What Do Business Plan Development Consultants Do?
Business plan development consultants bring in-depth research, industry expertise, robust financial analysis, and C-suite advisory skills into the business plan development process. They help a business develop a well-conceived business plan that bypasses internal assumptions and biases. The business plan strategy they create gives the business owner the tools and data they need to make the right decisions for the long-term success of the business.
Working with a business plan consultant allows a business to create a detailed technical and strategic plan for a new business venture. Within the plan, the consultant will cover critical areas, including financial modeling, market size and marketing, cash flow projections, competitor analysis, key growth metrics, and cost structures. The resulting document provides a solid argument either for or against an identified opportunity.
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Why Hire Business Plan Development Consultants?
Hiring a business plan development consultant is a critical first step in unlocking the value of a new venture. Although most business owners understand their current business well, it takes an unbiased party to challenge assumptions and uncover objective insights about a new venture. Companies that work with business plan consultants achieve better outcomes through more in-depth research, better business modeling, and enhanced business plan clarity. An experienced business plan development consultant is an invaluable asset for any business pursuing a new venture.
Below are some of the top reasons that businesses retain the services of a business plan development consultant:
Explore Growth Opportunities
Businesses bring in professional business plan development consultants to help them identify, analyze, and quantify growth opportunities. Aside from cost-cutting and sales optimization opportunities, business plan consultants offer a strategic business plan perspective that considers how a new direction will impact the entire organization. To this end, they suggest growth pathways that take a broader look at factors such as funding, cash flow, debt, sales cycles, technical capabilities, and company solvency.
Refocus The Business
A business plan is an excellent refocusing tool that restores clarity and unity of purpose to a business. Working with a business plan specialist introduces the experience and expertise required to achieve this. They work closely with the business owners to clarify, reengineer, or modernize the original vision in a way that creates a more robust and future-proofed business. In some cases, their ability to challenge assumptions can help a company pursue a different opportunity than what was initially intended.
Optimize Cash Flow Management
Effective cash flow management unlocks resources that a business can use for growth purposes. Business plan development consultants analyze past and present financials and create effective matrices to demonstrate different ways cash flow management can be optimized. The options they recommend may include renegotiating supply contracts, reprioritization of marketing channels, the introduction of new products, or refinancing of current debt through cheaper financing instruments.
Analyze Possible Exits
Business plan consultants help a business identify, evaluate, and prioritize possible exits across a range of different operating scenarios. Such exits can include selling, merging, or succession planning. Having a comprehensive business plan in place can help identify the best option to take. Additionally, if a business is eyeing a specific exit such as an acquisition by a larger competitor, a business plan consultant can help articulate the right internal business conditions that would support that option.
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Tips on How to Hire Business Plan Development Consultants
The business plan development consultants in your selection will have a breadth of relevant skills in developing robust business plans. Picking the right one to work with will depend on how well their skills and experience map onto your project requirements. Areas of relevance during the evaluation should include industry experience, project size and value experience, and business model experience. For example, if you are transitioning from a pay-per-purchase model to a subscription model, a business plan consultant with extensive experience working with subscription business models would be ideal.
Below are two broad areas to consider when evaluating which business plan consultant to work with:
Business plan development involves a broad spectrum of skills spanning finance, operations, sales and marketing, and distribution. Since the business plan consultant that you work with might interact with one or more of these functions, it is essential to consider candidates with relevant experience in the functions you need them to address. In general, the three primary hard skills to consider when evaluating a business plan development consultant are financial analysis, data analysis, and modeling, and forecasting.
- Financial Analysis: At the heart of an effective business plan is a sound financial blueprint. The right business plan consultant for your project will have financial analysis skills aligned to your requirements. For instance, financial analysis experience from an FMCG background would differ significantly from that of a technology subscription background. Selecting a consultant with experience that maps onto your project needs would offer the best outcomes.
- Data Analysis: Since most businesses that need a business plan have a data gap that they need to fill, the right business plan consultant will bring deep data collection and analysis skills to bridge this gap. They will have capabilities around market analysis, internal document discovery, first-hand interview skills, and trend analysis. From this data, they will surface crucial insights required to investigate possible directions that the business can take.
- Modeling and Forecasting: Business plan specialists provide both financial and operational modeling and forecasting to help a business understand the impact and trajectory of various decisions. They also integrate adjustable variables that can help a company see how changing different factors like costs, timelines, financing, and project scope can affect business outcomes. When selecting a business plan specialist, it is essential to consider their familiarity with developing models and forecasts for your industry and business model.
Soft skills like strategic input, market research, and having a visionary perspective are essential considerations when selecting a business plan development consultant. Since the consultant you work with must look at your project from a bird's eye view, they need soft skills to successfully navigate the different aspects and levels of your business or project. Below are the primary soft skills you should consider when selecting a consultant:
- Strategic Input: Whereas hard skills result in technical input, soft skills result in strategic input. A business plan consultant can offer strategic input through fireside chats, objective and unbiased feedback on the initiative, and experience-based insights. By injecting strategic thinking into the business plan development process, they can help company leadership gain a broader and more comprehensive outlook on how the business can achieve success.
- Market Research: The business plan consultant you select will provide both scientific and informal market research. They will leverage their industry experience and networks to get an insider view of how other businesses in your vertical or adjacent verticals operate. Such market research is invaluable to companies seeking to make a move into a new market or those planning to take on a competitor with a new offering.
- Visionary Perspective: Your business plan development consultant will have a CEO-level perspective of your business. Their in-depth research into your business and data-driven forecasting will yield a business plan that captures the high-level vision of the business leadership. As such, it is crucial to consider business plan specialists with a demonstrable record of accomplishment in offering visionary insights to business owners that led to significant success.