What type of expert would I hire to help with business projections and/or business plan?
I have a start up business offering blogging services to photographers and creative professionals - http://fotoskribe.com/ - The business started quickly and is growing fast, but I want to put some projections and goals in place, but numbers are not my thing. Who would help with those things? An accountant, business coach? Thank you in advance for any help and ideas!
Your best bet is a financial professional who has had experience preparing this for businesses. Since you are a small start up, you need a professional who can do the job as a finance outsourcing.
It seems that you have already received a lot of great advice here already so I will make my response brief. Your best best is to seek out a business consultant, preferably one with prior experience in your category.
What about SCORE? Has anyone referred or used their services and had great results?
As a serial entrepreneur, former ad agency owner, investor, and advisor, unless you're putting together a private placement to raise money, I would stay away from CPAs and attorneys for this. I would seek out someone who understands financial modeling, as well as sales and business development. Let me know if you need some help and I can point you in the right direction. Dave Cochran, Seattle
Whoever you choose, be it an accountant or an inside partner, make sure you trust their work, and most importantly that understand how the numbers are being generated. so you can understand profitability from your revenue stream...Think Sales, Profits and Employees in Balance
Richard Stern-Suggest you hire a Business Consultant who works in your niche in your industry.
That person would be familiar with the nuances of your niche and be more sensitive to the business conditions that would affect your business.
Furthermore, as to financial projections this person would have experience with other companies in your industry and would be able to guide you as to product costing and margins that would effect budgets and projections.
Check the Services offered there beside the business and financial planning software. Also Business Coaching on a monthly subscription basis starting at $49. BTW, eventually you will have to learn some financials because you cannot rely on 3rd party for everything relating to money. Strange you did not visit the PlanMagic web site.
A CPA with a background in business valuation is an excellent source. Business Appraisers with a designation such as CVA, ABV and ASA could also assist you with these questions.
Apart from the accountant and lawyer, have you thought about asking a successful entrepreneur/business owner in your circle. Also as you mentioned numbers are not your thing, try and find someone who can explain numbers in a way you can understand. After all it is your money you will be spending. Kudos on starting your venture and to your continued success.
Whilst biased, I would definitely make use of a good accountant together with legal and marketing experts. Quality accountants have years of experience in developing, business plans, cashflow projections and understanding business drivers across all industries. Granted we are not known for our entrepreneurial or marketing flare however as we are in business for ourselves we do have these skills or we hire them in to ensure our businesses succeed.
We at PB Advisory Group pride ourselves in partnering with small business owners to help them succeed.
Great success ahead! The best expert to help you with the projections are finance consultants or CFO services. These experts are excellent choice for your projection needs and for future needs such as:
When the numbers get too complex.
When you need to have detailed financial data to make critical business decisions.
When you need to increase your net profit.
When you need loans from banks or VCs to fund projects.
When you want to draft a plan to increase revenue and manage expenses.
When you wish to know the financial ratios to effectively manage your business.
When you have other matters to worry about.
When you need to have a professional dealing with banks, suppliers and shareholders.
Please let me know if i can answer any more questions you may have.
Rachel and others...this is a matter of 'you don't know what you don't know. And what I mean by that is - there are specific questions you should be answering in order to get to the end result you are looking for. It sounds as if you need someone who can ask the right questions. I personally have used my accountant/CFO - who is very strategic yet can get tactical, as she works in my field. However, not all accountants do, so I would wait on this.
I would then look for either or mix of a business consultant and coach...one who doesn't necessarily work in your exact field, but has worked with enough businesses to know the questions to ASK because as others said below, you need to be the expert in answering them. Consultants are known for 'telling' you, but find the right one, and they will ask the questions needed for you to get to your information.
Not sure where or what a lawyer will do for you...My first suggestion would be to google - how to calculate my financial projections. You will find sites such as http://www.bplans.com/. Get versed on what it is you need first, even try it yourself first, then seek out experts.
Feel free to check out my profile if I can help in any way.
It's been my experience in the work that I do, that many CPAs are reticent to get into doing projections due to AICPA (which is the relevant overseeing body, since you are in MA) rules that govern "financial statements" that CPAs produce & the standards CPAs must meet in order to prepare them (some cannot meet the burdens of peer review, etc or do not like the exposure that preparing financial statements exposes them to). Some CPAs feel comfortable doing some projections work because they don't feel they are preparing financial statements, but the tendency of accountants is to CYA. With that said, accounting is generally reporting transactions that have already happened in the appropriate boxes (on a financial statement, tax return, etc). It's more of a historical perspective: looking at what has happened and trying to turn it into useful information. Those with financial and/or economic backgrounds are typically better suited to analysis with a future perspective (forward-looking). Hope that is helpful. I agree with Peter and Jeff that you need someone who is willing and able to walk through the numbers and their impact (because that is what you are really after) with you and help You Understand it. It is important for you to surround yourself with a team of people that have strengths that are not the same as yours! That allows you to lean some on them (If you Trust them) and learn from them.
I would suggest someone work works with process improvement Lean Six Sigma Methodology as we love analytic's and have advanced training in best practices / cost analysis, and KPI's
Accountants typically aren't much chop at figuring out entrepreneurial ventures, sadly.
Plans are all about customers and the services/products you are going to make revenue from. How will you build this business? What are the risks (people, tech development, manufacturing, finance, market) and how will you mitigate them? What will the cash flow look like? (Do you know how to build a dynamically driven cash flow model you can use to scenario plan? If not, find someone who can, get them to build it with your heavily involved input and learn how to drive it. You'll learn more about your "business" in a few hours playing with the model and where the risks really sit. )
Have you even evaluated whether there is a real, viable and accessible opportunity?
The best advice you can get is from someone who has done it before - someone who has raised money, shown strategic nimbleness to adapt to changing circumstances and delivered successfully. In the end to is all about executing a strategy that works.
Templates and software are at best a good head start. Familiarise yourself with the contents and adapt to your circumstance.
before you hire anyone check out the Australian governments site for on business plans it has some great templates and information it will help you work out what you need http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/templates-and-downloads/Pages/default.aspx
A good Chartered Accountant and a good lawyer are two mandatory requirements- they will help you with your bussiness projections and your statutory/ legal compliances
I'd suggest an accountant, business coach and business lawyer, and possibly commercial insurance agent, if you don't have insurance already. I'm a business coach and would be happy to help you, both in terms of connecting you to resources and other people, as well as taking a free look at what you are seeking to do with your business.
I also know someone who specializes in helping people get bank loans through business plans, which might be useful for you.
I'd also suggest thinking beyond just goals and really examining what you will need to change about your business to handle the continuing growth.
Feel free to contact me if you want any further advice or help.