Business OverviewEntrepreneurship is in, with more and more Americans starting their own businesses. But to get the most from a startup--from knowing where you're headed to obtaining financing to planning that perfect marketing campaign--the small-business newbie needs a business plan, but most people don't know how to write one. If you've got business experience, you know how to pen a business plan and you like working with other people to make their dreams reality, then you can write your own success story as a business plan consultant. You'll work with startup companies seeking financing or investors, or who simply want a business plan to use as a guide. You'll also work with established companies that are looking for new or additional financing, want to franchise, or want to form a merger or acquisition with another firm. The advantages to this business are that you can work at home, you'll always be working on a different and interesting type of business, you get to exercise your creativity and your business skills, and you get the excitement and satisfaction of helping in the birth of a new and potentially lucrative business entity. You'll need a solid grounding in business basics from finances to marketing and in the mechanics of a good business plan. You'll also need good business writing skills, the ability to manipulate figures and super communication skills. You'll need to work closely with your clients to interpret their ideas and produce plans custom-made for their businesses instead of boilerplates that go nowhere.
The MarketYour customers will be new businesses of all descriptions as well as up-and-running firms seeking new direction or financing. Target their owners by networking among bankers, venture capitalists, attorneys specializing in business affairs, accountants, and at your local chamber of commerce. You should also introduce yourself to the staff at small-business incubators and other SOHO assistance centers. Place ads in your local Yellow Pages and don't forget to network among friends and associates. Get yourself written up in--and write articles for--the business section of your local paper. Give talks at professional and civic organizations. Teach courses at community colleges and alternative learning centers.
Needed EquipmentA computer system with the usual office software, a laser printer and a fax machine are all must-haves, as is special business-plan-writing software or some other spreadsheet software for working out financials.