What to Prepare When Working With a Business Plan Writer
The right business plan writer can turn your vision into a living roadmap for your business. One that convinces investors, helps you make decisions, and consistently grows.
However, business plan writers can’t whip up a compelling plan from nothing. If you want to compare a business plan to a chef in the kitchen, your business plan writer can cook up an amazing meal. But they’ll need you to bring the ingredients and help out now and again.
As you get ready to work with a business plan writer, here are some things you’ll want to prepare and be prepared for—based on insights from our real-world, experienced LivePlan business plan writers.
1. A vision for your business
Whether you’re the primary shareholder, sole owner, or a good ole fashioned chief cook and dishwasher—you are ultimately the person who understands your enterprise better than anyone else. As such, your business plan needs to represent your vision for the business.
That’s not just a big-picture strategy either. When we talk about your vision, we’re talking about breaking that down into the real-world components of the business. That encompasses both your internal operations and external factors that you and your business plan need to take into account.
This sort of info usually comes up during initial conversations and interviews. As you have your back-and-forth with the writer, sharing your own notes, research, or other information gives the writer helpful details so they better know how to help you with your plan.
2. Be willing to shift your focus
Whether you’re planning for a startup or strategizing a new phase of growth or expansion, business owners can easily agonize about the wrong things. “Fortunately, it’s easy to shift your attention to the right parts of your business and your plan,” says LivePlan business writer David Campbell.
“In my experience, the issue is not that clients agonize over specific things that are not a big deal,” he explains. “It is more so that they need to understand the importance of particular sections and spend more time thinking about them.”
David generally sees this with sections that can be crucial to secure buy-in and funding approval from an outside lender or investor. The sections he sees as most important for owners to focus on include the competitor analysis, such as competitive advantages, and showing that the management team has adequate experience.
“These sections tend to get glossed over by clients,” notes David, “though they are essential items to have nailed down to get funding.”
As you make your decision to work with a business plan writer, consider the parts of planning that have been the biggest struggle for you. That can help you focus on how you want to work together and get the most value from a plan writer.
3. Know your current funding situation, and what (if any) you are seeking
No matter what stage your revenue and profits are in, having accurate numbers, reasonable projections, and a comfort level for discussing them is crucial to your business plan working for you.
As you work with your business plan writer, they will have questions about your numbers, such as prior sales, overhead, revenue projections for next year or next quarter, and more. The better you can discuss your business’s current finances, the better your plan writer can help you articulate and show your numbers in the right way.
Even if you don’t have that sort of financial data yet, you and your plan writer can still collaborate on realistic forecasts, using external benchmarks and public data. And if you are seeking funding, this groundwork helps establish a firm number to ask for that can be backed up by your plan.
4. Awareness of your competitors
Whatever your industry or niche, you have competitors. While it’s crucial to be aware of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities of your business—that understanding needs to extend far beyond your own business.
Your business plan writer will want to talk with you about your competitors. How and where do you compete? Are there situations where you may even collaborate? In our rapidly changing business environment, what emerging technologies or industries are you keeping an eye on as potential disruptors, partners, or both?
“Many clients want to account for the deficiencies of their competitors,” notes David. “Sometimes it is so dramatic that they convince themselves they don’t have any competitors because none stack up to their product or service offerings.”
While it’s understandable that you want to showcase your business’s superiority, a potential investor will want to see that you understand both the positives and the negatives of your competitors. When you and your plan can communicate that you understand what similar businesses are doing well and where they can improve, then you put yourself and your company in a better light. You can come across as informed on your industry, aware of the competitive landscape, and mindful of the future and its impact on your plans and operations.
5. Descriptions of who is involved with your business
Investors, lenders, and partners understand that a business is only as good as the people who run it. They want to know your qualifications and expertise. They may even want to understand how you staff as well as who your management team is.
Your plan writer will want to know this too. Even if they primarily work with you, your plan writer may want to include the details, backgrounds, and accomplishments of your team and its key strategic partners and managers.
This will help communicate why your team is up for the job that your business plan envisions. Plus, if there are other roles you need to create or fill, you can work with your plan writer to show that you are aware of how your business will be scaling headcount accordingly.
6. The time and money you have personally invested
When you work with a business plan writer, you talk through what you envision, and then the writer expands on it. Discussing business isn’t just about your team, employees, competitors, or suppliers though.
It’s also about you. Business owners and entrepreneurs can be prone to downplaying, or even forgetting to account for, their own sweat equity, time, and commitment to starting or growing the business.
“Talk about the money and time you have already put into the business,” explains David. “Whoever reviews your business plan, wants and needs to know that you have invested in the business.”
The more a potential investor or stakeholder understands, can relate to, and identifies with your commitment, the more that can inspire or persuade them to back your business too.
7. Dust off your big picture
Your business plan will likely have some crucial details, such as financial projections or details about certain plans or operations. Those are important. But your business plan is also an opportunity to dream big. In the ceaseless work of starting, running, or growing a business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big dream that made you want to start your business in the first place.
Your business plan brings you back to that big-picture moment. You can also look at it from a new perspective. Wherever you are now on your business journey, you can examine that big vision through the lens of more experience, knowledge, and direction.
While this work can prepare your business plan writer, it provides another benefit: It re-centers and re-inspires you too.
8. Be involved throughout the plan development process
A common myth of working with a business plan writer is that the business owner entrepreneur doesn’t need to provide any input or make decisions regarding their business models.
Yes, a savvy business plan writer can work with a high degree of independence, so you can take care of your own tasks. However, they’ll still need input from you throughout the business plan writing process, and that’s a good thing.
“It is not a passive process,” says David. “The reality is that it is vital to be as involved in the process as possible. This is important to ensure that the plan represents your vision. Plus, you can avoid being caught flatfooted when a lender or investor asks you a question about the business plan.”
When a client maintains input and involvement in the business planning process, they wind up with a stronger business plan, and they are more prepared to advocate for their vision and enterprise.
“The client must be engaged throughout the process and understand how their plan was built and what is inside it,” says David.
Treat your business plan writer like a partner
The better you prepare, the better your business plan writer can develop the right plan for you to start or evolve your operation. You and your plan writer can work as partners. They help you lay the groundwork for the living document that can guide your business and help you secure the resources you need to make your vision a reality.
“It’s not just submitting a form or doing basic inputs,” says David. “This is more like a consultation so you can get to the best on-paper version of the business.”