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Business Plan Services

scottbishopscottbishop subscriber Posts: 5
edited May 2006 in Business Planning
Okay... another BP related question.  Has anyone had any experience with Business Plan services?
Some examples would be:



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    OfficeSpaceJeffOfficeSpaceJeff subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Scott - We never used any of the business plan providers that you mentioned, but I can tell you a little about our own experience.
    We put together our first business plan in 1999.  We used a quasi-professional group that consisted of a top professor from one of the top business schools along with a team of his top hand-picked MBA students.  The cost was $15,000.
    It took about 5 - 6 months of research, writing, re-writing, etc. to get it in good shape.
    The plan worked, because we got our 1st round of VC financing because of it.
    Two years later, we had to put together another business plan.  This one was more elaborate, because we had actual financials rather than projections to incorporate.  This BP also took about 5 months even though we were able to use a lot of the first plan as a base.  It was the financial projections that took the most time.  This 2nd BP cost $30,000!!!
    We did not get a second round of funding, but it was not due to the BP, it was more about 9/11 and the dot com bust.  To make a long story short, 3 years ago we bought out our VC investors for pennies on the dollar - (that`s another story).
    To go back to your question.  I would be very skeptical of anyone that promises a BP in 7 - 10 days or even 30 days for that matter.  They don`t know what your business is, how much research needs to be done on your industry, competition, marketing, etc.  Then there are the financial projections and you need a real pro to handle that.  I just don`t know how you can expect to get a worthwhile product in 30 days or less for only a few thousand dollars or less.
    If you can`t afford to hire a "real" professional firm, then I would go with Palo Alto.  They give you some great ideas and templates, but it is all up to you to do the research, writing, financial projections, etc.  The truth of the matter is that no one knows your business or idea better than you, so you should be able to put together the best business plan.  I actually did most of the rewrites on both of my BPs.  I was just paying for someone to give me advise, do the research, and put together a nice package in the format that VCs were looking for.  I was too busy running my business to deal with all the details that needed to be dealt with. 
    Just realize that this is a huge undertaking and it will be much easier and more managable to break it down into small components.
    Write your Overview first - this is sort of the summary where you describe your basic idea, the industry, etc.  Before jumping in to do a full business plan, do the Executive Summary first.  This is essentially a watered down version of the BP but will serve as a great outline for the BP.  The BP just has a lot more details.  An Executive Summary should be about 5 pages, maybe even less.  A full blown BP will be 25 - 50 pages.
    In almost all cases, you only send out an Executive Summary to prospective investors.  It is only after they show some interest that you send them the full BP.
    In some cases, an Executive Summary alone can do the trick.
    Hope this helps - Jeff.
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    scottbishopscottbishop subscriber Posts: 5
    Jeff - Thanks for the insight.  I purchased Palo Altos Business Plan 2006 Prem. today and it is very straight forward.  As this will be my first "real" venture (I had several smaller side businesses before the wife and kids... the last was selling Viza and Razor scooters through a web presence). 
    I would love to find a source to assist with fine tuning once I am underway.  But as with anything you get what you pay for. 
    Thanks again for the feedback. 
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    BupulgaBupulga subscriber Posts: 1
    Just to give you a quick and different insight. I hope it helps you.
    I don`t know the size of the business you are gatherin g information for, and as Jeff said, the key point is the amount of time you have to spend in the details.
    But I had something happening to me that was quite interesting, and it may help you on the fine tuning. I used my old school, University of Miami, business department (I got my MBA from UM) and I also used my undergrad school, new business department (University of North Florida) and I used score (score.org) to review all the work I was doing. These there entities were amanzingly helpful and it didn`t cost me a penny. I did all the work on the research, fianancial projections and everything else. Then I would ask them to be brutally honest in their review. In the begining it actually hurt my feelings, they were totaly honest (thank God). But I put my ego aside and worked on the BP to improve it. My idea was not to raise capital, as I was financing the venture myself. My BP was to give guidance and keep me on check on all of my moves.
    If you can check with any business department in any university in your area they may be able to help you w/out any cost. Also, score.org is an amazing tool for people who want to start a venture. In any case, I hope this info is helpful to you.
    Good luck.
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    scottbishopscottbishop subscriber Posts: 5
    Thanks MS - That is a great idea.  Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. 
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    LipstickmogulLipstickmogul subscriber Posts: 6
    Hello Scott:
    That is correct, there is  help out there for free. I actually found the resources in those grant books. Very difficult to get a grant for business, BUT there are a LOT of free resources for advise, including writing a buisness plan. I got an appointment for free for over 2 hours with a business planning administrator from a Community College in my area. Very good advise, walked me step by step through the process and gave me a lot of literature, sample plans, and information. If I can find it, I will give you the resource information, it has been a while since I did this. Although I had a lot of info, it did help quite a bit, everyone has input and ideas that you don`t consider, all is valuable.
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    davennydavenny subscriber Posts: 2
    Jeff - Thanks for the insight.  I
    purchased Palo Altos Business Plan 2006 Prem. today and it is very
    straight forward.  As this will be my first "real" venture (I had
    several smaller side businesses before the wife and kids... the
    last was selling Viza and Razor scooters through a web
    I would love to find a source to assist with fine tuning once I am
    underway.  But as with anything you get what you pay
    Thanks again for the feedback. 

    Dear Scott,

    My firm does business plan reviews, normally clients have us review their
    business plan to increase the likelihood of funding either buy commercial
    lenders or VC.

    When you complete your business plan, email it to me and I will
    give you an idea of how much it would cost to have us review it.

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    sallygraysallygray subscriber Posts: 1
    OK, now the question of the day is: Which came first the location or
    the money? This is my concern at this time. I want to get going and
    need to decide on my location, but do I need to get the cash
    together first or do I need to concentrate on the location and then
    get the cash together? I do have some cash of my own I can use, but
    will likely need more than I have. Thanks, SG
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    sallygraysallygray subscriber Posts: 1
    Actually, I liked both your answers. And, I agree with you. I also
    think that since my place will offer services that are unavailable
    elsewhere, people WOULD drive to where ever it was ... with limits,
    of course. I know that I would drive 30-45 min. to get there if it
    This is what I`m doing. I am creating a spa for dogs where they can
    exercise, swim, play, heal and feel good. There will be types of
    therapy available using water, treadmills, jacuzzis and massage. The
    thing about the pool is not only can dogs splash around and have
    fun, but they can get exercise without putting stress on their joints
    which would be good for dogs with arthritis, hip problems, injuries
    (past and present) etc. And they could do it in a safe place where
    they don`t have to worry about sticks, snakes, bacteria, sharp
    objects, etc. as they would find if they were to swim in a lake. Using
    methods (jacuzzi and massage) to relax dogs can help with fearful
    dogs and behavior problems. Plus behavior problems due to
    boredom can be addressed by their having exercise made a regular
    part of their day.
    So, that`s basically my deal. There are a few places like that in Calif.
    and a few places around the country, but none in my area.
    So, location? As I said ... even if I had to drive 45 min. to get to a
    place like that, I`d do it. And my guess is lots of people would. The
    pet industry is making billions of dollars and increasing yearly.
    So, there you go. SG
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