Is the business plan writing service industry lucrative right now? If so, who is the new target market for business plans?
Does it make sense to stay as a business plan writer?
I love what I do, but it seems that I am not in the sweet spot for finding clients right now....any suggestions?
Business plan writing is a commodity service. The skills you need to write a such actually are not so high. What you actually need is a bit of accounting theory, a bit of strategic analysis (just the basics, say SWOT, PESTEL and rarely Porter 5F or BCG), some business style slang and that's all. Besides, on the Internet there are plenty of them, so as far as you know the copy/paste command you could be a qualified business plan writer. There are even sites that are offering automated business plans writing by using templates. Like Lego.
On the other hand, there is quite a big demand from different fund raisers, mainly in the US. This demand is taken by Indian guys who offer something like $3 per hour (I have recently seen a standard offer - $150 per 35 pages plan and $400 for 90 pages from an Indian consultancy company.
The supply is really high as is the demand, that's why I meant this is a commodity. You will have work, but on a low price, so you could never have enough of value added to progress fast. This is like selling corn. Commodity.
Business plan has always been a lucrative industry and it has been offered as if I'm not mistaken people started thinking about ways to make a living.
Companies such as the Big four does offer Business planning/prospective forecasting information or described as something else as part of non-auditing services to listed company`s and so
Small companies such as my self due offer Business plan to clients in support of proposal for fund/tenant/charity and so on
Business plan can not stand alone as a companies primary service its mostly a secondary service,thus not a dying trade as some would suggest
I will share with you a little about my love (which some call it "job") and vision on what you plan to do.
I work as an adviser, coach and mentor for C-Level, VPs and entrepreneurs worldwide. My service is quite different from everything you will see in the market, because I use a high quality mix of psychotherapy and pure strategy to help executive leaders take their business to a whole new level while driving their personal and professional life to excellence.
I first described what I do to explain you with clearance what are the many perspectives around your idea from my clients perspective.
A Business Plan is very important to every kind of business, simply by the fact that it is the formalisation of an intention to turn an idea into a product or service. Without it there's no business, just because you don't have the psychological control of what, when and how your doing and going to.
But it is not the whole figure. A Business Plan is just a first step of many different aspects of a business life. My clients, for example, need to know their business competitive advantage, limitations, potential and define a real strategy (not as 93% of the worldwide market believe they do). And where is the Business Plan in this picture? The Business Plan as the market know it serves only to clarify that lots of ideas and concerns that are in our minds as entrepreneurs. So, the real impact that a work like just writing a Business Plan do not solve the problems of your client, it just clarify how things seems to be from your perspective and, with a little touch of emotional intelligence to interpret signs, also from your client perspective.
What you are proposing to offer to the market is:
1. A solution that will address a mere 3% of all business problems for the medium and long run; or
2. A solution that will address 100% of all business concerns for the next few days.
Looking from this perspective, you can see that what you are offering is not much attractive just because it don't address the most crucial concerns of the market for the medium and long run, or because it don't address it for more than a few days, when your clients major concerns will be far from Business Plan itself.
If you want real success, increment your idea with something that will really address the critical concerns of your clients for the medium and long run in a way that they reach the results in an effective and efficient manner for a good price.
Mia, I think it is a tough business because those that need it don't usually have the money to pay for it. The best place to start is an executive summary and a pitch deck. See Executive Summaries & Business Plans on audible.com and staples.com, we did them at Simply Magazine and they are only a few dollars due to the volume--and! people have to work this out themselves. As Deacon said, these people need consulting to get a business together before even attempting a plan.
If all you're offering are business plans then you're probably too narrow in your scope of services. The skills to do business plan writing are diverse so you may want to consider smaller writing projects to get your foot in the door with clients.
I don't sense that the market is any less lucrative than prior years. Perhaps software programs have cut into your business. Truth is most people who use those either really know what they're doing or they don't have a clue. There seems to be no middle ground. So you occupy that middle space.
Your website said you do lots of start-ups. Typically, they don't have the money to afford a business plan - at least that's what they think. My guess is you have a marketing and sales problem. Focus on small, but existing businesses where the chaos and confusion due to the absence of a cohesive plan is costing them revenues and running up expenses. When you can demonstrate the overwhelming value of a business plan, you'll be getting paid a fair dollars for your skills.
Business plans - we have a free business plan writer and people do not use it much so no one actually sees the sense and value in a real business plan, we even have a financials generator that is beyond awesome so I think the day of the business plan is dying, it is about sales and profitability and return on investment
I don't think people are actively seeking out Business Plan "writers" per se, which is unfortunate as there are a lot of people I've met who are starting a business without any understanding of everything that entails. Often, startups - new business owners - people looking to make the move from inventor to entrepreneur are looking for someone to help give them guidance and direction. The business plan is a small part of that. Often groups like SCORE and others solve the mentor issue and there are many retired business professionals who give new startups this information for nothing (aside from the opportunity to have their hand in the game again, even if only for a brief while).
Business Plan Writing is as lucrative as the network you create and the contacts/referrals you can garner. It's kind of like a job search... posting your availability is rarely (if ever) as effective as getting a direct referral from someone. Go to startup meetings, new tech meetings, small business associations and Chamber of Commerce groups. Establish yourself and your reputation. Sometimes (especially in the beginning) this means you have to eat some costs (mainly your time and effort) and deliver a few pro-bono or low-cost solutions to people. The return on your investment in effort and time will be solid referrals and client testimonials.
As you stated, you're not int he "sweet spot" for finding clients. The best thing you can do is make it easy for clients to find you. Grow your personal brand as much as possible. Start a blog, write for trade publications (often the pay for articles is low-to-nothing, but the return is you start to become noticed). Consider which market segments you're most drawn to and intrigued by ad establish a strong presence in those markets. A "jack-of-all-trades" is rarely as appreciated as a master of a few...
TL:DR (too long, didn't read) -
1. Find your focus
2. Market your personal brand
3. Make it easy for clients to find you (write articles, tweet interesting information, give away the free info anyone can find online but deliver it in more palatable chunks so someone doesn't have to search a lot.
4. The simpler you make it for someone to find you and see who you are and what you do, the more you'll find clients coming to you