With so many people becoming entrepreneurs, business plan writers face a growing market for their services. While inexpensive business plan software can help users structure the sections of the business plan (the company profile, marketing proposal, financial information), software can't substitute for the amount of thought and research a good plan requires, nor the ability to write a persuasive report that will convince investors the business is worthwhile.
Using software as a starting point, these experts construct plans that help new business owners achieve their goals. Business plan writers also assist entrepreneurs in making sales forecasts and cost estimates and in setting up proper accounting systems.
Steve Crow, 42, describes himself as an entrepreneur who enjoys helping other entrepreneurs. He started A Better Business Plan in Mundelein, Illinois, in 1996, after working for 15 years in the sales and marketing division of a pharmaceutical company. At any given time, he has four to eight plans in progress. His standard rate tops $68 an hour; a typical business plan brings in as much as $4,000.
Robert F. Peralta, 67, a retired CPA, started his business planning company, RFP Consulting Associates, in Weston, Florida, in 1992. Peralta charges $100 an hour for his services. However, both Peralta and Crow do some work off-the-clock and discount standard rates for cash-poor start-ups.
Finding business hasn't been difficult for either start-up entrepreneur. "A Yellow Pages ad has been my best marketing [tool]," Crow says. "The other things that have reaped the most benefits have been doing seminars at an SBA Small Business Development Center and the local chamber of commerce. Those have generated clients almost continuously." Social contacts have paid off for both entrepreneurs as well: Crow wrote his first plan for a friend, and Peralta advertises in his church's newsletter.