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We work closely with you to understand your goals and vision, research your markets and competitors, and develop your business plan. Although most clients hire us to write a business plan they often find that the process they go through developing a plan is ultimately more valuable than the documents themselves.
Our Business Plan Development Process
Our business planning process is intense, thorough, and highly collaborative. We primarily work with small and mid-size organizations, ranging from just one or two employees up to hundreds.
During our business planning process, we will help you and your team refine your business model, identify your most profitable customers, fine-tune your marketing plan, and improve your sales projections. We provide an objective view, so your final business plan makes a statement that is based on reality, yet exudes confidence.
- We work closely with you to understand your goals and vision, and then develop your entire business plan, from “elevator pitch” to “exit strategy.”
- We don’t start with a “canned” business plan format — each plan is individually crafted to meet the unique requirements of each client.
- Unlike many of our competitors, we expect — even demand — several iterations. We understand that the first version is rarely perfect. If you are not happy with our work, we aren’t either.
- We don’t just “write a business plan.” We question assumptions, perform independent research on the market and competition, determine business feasibility, and explore and propose alternative ways to market your product or service. We are consultants, not just writers.
- If you need to raise capital, we’ll evaluate your business plan from the viewpoint of a prospective investor or partner. Our experience allows us to quickly spot problems and fix them long before you meet with your first investor.
- We provide you with a small team of experienced business consultants who understand and care about your business.
Rest assured that no matter how simple or complicated your underlying business is, we will spend the time and effort necessary to make your plan a major springboard towards your future success.
Contact Us now to speak with one of our senior consultants!
What’s Included in our Business Planning Service
Our writing style is clear, direct, and simple. A complete strategic business plan includes the following components:
- Industry Overview — a general introduction to the industry
- Market Opportunity — a discussion of how large the business opportunity is in terms of revenue, number of customers, number of sub-markets, growth trends, etc.
- Customers — who are they, where are they, how many are there, etc.?
- Competition — understand the competitive landscape in as much detail as possible. If there are no direct competitors now, then who are your indirect competitors?
- Products & Services — What products and services will the business supply to customers?
- A description of the Business Model, including all major revenue streams. How will the business make money?
- Marketing & Sales Plan — how will you attract and retain customers, deliver your product/service to them, and earn their loyalty? How will you position your products and services relative to competitors?
- Operations — how will you get things done on a daily basis? This includes everything from research through production on to sales and billing.
- Management & Staff — probably the single most important factor in any effective business plan. Describe the management team in terms of experience, talents, connections, etc. What additional resources will you need to make the business succeed?
- Investment Opportunity and Exit Strategy for Investors — what will investors get for their money or their time? When and how will they be compensated?
- Financial Projections — includes monthly cash flow projections (with all revenue sources and expenses included), pro-forma financial statements, marketing and sales costs, taxes, office space, development costs, etc. We also provide clear and detailed explanations of the assumptions behind the financial projections.
- SWOT (Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats) Analysis
- Supplementary Materials — patents, trademarks, trade agreements, letters of reference, etc.
A professional business plan ties all of the above together into a self-consistent document that serves as a roadmap for your business.
Business Plan Types
As professional business plan consultants, we see a wide variety of business plan formats. The three most common business plan types are bank financing, internal planning, or investor financing. They are listed here, roughly in order of decreasing detail and complexity.
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.)
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 and packaging is less important than it would be for a plan designed to raise debt or equity 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 larger 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.
Banks like stable, consistently growing businesses with proven business models and lots of collateral (equipment, land, 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 “bricks 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.)
The above list is not exhaustive. For example certain visa plans for immigrants to the United States require a formal business plan. These include the E1, E2, and EB5 visa programs. The requirements for these business plans are rather minimal.
Business Plan Pricing
Despite the rumors, business planning is rarely easy. Especially if this is your first time. Be sure to avoid these common mistakes when creating a business plan.
We do not offer any fixed price packages and we generally avoid templates. Before we can estimate the fee for completing your business plan, we need to understand your individual situation. This generally requires a brief conversation about your project goals, timetable, budget, scope, and other issues.
Factors That Affect Pricing
- 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?
- Industry Stage — Is the industry growing, flat, or shrinking?
- Market share — How much market share do 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?
Relatively simple, straightforward business plan projects (such as a small coffee or sandwich shop), can be as little as $5,000, whereas more complicated projects can easily exceed $20,000. Although we are far from being the most expensive, we are also rarely the least expensive.
Every Business Needs a Plan
Of course everyone in the world knows that Ground Floor Partners is the BEST place to go if you want a consulting firm to help you develop your business plan.
But if you decide to go it alone, here are a few guides and books that can help you:
SBA Guide to Writing a Business Plan – Tips and guidelines on writing a solid business plan, from executive summary to appendix.
SBA Business Plan Tool – A step by step guide to researching and writing a business plan.
SBA Business Plan Writing Course (video) – A simple 30 minute video course walks you through the main steps needed to develop and write your business plan.
Business Plans That Win $$$ — Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum – By far one of the easiest and least pretentious books ever written on business planning. You can buy it at most independent booksellers.
Some “business experts” claim a business plan isn’t necessary. We say “poppycock”. Every business needs a business plan. The level of detail required may be up for debate, but the idea of just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks is foolhardy in the extreme. A solid business plan by no means guarantees success, but it greatly increases your odds.