Can a Business Plan Consultant Add Value? 

     

A business plan is the most important document that an early-stage company produces. It is usually a pre-requisite to securing finance, including venture capital funding, and it provides an essential operational guide for management. Whether to hire a consultant to produce all or part of the plan therefore represents an important decision.

The decision should be based on the ability of management to write the plan themselves, the time available to commit to this important project and the areas which could benefit from outside expertise. Addressing these issues will determine whether a qualified consultant can add significant value to the finished product and, ultimately, the value placed on the firm.

Irrespective of whether the business plan is produced internally or with outside help, it is imperative to keep in mind that management will be responsible for the execution of the plan. It is therefore essential that management fully understand and sign off on the assumptions underlying the business model, the market analysis and financial statements and projections.

To this end, it is highly advisable that a firm completes a first draft of the document, or at least a detailed outline, before hiring outside services. Having reached this stage, a business plan consultant can provide valuable assistance in research, writing, financial modeling, editing and determining feasibility of the business model. An experienced consultant can also tailor the document for a targeted audience, such as meeting the business plan criteria of venture capital providers.

A business plan consultant can typically provide expertise in the following areas for an early-stage or growth venture:

  • Take the core business concept and vision of the company and organize a coherent business plan outline.
  • Conduct market and industry research and competitive analysis to help determine the feasibility of both the business concept and the effectiveness of the company’s marketing strategy.
  • Develop revenue and operational cost projections.
  • Determine start-up costs and capital requirements going forward.
  • Combine the revenue and cost analysis with the capital requirements to produce financial statements and projections, including income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet data.
  • Combine all the above elements into a professional document that meets the requirements of the company and its target audiences.
A company can also choose hire a specialized consultant to complete individaul tasks. Common areas that companies outsource are detailed market research and financial modeling. Again, it is crucial that management understand all underlying assumptions and can take ownership of the plan or projections going forward, as well as explain the plan to potential investors.

Obtaining a recommendation from within the company’s industry may be the best way to identify the most qualified consultant. The internet also provides a significant resource for researching potential candidates.

Hiring a business plan consultant can save precious time and add value through additional expertise and insight. In other cases, management may posses all the skills and resources to produce the plan themselves. The right choice is the one that produces the highest quality plan and provides a firm foundation for the company’s growth and success.

Other resources

  • 7 Tips For Obtaining Angel Investor Funding
    If you have a start-up company that is looking for up to $500,000 in financing, your best option is to locate and meet with Angel Investors. Angel Investors are people that invest their own money in start-up companies. Many of them started out the same way, as an entrepreneur with their own start-up company. They like the entrepreneurial spirit and are looking to fund a start-up or two and offer their own business advice and wisdom. Also, their financing terms are less painful that what a venture capital firm would offer and they can usually make a decision in a few weeks on whether or not they will finance your company. Now you know why they are called "Angels".
    Read more: Angel Investor Funding
  • 5 Sources of Equity Capital for Your Business
    If you're thinking about getting outside or equity capital to help fund your business, there are some things you need to do first, that can make your business more attractive to investors. Follow these simple ideas, and you'll be well on your way to raising the money you need. First, always talk to a qualified business attorney (not your family lawyer). There are a lot of laws pertaining to how equity capital can be raised from the public, and the laws change often. You need someone who understands not only these laws, but also how to make sure that any business contracts are written to protect you and your business, especially the fine print.
    Read more: Equity capital financing

 

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