Any business, and particularly individuals or companies focused on strategic business consulting will benefit from the development of an effective and comprehensive business plan.
Many people think business plans are designed to secure funding only, however, this is not true – your business plan is like a road map for your consulting business’s success – it gives you an indication of where you are, where you need to be, and how you plan to get there.
Consider the Audience
Your business plan might be a working document for your use only, or it may be devised to impress stakeholders. Often, it would be used to woo potential investors. Of course, the structure, working and “look” of the plan will vary according to who will be reading it.
By figuring out whom your plan will be addressing, you will help yourself to be able to create the right kind of plan. Make a list of everyone who potentially would receive a copy. Now decide on the tone and style, and then you can get cracking!
Q & A Process
It is often useful, before launching into business plan preparation, to run through a series of questions, and make notes of the answers. These answers would form the basis of your plan.
Some questions that may prove helpful are:
- What is the nature of the consulting practice, and what is its niche?
- What products and or services does the consulting practice offer, and what is its market?
- What is the size of the market, and what would your share be? How many competitors do you have?
- What does our ideal client look like? Who are they, what are their needs, and where would we find them?
- What is our ideology, morals and ethics?
- What equipment, resources and technology will be needed in order to start?
- Do we need facilities? Offices or premises?
- Who will manage the business, and how will management be handled?
- Will we require professionals to assist in the setup and early stages? What about staff? Will we hire full time or use subcontractors?
- What are the startup capital requirements, early stage capital, and running costs?
- SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) also, what risks and rewards are we anticipating?
- Lastly, the financials, which may require more than Q & A to get right!
The Business Plan Structure
Generally, business plans for consultants follow a similar structure regardless of the business you are planning to open, and your consultancy is no different.
The best advice here is to search online for a business plan template – there are many available to download free, and some examples even provide guidelines to completing each section.
Alternatively, there is commercial business planning software available, which allows you to easily insert information.
Business Plans Hints and Tips
There are a few things that will make your business plan preparation a little easier.
Firstly, keep the document in the range of 20 – 40 pages, and make provision for easy updating. Also, remember to include the revision number and date somewhere on the document – when you have future revisions and your first plan all muddled up, it makes review a little tricky!
Try to keep the document professional, yet concise, easy to read and understand and straightforward. Jargon may seem impressive, but if your audience cannot understand it, it is wasted!
Keep financial projections as simple as possible – again, if you do not have any idea where to start, the internet is a great resource for templates etcetera.
While one person should ideally develop and write the plan, to maintain continuity, you should seek input from all stakeholders. Ideas and input from many sources will make your plan a much more comprehensive document!
Lastly, remember presentation – print the document out, or have it printed by professionals, have it bound and create a professional impact!