#013: Writing Business Plans: The Opportunity for Business Writers

Did you know that entrepreneurs are willing to pay writers $3,000 – $6,000 (and even more!) to write a business plan for them?

There are many reasons why. But one of the most important is that most banks and investors need to see a well-written business plan before they even consider investing in a business.

My guest for this episode is Jessica Oman, founder of Write Ahead and an expert on writing business plans. In this interview, Jessica explains the opportunity in writing business plans for clients.

She details the basic elements of a business plan:

  • What you can charge
  • The demand for these services
  • How to get clients
  • And what type of writer is best suited for this work

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

 

About This Show

The High-Income Business Writing podcast is a production of B2B Biz Launcher. It’s designed for business writers and copywriters who want to propel their writing business to the six-figure level (or the part-time equivalent).

To learn more about the opportunity in writing business plans for clients — I interview Jessica Oman for this episode of The High Income Business Writing podcast.

Jessica is the owner of Write Ahead a business writing firm that specalizes in writing business plans for start-ups and also teaches other business owners to write their own business plans.

In this episode, Jessica explains what a business plan is and what it is used for by business owners.

What is a Business Plan? Who Uses Them? What Are They Used For?

Traditionally a business plan has been used to get a loan from a bank or attract financial investors to start or grow a company.

A business plan is a road map for start-up success. It guides your operations, provides metrics to benchmark your progress, outlines your goals and objectives and defines your ideal customer by putting all the parts and components into one place. The document guides the business owner as the business grows and helps them stay on track when they are trying to make important decisions. It is dynamic, can be referred to and revised as needed.

Basic Elements of a Business Plan

There are five major components of any business plan.

  1. Customer – The most important element is defining your ideal customer
    – Who is buying?
    – Who is your perfect customer?
  1. The Market/Industry
    – How many of your ideal customers exist?
    – How much potential is there in the market place?
    – Where are they?
    – Who else is targeting them?
  2. People
    – Who is managing your company?
    – Can the business owner run it? If not, who will fill in the gaps?
    – How much staff do you need?
  3. Money
    – Where is it coming from?
    – How much can you make?
    – What does running the business cost?
       Staff, tools, rent, systems, fees, etc.
  1. Format
    – How are you presenting your business plan?
    – Depends on your audience

Once each of the five elements are defined, the business plan isn’t always a document. For visual people it could be a collage, a vision board or even a collection of post it notes. For others it will be a more formal document.

While all of this can seem intimidating, it actually is very exciting and motivating, because you’re working on defining your ideal client and the potential of your business.

Length and Cost of Having a Business Plan Written

The length of the plan will vary depending on what it will be used for. If it is an internal guideline then it typically will be less than 20 pages. If it is going to be used to present to a bank or investors 20-30 pages is typical.

No one has the time to read a lengthy business plan. The sections that a bank or investors will focus on are the Executive Summary, Cash Flow, Market Research, and Management Overview. These sections tell them what they need to know to be able to make a decision.

Jessica has a basic template for writing a business plan, but every business plan is different. Every business is a puzzle starting with 5-7 sections and then it is customized for each one.

Starting from scratch a basic business plan starts at $3,000.00. The cost includes all the research and follow-up which includes these items and sometimes more:

  1. Help figure out strategy
  2. Background research
  3. Complexity of business model
  4. Number of products – each has to be evaluated
  5. Multiple locations – research is necessary to figure out what the demand would be for each location
  6. How much funding will be needed?

Business plans can go up to $6,000.00-$7,000.00 depending on the audience requirements and the amount of money needed for a loan.

Write Ahead works with start-ups or any business that is about to undergo a financial transition.

What Are Clients Looking For in Their Business Plan Writer?

Are they looking for a writer or a consultant?

Many of Jessica’s clients are immigrants and need someone to write the plan in a clear, concise, understandable and grammatically correct way. They have the business knowledge and they can provide the content. In this case, this type of client is looking for a writer.

Others that don’t have any financial knowledge or need strategic and consulting

help come to Jessica for help too. In this case, she sometimes teams up with others who have the expertise in those areas. This type of client is looking for a consultant.

