Most startups see their consulting business plan as nothing but a pain in the behind. Everyone's become so stressed about perfecting their plans that they've lost sight of the true benefits of having a business plan.
A business plan is not about saying the right things to get funded, it's not about ticking a box to say you have one, and it's not even about the document. You've missed the point entirely if you've completed your business plan by rote and left it on the shelf to gather dust.
A consulting business plan is an exploration of your vision for your business and a roadmap to guide all your decision making processes. It should include:
Your vision; your ultimate goals
The market you want to serve; the needs of the marketplace
How you're going to differentiate your services to meet those needs
The costs involved in producing your product, servicing your clients, and any other expenses you anticipate
The milestones that will take you from A-Z
If you're starting a business as a consultant then it's unlikely that you're applying for funding - if you are, why are you? Investors often require a more traditional business plan, but this should be created after you've been through the creative process of building the roadmap for your business. It doesn't have to be written, you can diagram it if you prefer. All you need is a documented aid to stay on track which can develop alongside your business.
Here are the three steps that you need to take to end up with a solid consulting business plan.
Take Some Time Out to Reflect on Your Business - All the information you need is in your head. You've been thinking and dreaming about this business probably for years. Lay aside some time where you won't be distracted by anything else – two days to a week is enough. Just set the goal and get it done.
Getting the Business Plan Out of Your Head - An initial brain dump is always a good start. Crystallizing your thoughts is a crucial process. It forces you to identify what your hopes and dreams are so that you can consider them further in a rational way. Make sure you examine every assumption that you've made and back up the details with research. Hopefully you'll end up with a heap of information including diagrams, charts, pictures, images and text.
Create a Cohesive Plan With All the Information You Have - Once you've got all of your information together it’s time to distil it down to the most salient points. Often consultants decide to outsource this process. I know this as I’ve written enough of them on their behalf! I think this is a mistake. It’s essential to feel connected to and buy into the content of the document. You creating it almost always guarantees that.
If it’s your first time writing a consulting business plan or you’re in need of some guidance and inspiration, then I suggest that you follow the structure of one of these two books:
The One Page Business Plan for the Professional Consultant by James T. Horan
The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success by Jennifer Lee
If you’re generally left-brained you'll still get a lot from Jennifer Lee's book. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone helps to create the living breathing document that you want to manage your business.
Are you having issues pulling together your consulting business plan? If so, let us know what’s troubling you in the Comments section below and we’ll see if we can help get you unstuck.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free copy of the special report on How to Start a Computer Consulting Business: 6 Proven Ways to Build Your Initial Client Base.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Michell Zappa
Topics:- Computer Consulting Business