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?
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
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.
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 you're an independent business plan writer, then you probably want to branch out and write more materials for businesses such as marketing plans, brochures, and other information. Companies now have the ability to use business plan writing apps such as enLoop and Stratpad which offer many more features, interactive sharing and other features at a very low cost. The need for independent business plan writers is decreasing.
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.
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
What I have seen is a big push not necessarily away from business plans but rather a shifting of when people are developing them. They seem to be being developed later down the road, not as the starting point for new ventures.
I've come across a lot of people who are big fans of the LEAN methodology, or the 1 hour business plan. A down and dirty basic plan that an entrepreneur can test and then pivot as need be until they get the traction they are looking for. This is an art in an of itself, but in a way, moves the need for a formal business plan further down the path for a start up or business.
If I were you I'd take the advice people have given and add services that compliment your business plan writing and development. Offer Business Model consulting, marketing plan development, etc. Offer the elements of the business plan individually and then, down the road, if the client wishes, put it all together in a pretty bundle and tie it with a bow. They'll have ended up with a business plan without even knowing that what they were doing.
Yes, if you serve the right market. Investors and lenders require a business plan that will give them a good idea of the economic value and competitive advantage of the business to be financed. So an enterprise needs a business plan to be able to source funding . A good market for writing business plans are SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and start-ups that need an effective business plan. You will find SMEs in trade fairs, or in the listing of new businesses in your local chambers of commerce or your local business registry. Investees, on the other hand, can be found in various business incubation centers in your country. Usually, these are tied up with academic institutions related to business development and management.
Business Model Canvas has really made business plan writing services a difficult field to be in. Some young entrepreneurs are going into business with simply an idea and enough money to get it done or enough money so they think they can get it done. Sadly, sustainability isn't even an afterthought for young start-ups with a great deal of cash to burn threw.
Maybe talk to old clients, see if any of your specialties are still needed.. or if they know any people that are looking for your services.
it's a difficult question to answer not knowing your past business affairs.
I'd also recommend Business Model You.
-Business plans are so personal and require information that is from the internal workings of the companies. It requires the some of the knowledge of pending changes and twist that a company may have on the radar. When we would write business plans, there was always a contingency plan to deal with the unknowns and surprises that may come our way. Only an inside person would have the knowledge to make such an elaborate plan.
Jerry M. Graves
Mental Toughness/Critical Thinking Speaker/Coach
Mia, so long as companies are starting up and existing companies are moving from one stage to another in their biz development -there will always be a market for business plan writing .THe thing is for you to be creative in the way you package your services especially to your identified target market
Yes it is, of course to those that have the right contacts in their network. I do a lot of Business development for different companies, and what I found is that many people like myself ,and companies I do business with need someone that can write our ideas/business palns in a professional way. In other words we lack the writing skills. I'm very good at what I do, but I always needed to put my ideas, plans, reports on paper, so having someone good in your industry is very important to me, and many people that I have dealt with in the past.
What I have done , and encourage many to do the same, is to form a group of business people that offer different services. In one of my groups I have real estate investors, builders, renovation companies, real estate people, banks, high end homes, lawyers, business plan writers,marketing company, moulding company and those that have access to investors worldwide. The reason I created this group ,was because I heard them all crying the blues, that business is not the way it used to be,blah blah blah, now we have created a network that believes that a shared deal is better than no deal, one has the investor, the other has the building and so on. My advise to you is to create a network of businesses that are crying the blues ( not hard to find) bring them together, have one of them pick up the luncheon bill, :) , present the vision and offer your services to them. People are good at some things but not everything, I love to have someone in your kind of business working WITH me, but best is to have one local. So create a local network you want to service and make it happen, I did and does not have to be real estate, investors. Networking is the way to go these days and make sure you can offer a great product and have the passion for it ( which I believe you do) After all my writing you will notice I desperately need someone like you, people need YOU Mia, go and get them.
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
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.
Right now, business writing plans are not at the top of the list of those movers and shakers. Right now we have lenders looking for that perfect credit before lending and we all know that the ones who will need business plan writing are those with less than perfect credit. Unless lenders relax their standards to lending, new businesses will stay dormant. The target audience for business plan writing would be those into secondary education.
I should think, what with the influx of start-ups, solo entrepreneurs would be a target-rich environment for someone with your skills.
Where would I find them? Business incubators (we have several here in Albuquerque for both the tech and non-tech industries), LinkedIn groups (assuming you can offer your services virtually), and through your local Chamber(s) of Commerce. I'd also search out business coaches who counsel but don't write. You might be able to partner with them if they have clients who are starting new businesses.
I will support Deacon's observation. The major portion of the benefit to a business plan is the process of its development. There is a learning that takes place during the development process that needs to experienced by the business owner. If you rephrase your question to "Does it make sense to stay as a business plan consultant or facilitator" I would say yes. This role is greatly needed.
To find clients I suggest starting a blog where you can tell "war stories" about your experiences and you can provide content related to tips and advice. Giving you prospective market a sample of what value you can add is a great way to draw attention to yourself. Share the blog postings on facebook, twitter, linkedin. (I assume you are a LinkedIn user, this is a very powerful tool for attracting business)
By being willing to share your knowledge it shows confidence in what you value you can bring to the project. Remember in many cases, your client may have no business plann experience and you are perceived as the expert.
The Marketing industry is a target market sinceit needs to know what are the clients that are interested on the product that is going to be commercialiazed.
Mia, having read the responses from the excellent professionals in this group, I would agree that they are on-point with their comments. Business plan writing has lost its luster over the past few years. The truth be known if a business does not have an active and progressive business plan, they most likely could not afford to pay you for one and most likely won’t be around too long.
However, you can still utilize your expertise in this field by repackaging yourself as a business to business writer. This field is currently very wide open and good writers are actively sought by companies. They need your experience and expertise to write ad copy, case studies, white papers, blogs, E-books, manuals, newsletters and the list goes on.
Take a little time and probe some of the companies out there and see if they are presenting something that you can present better. Write a good sales letter selling yourself to them as a writer who can meet their needs.
Mia Business plan writing service industry was there before 20 or thirty years ,that time people were not able to get knowledge regarding any issue so they used to ask for it , but now a days its totally different with the huge social media net work .
that was first point - second point -your clients very limited because of the human nature - any one needs business plan will hire the person who can work as an employee , for period of time or permanent ,only few clients for say private reasons may ask for your services . , I advise you to change to business consultant at least you can offer your services on particular issue .