In my post here yesterday I started to answer “what should I pay a consultant to develop a business plan for my company?” My first take was about the need for planning process and living with your plan over the long term. The key thought there was:
So my first answer to this question is this: don’t pay a consultant to develop a business plan. Do it yourself.
Still, if you’re busy, and you believe in division of labor, and you don’t want to do the plan yourself, this doesn’t really answer the question. So this is part 2 of my answer.
1. The one-time business plan document
Let’s assume for a moment that you want exactly what I say is the wrong thing: somebody to write a 10-20-page document you can call your business plan. There’s no concern about actually planning your business. You don’t want advice or guidance or second opinions, just a damn document. You don’t think anybody’s going to read it anyhow.
For that, find a good freelance business plan writer and good luck. Pay somewhere between $400 and $1, 000. Figure the time involved is some listening to you, some shuffling your past papers around, and some writing. It’s a day or two of work.
I just checked average freelancer rates on freelanceswitch. It looks like writers get about $50 per hour, give or take. So $1, 000 buys you about 20 hours for an average business writer. $500 buys you 10 hours.
And if you want spreadsheet knowledge double the price, and if you want financial knowledge and understanding, triple it.
Get very specific with the consultant: what services are you buying? Interviewing you? Reviewing your documents? Writing your document? Projecting your financials?
2. Business plan help, coaching, and facilitation
The good news in this case is now we’re talking about real business planning to really help you manage your business. This kind of consultant will work with you as much as for you, and help you create your plan based on your goals and resources. Let’s hope you get somebody who will help you build a planning process that generates a living plan that can be reviewed and revised regularly.
This consultant won’t just write a document for you, because that doesn’t work; but he or she will help you do it in a way that will work. Experience in this field is valuable. Don’t reinvent wheels and learn everything the hard way. Get somebody to accelerate that learning.