Business Plan Services – Why They Are Better at Writing Than You

When you first start up a business and you are looking to get funding of any kind, you will need to have a well written business plan in order to get anywhere and if you are not confident in writing one yourself a great alternative is a professional business plan service. Even if you are a talented and well versed writer, unless your occupation is as a current or former plan writer, than you are probably better served seeking help.

Perhaps you doubt this sentiment and feel as though you can tackle a plan all by yourself. Here are some reasons why a professional business writing service will write a better plan than you:

• Experience: Many business plan services employ business plan writers who have been writing plans for years. This is simply a skill that can’t be learned overnight. Just as you may be the best at what you do, a plan writer is the best at what they do. A professional plan writer will not only be able to write well, but they will also know what potential investors are looking for in regards to the plan itself.

• Time: In business you can never have enough time. By hiring a professional business plan service to write your plan, you will be able to focus on the many other things that come with owning a business. Even if you could effectively write your own business plan, with everything else that is likely to be on your plate, you would probably not complete your plan in a very timely manner.

• Complexity: Okay, say you get though the actual writing of the plan. You still have to deal with the financials. This can make even the most level head absolutely spin. However, the financial section is probably the most important part of your plan and will be the part that many investors flip right to.

• Guarantee: Any quality writing service will offer you a guarantee of some sort. Typically, if you are not happy with the way that your business plan turns out, then it will be re-written until it is to your liking. If you write your own plan and then end up with something you don’t like, you are stuck, unless you want to write it again.

Yes, you can go about writing your plan on your own, but is it really worth it? You can also pull your own teeth if you have a toothache, but you are probably better off by going to a dentist and seeing what they have to say.

By hiring a professional business plan service you can be sure that your plan will be the best it can possibly be. While it will cost you money to do so, in business, you have to spend money to make money. Though in this case it may be that you have to spend money in order to borrow money.

Getting Started Guide to Self-Employment: Your Business Plan

Why you need a business plan

You’ve heard it before, you should write a plan before you start your business. You might be wondering why that’s so important. Here are three good reasons. Writing a plan

  • clarifies what your business goals are so you know how to measure success,
  • helps you spot potential problems so you can plan for them instead of getting caught by surprise, and
  • shows potential investors or lenders how you will make the business profitable so they will be more likely to invest their money or approve your loan.

How detailed a plan do you need before you jump in and get started? That depends on two things-the amount of risk you are taking and how much outside financing you need. For example, if you are a painter that has been employed by a reputable contractor and you want to start your own business by taking some additional jobs on your own, you aren’t taking much risk. As long as you verify that you are not putting your full-time income at risk, you may be able to just start taking jobs and plan as you go. When I started my coaching and consulting business, I used a personal credit line in an amount that I knew I could pay off to cover expenses. I did some planning to ensure that I would have a good chance of success and keep my expenses under budget. If you are planning a business start up that involves significant upfront investment, you will want a more detailed plan. Even if you plan on financing the business through personal loans, a second mortgage, or your own savings, you will want to know that you are investing your money wisely and developing a plan will help you be sure of this. If you are seeking outside investors or business loans that are not secured by your personal assets, you will need to convince investors or lenders to say yes to your request with a detailed, realistic and well-researched plan.

What goes into your business plan?

The body of a well-written business plan contains:

  • a description of the business
  • market information
  • financial information, and
  • management information

Business description

The description of your business is based on its mission, vision, and values. What will your business do and how will it generate income? Will you have employees? If so, what training, education or experience will your key employees need? Your description should clarify exactly what service or product(s) your company will offer and identify your target market. It should also indicate what business structure you will use and identify the key players in the company.

Market

After you have defined those basics, it’s time to discuss the market for your business. Who are your competitors and who dominates the market? Think about the unique strengths that will allow you to obtain a sustainable competitive advantage in serving the target market you identified above. In order to succeed, you will need to identify and build upon your unique strengths. You might want to perform a SWOT analysis to help you clarify your competitive position. A SWOT is simply a collection of lists-your strengths and weaknesses (things that are inherent to the business you plan to run) and your opportunities and threats (things that are external to your business) You should only list things that pertain to your business objective. For example, if you want to be a model, an attractive appearance would be strength. If you want to be a technical writer, your appearance is probably irrelevant. Once you’ve made your list, take it a step further. Clarify how you can use your strengths to counteract your weaknesses and take advantage of market opportunities to build a sustainable advantage over your competitors and develop a plan to overcome potential threats.

