Entrepreneur reviewing financials with small business advisor

Before any consultant can estimate the fee for completing your business plan, he or she needs to understand your individual situation. This generally requires a brief conversation about your goals, timetable, budget, scope, and other issues.

How Much Does It Cost?

First of all, what is the plan for?

The three most common business plan types are bank financing, internal planning, or investor financing.

Bank Financing

Banks like stable, consistently growing businesses with proven business models and lots of collateral, such as equipment, land or buildings. This allows them to focus on historical performance, hard assets, and cash flow rather than market projections and future potential. This type of business plan usually requires a modest level of detail in the financial projections, market opportunity analysis, and competitor analysis.

Many established businesses fall into this category, especially “brick and mortar” businesses. Generally, any business seeking an SBA loan, a working capital credit line, or a non-SBA loan fits into this category. Note that although some banks will lend money to start-up businesses, they usually focus on tried and true business categories where industry data is plentiful (such as restaurants, nightclubs, retail stores, etc.)

Internal Planning

This type of plan applies to any business, independent of growth stage or industry vertical. Since the whole purpose is to guide internal planning, the formatting, presentation and packaging are less important than they would be for a plan designed to raise capital.

In some cases, the financial projections, supplementary materials, and other documents (such as a PowerPoint presentation) are either not needed or are only needed in a simpler form. However, the most important variable for this business plan type is the underlying complexity and novelty of the business. A complicated or unusual business will usually require a more in-depth business plan.

For established businesses with annual revenues above a few million dollars, there are special considerations. Multiple stakeholders, such as a large management team, a Board of Directors, Advisory Board, outside investors, department heads, remote office managers and directors, supply chain vendors, and others need to be involved with the business planning process.

Larger businesses also often have multiple revenue streams from different products and services, serve multiple markets across geographic boundaries, and have more complex requirements for technology applications and services. All of these factors must be considered carefully during the business planning process.

Investor Financing

Many businesses are simply not good candidates for bank financing. Generally most start-ups and early stage businesses that involve new technology, innovative business services, practices, products or concepts will be unable to obtain bank financing. Most technology businesses (Internet, Information Technology, biotech, cleantech), and green or sustainable businesses fall in this category.

These types of business usually seek to obtain equity financing, typically from angel investors or venture capital firms. Most angel investors are successful entrepreneurs or business executives who have many places to put their money. If they see a flawed business plan (sloppy, inconsistent, or poorly conceived) they will walk away.

Angel investors and venture capitalists expect and demand the highest quality, often following a due diligence process. That usually means a proven or innovative business model; detailed, accurate market research; scenario analysis; well-documented financial projections, as well as extensive supplementary materials (charts, graphs, sample materials, letters of intent, sample contracts, patent or trademark documentation, etc.)

Other Factors That Affect Business Plan Pricing

  • Size — How many people are employed and how much revenue does the business generate today?
  • Scale — How big do you expect the business to be in five years?
  • Speed — How fast do you plan to grow?
  • Competition — How tough is the competition? Are they well-capitalized and entrenched? Are there just a few giant competitors, or hundreds of smaller ones?
  • Industry Stage — Is the industry growing, flat, or shrinking?
  • Market size and share — How large is the market and how much market share can you reasonably expect to attain?
  • Revenue Streams — Which and how many revenue streams?
  • Business Model — Is this a proven business model, or something completely new?
  • Financing Sources — Do you plan to raise multiple rounds of funding, from multiple sources, or just one round from one source?
  • Financing Scale — Do you plan to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of millions, or something in between?
  • Stakeholders — How many, and which, stakeholders will be involved?
  • Regulations — Is the industry relatively unconstrained, strictly regulated, or somewhere in between?
  • Stage of Business — Is this a start-up business, a spinoff from a large corporation, a merger, or a continuation of an existing business?
  • Data — How much data is available (and how much have you collected) on the industry, your competition, and market trends?

Finding a business consultant that you trust, who has your back, and who knows what he or she is doing is not easy. Be wary of firms that charge a fortune and promise the moon, the sun and the stars, but deliver a  very generic plan with lofty end-goals but no realistic path for getting there. At the other end of the spectrum are the bargain basement planners who charge ultra-low prices and crank out business plans like there’s no tomorrow.

At Ground Floor Partners we take business planning seriously, and charge accordingly. Although we are far from being the most expensive, we are also rarely the least expensive. Relatively simple, straightforward business plan projects (such as a small coffee or sandwich shop), can be as low as $7,500, whereas more complicated projects can potentially exceed $20,000. 

If quality, experience and integrity are important to you, give us a call. We’ll treat your business like it’s our business.