Business plan consultants are a niche of the business advisory services industry that specializes in assisting clients to draft business plans mainly for funding purposes. The South African market is awash with business plan consultants giving clients a very wide pool to select their practitioners from. In an unregulated industry, how do you assess the quality of a document that has been prepared for you by your consultant? This is assuming that in the first place you were able to identify a qualified and experienced practitioner.
An above average business plan from a consultant should meet the following qualities:
- It should contain all the sections that your expected financier requires to make a solid decision. If for example you’re applying to SEFA and they mention on their business plan guidelines that a product description section is required, then it should be part of the plan without question.
- Your financier should not deny you finding because your business plan submission had errors of presentation. These are errors to do with formats, titles and presentation.
- The business plan should be complete capturing the business concepts fully and elucidating on how they can be sustainably harnessed.
- The business plan should be practical and implementable.
If your financier denies you funding because of your business plan format, then it is the business plan consultant’s fault. The consultant should know how to professionally present your idea.
However, if financiers reject your business plan because of the below-listed reasons, it might not always be the business plans consultant’s incapacities that would have disadvantaged your application.
- Your business does not meet financiers funding interests e.g. they do not fund a particular business activity.
- Your financiers simply don’t believe the business idea is good enough no matter how well it is presented.
- Your funders are not convinced that you are capable of running the proposed business.
These rejection decisions occur even when the best business plan consultant is hired. A business plan consultant’s job is not to shoot down your business concept and vision. Rather it is to perfect it for professional presentation.
As a guideline to getting best service from your consultant, the following tips are given:
- Never pay the full business plan consultancy fee. Insist on paying a deposit and the remainder when you get an opportunity to review the completed document.
- Always provide as much information as possible and be confident to query information you do not understand.
- Have a clear idea of what you are expecting and communicate it with the business plan drafter.
- Using financier business plan guidelines will help. Banks and financiers like IDC have business plan guidelines on their websites.
- Get a qualified and experienced consultant. Request credentials and references if necessary.
The business plan is your document and your vision even if drafted by a consultant. Always remember this and stay in control. After all, you are paying your hard earned money.