When it's time to write a business plan for your small business, you'll have to decide whether to write it yourself or to enlist the help of a professional. There are pros and cons to both methods. This guide will help you decide when it's more beneficial to write it yourself and when you should obtain guidance from an expert.
Business Plan Format
Here are some things that you might include in a typical business plan:
- Executive summary
- Business description & business environment
- Industry information
- Market information
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Financial plan
- Short-term and long-term goals
Business plans can contain more or less information in them, depending on the needs and purpose of your plan.
You Know Your Business
You know your small business better than anyone. Rather than outsourcing the task of writing your business plan, your intimate knowledge of your business should encourage you to write your own. You know the goals of your business and you've researched the industry and your competition. In short, because of your knowledge of your business, you might be better suited to the task of writing a business plan than anyone you could outsource it to.
Plans Can Be Simple
A business plan doesn't have to be a 75 page document loaded with custom charts and graphs. Beyond financing, a business plan can be simple enough to give you guidance in the operations and management of your business. You could also write a simple business plan of your own, and then have a professional edit or touch it up.
Business Plan Software
You may consider purchasing a business plan software to help you. Business Plan Pro and Biz Plan Builder are two examples of professional programs that can help your write your own. They include multiple templates and different styles of business plans, and are available in versions that can integrate easily with your bookkeeping software. These programs can also help guide you through the writing process, and help jump-start your business plan writing efforts. You can purchase these programs for less than the cost of hiring someone to write a business plan for you.
On the other hand, you may find that you don't have the time to spend on drafting your own business plan. This would be a situation where it might be a good idea to outsource the project. You'll still need to provide the writer with an outline, some basic research and other information so they can write the plan effectively. Some of this can be achieved by having the writer interview you about the goals and vision of your business.
Professionals who specialize in writing business plans know all the ins and outs of a successful plan. Because they focus on writing these types of plans, they're bound to have knowledge and secrets that you might not have run across in doing your own research. Their experience can benefit you through the quality of the finished plan, which can help you to succeed down the road.
Keep in mind that business plans need to be flexible, and you need to be able to make changes to it in the future as the needs and goals of your business change. Whether you write a business plan yourself or outsource it to a professional, make sure you have a digital copy of the document for when you eventually have to change it.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.