How Do I Write a Consulting Business Plan?

Consulting is not like other forms of business, and a one-size-fits-all business plan is not sufficient to accurately present your business. Instead, you need to focus on creating a plan that addresses your audience while defining your business.

To write a consulting business plan:

  • Identify your industry, motivations, and strengths
  • Determine your business plan type (financial or personal)
  • Gather the necessary information
  • Create a rough draft
  • Gather feedback
  • Refine the plan

Keep reading as we explore what you need to do before, during, and after writing a consulting business plan. While this is not something you can do in one sitting, breaking it down into smaller steps will help you identify and define your goals.

What to Consider Before Writing a Consulting Business Plan 

Before you start to structure a business plan, you need to be able to define the basics of your business. This includes:

  • What you do and what you plan to offer
  • Who you plan to work with/for
  • Why you do this
  • Marketing strengths

The answers to these questions provide adequate support for launching off into other areas, including financial projections and marketing strategies. Even if you have an established marketing business, stepping back and answering these basic questions will help everything else fall into place

What, Who, and Why

Your “what, who, and why” answers should clearly define:

How Do I Write a Consulting Business Plan?
  • The services you intend to offer
  • The clients you intend to take on
  • What motivates you

Skipping these questions is tempting, but you will get lost down the road or find inconsistencies in your consulting business plan.

Your what, who, and why should help you identify areas where you can stand out from the competition. This can make or break a consulting business, so take the time to dig deep into your answers.

Marketing Strengths

Beyond the basic groundwork of your consulting business, try to identify any immediate areas you know you can attract new clients and opportunities.

You can also define strategies that you would rather avoid, or strategies that you feel would be too draining.

By defining your marketing strengths and weaknesses early on, you have a clearer idea of what you have to offer and how you will reach your goals. This helps you break things down into easier to manage steps and run your business without creating a different professional persona.

While putting on a face is possible, creating a plan that is more authentic to your personality can prevent burnout and help you move forward with minimal issues.

Writing a Consulting Business Plan for Funding and Investors

You need a financial business plan whenever you seek funding through:

  • Loans
  • Investors
  • Grants

Even crowdfunding efforts benefit from clearly defining their business and their ability to succeed.

While you can run a consulting business with minimal startup costs, you may still need to pursue funding to cover expenses until you reach a regular cash flow. Financial assistance can help you find a dedicated work space and enhance your marketing strategies.

The key to writing a consulting business plan when seeking funding is clearly defining your strategy and your funding request while convincing the investor of your ability to repay.

What You Need to Cover

Most business plans used for funding requests include:

  • An analysis of the targeted market
  • Defined business objectives and strengths
  • Startup expenses and current assets
  • Overhead costs
  • Marketing strategies and budget
  • Funding request (including available collateral)
  • Financial projections (preferably monthly)
  • Growth projections and strategies

Writing a consulting business plan to request financial assistance relies heavily on research. You need to have a clear understanding of what the industry looks like as well as where it is heading.

Keep in mind that you do not need to find all these answers in one sitting. Address one section at a time, and refer back to cornerstones of your business any time you start to feel overwhelmed.

Cleaning Up the Numbers

Employing help when writing your financial business plan usually pays off, and it keeps your plan accurate and presentable. You can utilize accounting software to ensure that your numbers are correct and create appealing tables and charts.

An accountant can easily do this work for you, making sure you have the right information and you present it in the most effective way.

Writing a Consulting Business Plan for Personal Use

Even if you do not need funding, creating a consulting business plan can keep you on track and make sure you are navigating your industry effectively. It can help keep you on task and prevent your business from growing stagrant.

A personal business plan is also great to have in case you need to bring anyone else into your business unexpectedly. While this business plan is less formal, it still presents a well-structured idea of how you run your consulting business and where you are taking it.

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Understanding Impacts and Risks

How Do I Write a Consulting Business Plan?

If you are just getting started with a consulting business, it is important to understand the impacts and risks the business poses for your finances and personal relationship.

Consulting can provide irregular income, so you need to have a plan for how you will run the business at the start or when clients thin out. It makes sense to create a savings goal for sustaining the business and preparing for taxes at the end of the year.

The irregularity of consulting also affects your relationships with friends and family. You can easily fall into the habit of working irregular hours and even taking on weekend work.

By setting boundaries early on, you can avoid harming relationships with loved ones and preserving your personal time.

Defining Clients

Identify the types of ‌clients you want to work for and the ones you plan to avoid. Make sure you define which industries you intend to pursue and avoid. Creating these guidelines will prevent you from taking on work from clients that do not blend with your work style.

Look for clients that are reliable and cooperate with your methods. This keeps your work pleasant, preventing burnout and keeping your morale high.

Staying Current With Trends

When working for someone else, they are in charge of ensuring your knowledge and skills are up to date. As you create your consulting business plan, you need to lay out how you plan to do this for yourself.

Common strategies for staying up-to-date include:

  • Subscribing to industry magazines
  • Bookmarking websites, forums, and news feeds
  • Attending annual conferences
  • Completing online and in-person coursework
  • Joining peer groups

Set up accountability methods for your educational pursuits as needed, and refer to this section often.

Setting Goals

You should have personal and financial goals for your consulting business.

Do you intend to remain independent? Are you running a business for a few years before setting up in an established firm? Or do you plan on expanding and creating your own agency?

Lay these out now so you can work towards them and keep them in mind any time you make a major decision.

Financial goals should define:

  • How much you want to make
  • How much you intend to charge
  • How you will deal with commission

Your financial goals should make sense with the larger picture, and they are especially helpful in balancing the start of your consulting career.

Stepping Toward Success

The easiest ways to create a solid business plan are by focusing on:

  • Research
  • Drafting
  • Feedback

Research is essential to create achievable goals and understand your industry. Skimping on research can cost you time and money in the long run, and it can set your business back until you address the issue. Make sure you understand your market and every detail of your plan.

Aim to create a draft before a final product. Business plans are often intense and information-rich, and you can burnout by diving right in. Give yourself a chance to organize the information without worrying about grammar or structure.

Hand the draft over to peers, friends, and associates to get authentic feedback. Even if your business plan is intended for personal use, someone else may ‌flag unrealistic expectations or weaknesses in your plan. They can also point out strengths you did not include.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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How long should a consulting business plan be?

Length is less of an issue with writing a business plan. Instead, focus on including all the information needed for your intended audience. Aim to keep your business plan as short as possible without skipping important details.

Can you have more than one business plan?

You can create as many business plans as you need to effectively present and understand the direction you are moving in. Many businesses have finance-focused business plans to use when requesting funds and a personal document to make sure they are staying true to their core principles and goals.

Should you update your business plan?

A business plan is not set in stone, and it should change as your business grows. Your projections are rarely 100 percent accurate, and you should review the plan monthly to fix any misconceptions and apply any new knowledge.

To learn more on how to plan your own online consulting business click here!

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.