Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

10 Questions Before Hiring a Business Plan Writer 7

No, it’s not that I have anything against business plan writers for hire. I spent some years doing that, although I never just wrote the plan; I always facilitated and translated and coached planning. (Unless, of course, you’ve read my post on my worst business plan engagement, in which case you’ll know I’ve used “never” and “always” wrong in the above).

  1. If you wanted to get your body in shape, would you hire somebody else to eat better and exercise regularly?
  2. How would you feel about sending somebody else to the doctor to be examined to determine your health?
  3. How do you feel about pre-packaged vacations?
  4. What would you tell your ghost writer? How long would that take you? Could you type that out, maybe? Could you do it in YouTube?
  5. How will you deal with questions that come up, after the plan is done?
  6. How much good will a single one-time plan document do you?
  7. What will you do about revisions later on? Will you just accept a plan done once, and never revise?
  8. How long would you estimate is the average shelf life of a written business plan, before it begs for revisions?
  9. What would you do about regularly reviewing and revising a business plan that some outside business plan writer had written?
  10. How would you get a team of people committed to a business plan that an outsider wrote?

(Photo credit: Linn Currie/Shutterstock)

  • http://www.skimzone.com/ Nicole

    I’ve been humming and hawing for some time now about the merits of writing my own business plan vs having it written for me. Even though it’s something I really don’t want to do and keep putting aside… I know it’s very important to my success and I just haven’t been able to justify having someone else do it. After reading your post here, it really strikes a clear chord with me that yes, it is MY business, therefore it is I who should be making the plan. Thanks for helping make the decision! I’ll definitely be checking your site back for more information as I go!

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  • http://www.versa-flex.com Larry Nolan

    Mr. Berry,
    I manufacture camera bags, gear bags,etc. just “no clothing”.
    I have been in business about 17 years & have struggled for all 17. I know my strength is in manufacturing a great product, but my weakness is business itself. I am lousy at it. I have tried a partner, but it just put me in a deep financial hole. I dug out of that one, and put myself in another. I own almost all of your software programs from the mid 90′s till 07?. In every case I stop because i cannot comprehend what you are asking. I have asked some people for help, but It just doesn’t register especially when it comes to numbers.
    I have had business coaches (2) with no luck. went to the “Executive Stratagies Course” in Cleveland.( it was an expensive multi week joke session). My accountant wants $1500.00 to write one, all I want is to be able to understand one. I am 53, and maybe I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, I don’t think I am the dullest. any Suggs?

    Larry Nolan
    President
    Versa-Flex,Inc.

    • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

      Larry,

      My planning advice is simplify. Focus on planning as a process, to steer the business, not as a document. Take a look at http://planasyougo.com to get the idea. Don’t worry about the great big full formal plan, but what you need to run the business better. Strategy is as much what you don’t do as what you do, and look at milestones as dates and deadlines, and for financials, if that’s not your strong point, try to do a sales forecast and expense budget and then start tracking month by month how you’re doing with those two elements. Don’t even print it unless you have to.

      My business advice is to contact a nearby Small Business Development Center (SBDC). There are about 1,000 SBDCs in the U.S., and they are in general good people, well trained, and supported by government funding so they don’t have to charge that much to offer courses, one-on-one counseling, and a lot of help. Our local SBDC in Eugene (OR) is great, and I know a lot of them throughout the country.

      Also, consider building a team. No one person has to be good at all phases of the business. You have to be good at something — really good — to last 17 years. I do see here that you tried a partner and that didn’t work, but if I never tried anything again after it didn’t work the first time, I would have been out of business a long time ago.

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  • http://jherter.wordpress.com Jim Herter

    No doubt the Irish will need it!

  • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

    Jim, thanks for that comment, and delighted to see that BPP is still working for you. And go Irish for this weekend against USC.

  • http://jherter.wordpress.com Jim Herter

    Tim:

    Very good points. What I’ve found since I first used BPP at the University of Notre Dame (thanks again for your graciousness) and subsequently with my own businesses is that there are many entrepreneurs amongst us who lack the confidence to take the next step — writing their business plan. Often, whether real or simply an excuse, these people lack the time and/or confidence to undertake the writing portion of the plan or the learning of the BPP software.

    And to a degree I can sympathize. My analogy is: I’m a great guitarist who never could quite master the instrument, so the song stays stuck in my head! My point being that I have always been fairly adept at writing lucidly and succinctly, but not everyone can do that. Sometimes all that is needed to get my clients to move off the mark is their trust that they can convey their thoughts to me and I then can document for them.

    So the value that I provide is the coaching ability to motivate, or at least instill the confidence in, my clients to get their ideas — even if in outline form — on paper. From there I use BPP to form the first and ultimately final draft of the initial business plan. But initially and ultimately I make it clear that it is ‘Their’ business plan. And I use your wisdom and let them know that the “business plan is wrong as soon as it is written!” And with that (this will keep the Palo Alto shareholders happy) I also am very insistent that my clients purchase a copy of BPP to maintain and alter the plan over time — it is after all never a static document, yet an organic and living plan.

  • http://www.stratgrow.com Strategic Growth Advisors

    Direct, frank and purposeful — yet delivered in such a way that makes the reader want to finish the whole list. Thanks, Tim. I got reeled in after reading item number 2. Man, that’s quite funny AND logical.