Business planBusiness plans are a very important part of any entrepreneur’s startup.  If you are looking for partners or funding they are going to want to see a solid plan.  Even if you’re on your own and don’t feel that your business needs a formal business plan, it’s a good idea to do some research and write down some kind of plan before you get started.

If you’re trying now to become self-employed for the first time, you won’t be able to do this career right away, since you are just now getting experience with writing your first business plan.  If you are already self-employed, though, and have written formal business plans before, you could offer your services as a consultant for entrepreneurs that need help.

The Good

If you like entrepreneurship, you’ll love this job.  You’ll be researching, planning and writing just as if you were starting your own businesses over and over again.  Also, hopeful entrepreneurs usually have a certain energy and optimism that makes them fun to work with.

The Bad

Your clients’ hopes and dreams are going to be riding on your shoulders.  A poor business plan can lead to a business’s failure, which is a huge deal to your client.  You’re going to be under a lot of pressure to write a great plan.

Education / Skills required

You don’t necessarily need a business degree, but any education will help.  Of course, the best education is often experience; you need business development experience and practice with the following skills:

  • Researching markets and competition
  • Developing marketing plans
  • Forecasting financial needs and profits
  • Handling legal and insurance aspects for a new business

Again, experience is the best teacher.  If you have started a business (or multiple businesses) yourself you will be familiar with these skills.

Equipment / Tools required

You can write all your business plans in a word processor, such as Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.  However, you may want to invest in some business plan software, such as Business Plan Pro.  Business plan software will provide you with a common outline that covers all the points you need.  After adding all the required information, the software will give you a neatly formatted, finished business plan.  This saves you a lot of time that you’d otherwise spend formatting and making everything look nice in your word processor.


You can run this business from your home, but may have to visit clients sometimes.  If you have a convincing web site, you might get clients from all over the country or world.

Startup costs

If you already have a computer and everything you need for a home office, your startup costs will be minimal.  You can buy business plan software for about $200 or less.

You’ll need to spend money on promoting yourself, such as building a web site, advertising in local business or trade publications, etc.

Legal / Insurance issues

Your clients will want to sign Non-disclosure Agreements (NDA) with you to protect their ideas.  These agreements basically mean that you won’t steal your client’s idea and use it for your own gain.

You need to make sure you cannot be held liable for any failed businesses.  If you write a business plan and your client then fails to start or sustain that business, they could try to sue you.  Make sure you sign legal contracts with your clients that indemnify you from any blame.

How to start

Start with a web site that describes your services and includes past examples of business plans you have written (change the real names and data to protect your clients’ privacy).  Emphasize your strong points, such as “fast turn-around time,” “affordable pricing,” or “95% of my clients’ businesses are still going strong today.”

Place ads in the yellow pages under “Business Consultants” or “Business Development.”  Advertise on local small business’s web sites.  Contact your local chamber of commerce for possible leads or advertising opportunities.  Ask your friends and satisfied clients to spread the word.

Potential clients

Hopeful entrepreneurs will be your main clients.  You might also find work with existing small businesses that are looking for financing, because they will need a solid business plan to present to lenders.


You might be able to charge a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars for each business plan, depending on the size of the projects.  Try to find the prices of the competitors in your area.  When you’re first starting out, you can charge less than them to win some customers and build experience.

Some clients may be hesitant to pay you thousands of dollars for a business plan.  Remind these clients that you have a lot of experience and can probably write the plan in much less time than they would.

Further reading