Financial

This is the most important piece of your plan. If your business is not profitable, it won’t work as a business! If it’s something you love, you can still enjoy it as a hobby. If it makes a difference in the world and you want to fund it, that’s fine. Just be realistic and recognize whether or not you can make a living out of what you plan to do. If you can’t-it’s better to know that up front.

You will start with a detailed listing of your start-up expenses. While expenses will vary depending on the type of business you plan to establish, common start-up expenses include legal work, logo and brochure design, training, and site selection and improvement. You will also include the available assets you will use to pay for start up expenses and the loans or outside capital that you will obtain. Start-up expenses, assets and funding all refer to what is needed and available before you actually start your business.

Then you will project your future income and expenses after you start doing business for the first year in a projected profit and loss statement. It’s important to be as accurate as possible here. Many businesses will operate at a loss when they first open because it takes time to build up a customer base and becomes established. That’s OK, if it’s part of your plan and you know how you will keep the business going. It’s not OK if you were too optimistic in your projections and can’t find the money to keep operating until the business starts turning a profit. When I studied for my MBA, we learned to game the system by starting with the numbers that we needed and adjusting the different income and expense numbers so the end result was a profitable “business.” That’s OK for the classroom, but it’s not really an effective or smart way to plan your business. If your projections show that the business is not likely to show a profit or that you can’t afford to fund it until it does, rethink your plan. Is there anything that you can realistically do to turn things around? If not, it’s better to look at a different business idea until you find one that works.

As you work on your profit and loss projections, give a detailed monthly forecast for the first year and quarterly forecasts for years two and three. Of course, these forecasts will change as your business grows and prospers, but they should be based on a realistic evaluation of the market and the competitive conditions your business faces. Be prepared to explain to lenders and investors where you will find your first clients and how you will establish and grow your customer base. In business, nothing happens until somebody buys something. Who will buy from you and what will you do to ensure that they keep buying?

Packaging the Plan

Congratulations! You’ve finished the hardest part of completing a business plan. If you’re a solo entrepreneur and you don’t need outside funding, you can stop planning and stop doing. If you need to convince lenders or investors to help you fund your business, you’ll want to take the time to present your plan in a professional format.. A good way to do this is to add a cover sheet and executive summary in front of the body of your plan. The cover sheet will identify your business and the key people involved in the business. The executive summary will briefly summarize your plan so an investor or loan officer can quickly determine whether or not they want to look at the details in the body of the plan. Obviously, you want the answer to be yes, so take the time to make your summary as compelling as possible. Then, attach supporting documents as an appendix at the end of the plan. This section would include things like tax returns for the owners that are funding the business and any documentation that supports your financial projections.

Presenting Business Plans – Why People Feel Nervous and What You Can Do About It

If you are looking for finance to either start up a business or expand your existing one you have to accept that if you want the Bank to say yes to your superb business idea, you are going to have to spend time preparing for the interview.

The chat with the Manager is your only chance to really sell yourself and your idea. It’s rare that you’ll get a second chance with the same Manager or Bank. So don’t deny yourself the opportunity.

But many people have a problem in presenting themselves in front of strangers!

So let’s consider why people find the idea of selling themselves and their business a daunting task.

Lack of Confidence

Some people just don’t feel confident when talking in a public situation. You may not consider communicating on a one-to-one basis as talking in public, but it is. Outside of your own “self-talk” (conversations you have in your mind with yourself) and within your own home, all conversations are essentially public speeches.

Lack of Preparation

If you haven’t prepared properly then this will show through in any stressful situation. Lack of preparation includes not knowing the ins-and-outs of your business idea or Business Plan and not anticipating the type of questions you’ll be asked during the interview. It’s comparable to going into an examination and knowing deep down that you haven’t put the effort in – do you remember that feeling?

Poor Communication Skills

Some people feel that they can never communicate their ideas in a clear and coherent manner; their thoughts are jumbled up and are not in any order; words and explanation of concepts come out in a muddle. As a result, their body language and voice begins to reflect the uneasiness, which leads to even more mental anguish. And so the cycle continues ever downward!

