simply employ a consultant to guide and advise you while you handle the majority of the writing. This is a great way to put your hard-earned money to good use, and it will always be a worthwhile investment if you hire an expert who understands your industry. Remember that good consultants are in high demand, and set your fees accordingly. Rather than hiring someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and wasting your money, budget for the planning phase and only hire someone good when you can afford their rates.
On the other side, if you are employed full-time or have a large sum of money, you may find yourself in the enviable position of having more money than time. In this instance, engaging a consultant to take you through the business planning process and possibly even draught the complete business plan for you is a good idea. To get the most out of the consulting engagement, you must be involved throughout the process and grasp every detail of the plan, from the mission statement to the exit strategy. You’ll just wind up with a very costly paperweight if you don’t.
Have you ever attempted to start a business?
If so, you should seriously consider hiring someone to assist you in developing the concept, researching the market and competitors, developing realistic financial estimates, and exploring some of the hazards involved. Furthermore, any competent business plan expert will be able to assist you in forming your firm, locating office or retail space, and so on. In most cases, the consultant will suggest you to trustworthy professionals in each sub-specialty (legal, real estate, accounting, insurance, and so on) or at the very least point you in the right direction.
Do you need to get bank finance or other forms of investment money to get your firm off the ground?
When it comes to investors, you usually only get one chance. They move on to the next opportunity if they don’t like what they see the first time. A skilled consultant can improve your prospects of obtaining capital for your firm, as well as your chances of succeeding once you have received investment.
What is the market potential for your business concept, and how much of it do you want to take?
If the market is really huge (say, billions of dollars), the danger of not getting things right from the start far surpasses the expense of employing a consultant to make sure you get it correctly. It’s the one time when “doing it yourself” isn’t a good idea. The objective is to hire someone who will truly provide value to your company.
If you determine you need professional assistance in the end, you should ask yourself a different set of questions.
When hiring a professional consultant, what should you look for?
First and foremost, confirm if they are true pros. Then pay attention to the following:
- Is their website trustworthy?
- Are they incorporated into the system?
- Is this something they do for a living or just for fun?
- Do they have happy customers and will they recommend you to them?
- Do they have a thorough grasp of your company’s operations?
- If you get “yes” as answers to all the above questions, then you might be in luck.
Are you at ease around this person or group?
“Collaborative” is the most successful arrangement. With the consultant, you’ll need to give and take. You should feel at ease asking questions, and the consultant should be eager to answer them. If you don’t, it won’t work.
You must also have faith in this individual (or group). Walk away if you think they’re playing games or don’t listen.
The same is true in the opposite direction. You are wasting everyone’s time and money if you withhold information from the consultant, don’t return phone calls, or engage in any other type of game.
How many individuals will be involved in the development of your company plan?
If the answer is “one,” you might not be getting the best job. There isn’t a single person who excels at everything. The best outcomes, in our experience, occur when one person leads the project and one or two people (with diverse skill sets) assist.
Be aware of major consulting organizations that entice you in with the “A Team” just to hand you off to the “B Team” right away.
What should you budget for?
For a thorough business plan, a professional business plan consultant will typically charge between $1,000 and $10,000 (however there are some circumstances where $20,000 is warranted). The low end refers to “simple” enterprises like a pizza outlet, a small retail store, a hair salon, and so on.
Fees on the higher end of this scale can be expected if your business strategy contains new or difficult technologies, uncommon or many revenue sources, or considerable investment funds. Clients frequently tell us that their strategy is “simple.” We discover that things are a little more complicated than they expected once we start digging into the details. A qualified consultant will have sufficient experience to navigate the complexities and identify solutions.
How do you save money while maintaining a high level of quality?
The trick is to determine what you know and what you excel at. Then get the services of an expert to fill in the blanks.
Consider the following scenario: you have a solid background in sales and technology, but limited experience in marketing and finance. Then you should look for a marketing and financial consultant. Of course, they must understand the business, but if you can concentrate on what you do best and have others fill in the gaps, you will save money and have a far stronger business plan than if you did it all yourself.