Can Writing Business Plans Be One of Many Services a Writer Can Offer?

Ideally to be an expert at writing business plans, you need to be comfortable advising business owners in the different component areas or knowing someone that can help you.

To gain that experience, you can start by writing reviews and offering editing services for existing business plans. This way you can acquire essential business knowledge by reading what others have already written. You’ll start to notice patterns and gain a lot of knowledge about writing them.

Additionally, because writing business plans is so specialized sometimes it is better to simply offer reciprocal services with your connections.

What type of writer is best suited for this?

A writer who is very detail oriented with strong research skills; someone who is really good at digging up data and statistics. A life-long learner who loves to discover new information and read.

The Intangibles That Keep You Going

The most exciting thing about writing a business plan is seeing the grand opening of the business. While the entrepreneur takes the business plan to the bank and they execute the plan, being involved in the foundation is extremely rewarding. Being able to work into the brick and mortar or buy something online is really exciting knowing you contributed to making it possible.

How many plans can you have in the works at one time?

Jessica works with a colleague who handles the financial projections while she handles the writing and strategy sections of the plans. They have found that 12

business plans in the works at once is the maximum number they can handle. Twelve sounds like a lot, but they have been preparing business plans for a long time now and have everything streamlined and have become very efficient.

Training Program for How to Write Business Plans

The training program was inspired by potential clients who couldn’t afford to work with Jessica. Consequently, she started the program as a starting point with them in mind. It helps them work on the concept of their business and to understand their ideal customer. It guides them through the process, so they can create a complete and well-researched business plan to be to the banks or financial investors.

 

Items mentioned in this Podcast include:

 


 

Want More of This Stuff?

Want to get more tips and strategies for boosting your writing income? There are three ways you can enjoy these tips and strategies, share them with friends and help me grow this movement to banish the starving writer syndrome:

  1. Sign up for this podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
  1. Subscribe to this podcast through the Podcast app on your iPhone or Android phone (free from the app store).
  1. Leave a review — Share an honest sentence or two about the show on the iTunes page and give it a star rating (this makes a HUGE difference in helping others find the show).
  1. Share the love — Share this episode with friends and colleagues. An easy way to do that is by using the social media buttons down below.

Finally, if you have a question you’d potentially like answered on a future show — or if you have any feedback in general — please let me know: ed at b2blauncher dot com.

Thanks again for your support!

Till next time,

-Ed


Post Categories: Getting Clients, Podcast, Writing

Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

  • David Rakowski

    Hi Ed:

    Great information as always—–I was not familiar with Jessica and her business until listening to the episode this morning.

    Is there something about Canada that inspires people to business writing careers? Between Gordon Graham, Daphne Gray-Grant and now Jessica it would appear that our neighbors to the north are on to business writing in a big way.

    Hope all is well.

    Dave Rakowski

    • Good question, David! I’ve often wondered the same thing. I suspect it’s a
      complex answer, but I can tell you that Canada has some well-funded
      programs to help solopreneurs start their businesses. We have programs
      in the states, but most of them are geared towards traditional
      businesses, not solos and freelancers.

    • writeahead

      Interesting comment, David. Here’s my take on it – I think that Canadians start online or service businesses (including business writing) partly because they allow us to reach a broader geographical market. In Canada, if you don’t live in a major city, your audience for a brick and mortar business can be very limited, and the distance between major centers is huge. Starting a service business means you can work with your clients via the internet, which saves travel time and makes financial sense for both the proprietor and the client.

    • As a Canadian myself, I can say that while there are grants available as Ed mentions, I was ineligible for any when I started my business four years ago. In fact, I find that banks, lending institutions and grant organizations approach “online entrepreneurs” with a high degree of caution and skepticism.

      My local Chamber of Commerce even refused to list me in their directory because I didn’t fit the category of a “true” business.

      However, what writeahead shared is on target, in my opinion. Living in a remote rural area (in Alberta), my career options are very limited in the brick and mortar world. Whereas online, they’re only as limited as my ambition.

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