Poor Self Image

Some business people don’t see the interview as a meeting of equals in which both parties want a successful outcome. They see the Manager as some kind of ogre, someone, who given half the chance, will devour them up and cast them aside, just for his own evil pleasure! This enduring image stays with them right up to the start of the interview, dominating their thoughts and making the whole process a complete disaster!

Lack of Focus and Planning

On the day of the interview, some try to do a thousand-and-one other things before going along to the Bank. What happens? They get stressed out because something has not gone to plan – the man who was to come to repair the washing machine didn’t turn up until an hour after the agreed time; they forgot that the car would need fuel on the way in and so this has added 10 minutes to the journey time; a friend turns up at the house and they don’t have the courage to tell her to go, so an hour later she’s still there!

By the time they get to the Bank, their heart is beating faster than that of a marathon runner and their mind is a complete blank! They don’t see the day as having one job, that of seeing the Bank Manager, and so the day isn’t properly planned.

All these unplanned diversions and delusions can take your mind off mentally preparing for the important task ahead.

Do any of these situations sound familiar? What can you do to put yourself in a better frame of mind?

Here are 3 suggestions out of my 9-step Interview Preparation Plan

Have Belief in Your Future Success

Before someone else can believe in you, you have to believe in yourself. You must absolutely have no doubt in your own mind that you will succeed in setting up your business or moving your current business forward. It’s not about what you believe you are now but what you believe you can be in the future. You may have little in the way of money or assets now but you have to believe that in the future you will have all these things (if this is how you define your idea of success).

You have to be 100% sure that you are going to be one of the few people who will make a success of their life. You have to demonstrate an “I-will-get-to-the-top” attitude. If you don’t believe you can climb to the top of the mountain then it’s certain you won’t! People, and this will include your Bank Manager, follow the person who believes what he is saying.

Know Your Business Plan Inside Out

If you have organised yourself properly, the Manager will have spent time going through your Business Plan before the interview. After reviewing your Plan he will probably have a list of questions to clarify the areas he’s not sure of, or questions just to prompt you to give him a better understanding of certain parts of your business.

To deal with these questions confidently and competently you have to know your Plan inside out. In view of the time constraints people are under these days, it’s possible that the Manager may only have skimmed through your Plan (what! After all your work? After all those hours? Yep, it’s a fact of life I’m afraid!). The answers to his queries of course may actually be contained in the Plan. If this does happen, don’t lose your cool or answer with an “attitude”. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of your Plan. Think how professional and organised you’ll look when you tell him to turn to page 10 and he’ll find the answer to his question right there! If nothing else, it will make feel humble!

Knowing your Plan means that at least during the interview you’re not going to contradict what you included in it. You have to be consistent. If you say something which doesn’t tally with what you stated on paper, what do you think will go through the Manager’s mind? “Does this person know what he’s doing? They obviously don’t have a clear direction or focus for the business if they keep changing their mind.”

Knowing your Plan will demonstrate that you are meticulous, organised and consistent, the type of person a Banker really likes!

Put Yourself in the Manager’s Shoes

One effective way of preparing for the interview is to imagine you as the Manager. Imagine you are seeing yourself and your plan for the first time; pretend you know absolutely nothing about you or your business. What would you ask? What would you want to know? What is likely to confuse an “outsider” about your business? What questions would you ask to get a better understanding? What challenging questions would you ask?

You have to get inside his mind so you can prepare well-researched and well-presented answers to his likely questions. It’s all back to being professional in your presentation, demonstrating that you know your business and that you are worthy of support. You won’t give this impression if you haven’t spend time thinking of possible questions you could be asked and preparing the answers in advance.

Banker’s favourite questions are “What if……” ones:

· “What if your supplier fails you?”

· “What if the price of your raw materials goes up by 10%?”

· “What if you lose your number one customer?”

· “What if one of your critically important employees leaves?”

Set some time aside when preparing for the interview to think like a Banker. What would you want to know if you were in his chair? The list of questions could be endless and there is no way you can pre-empt all of them but at least you will be prepared for the majority of them.

These are just 3 of the steps you can take to prepare yourself for your interview.

Robert Warlow
Small Business Success