The business plan is an essential document for strategizing about the steps your business needs to take to reach the next level of success. When you are writing a business plan, you generally have three choices: You can write a business plan from scratch, you can hire a professional to write a plan for you, or you can use business plan software to generate one using computerized templates.
There are pros and cons to each of these methods, but today we’re going to look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing a business plan from scratch.
PRO: It’s free
Writing your own business plan from scratch saves you money because you don’t have to pay professional market rates, and you don’t need to purchase special software in order to produce your business plan. Depending on the size of your business and the complexity of your business plan, this can be significant savings, especially over professional rates.
PRO: Personalize your plan with industry insight
When you write your own plan, you can draw on your own years of experience to tailor it to your specific situation and the industry insight that you have gained as a leader in your field. No one knows your business and your place in your industry better than you, so you can use yourself as your own best resource.
PRO: Intimate understanding of your plan
You will never know a business plan better than when you are intimately involved with it at every level. As you work through all of the financial statements, charts, graphs, and research, you will develop a deeper knowledge of your business and its position than you could ever gain from reading someone else’s work. This can be especially beneficial if you need to present your plan to investors or to a bank and will have to be able to talk in knowledgeable detail about everything contained in it.
CON: You get what you pay for
Because you are writing the plan yourself, you are limited by your own available time and expertise in developing your plan. As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. When you hire experts or use paid software, you receive some guarantees of accountability and that the information in the plan will be presented correctly, with calculations that are accurate. If you are developing your own business plan, you won’t have a guarantee that charts are correct, data are accurate, and calculations are done right. If you make a mistake, there is no one to catch it buy you.
CON: It’s a lot more work
At every step of the plan-writing process, you will need to do all of the work yourself. That means that you can’t simply drag and drop numbers in a computer to generate financial statements, graphs, and charts for you. Instead, you will need to create these essential documents yourself. You will also need to format the whole business plan, complete with pagination, headings, etc. While this might seem easy enough if you are comfortable with desktop publishing software, it can be exceptionally time-consuming, even for desktop publishing pros, when you need to merge different types of documents, integrate spreadsheets, or use complex pagination or formatting styles.
CON: It’s more difficult to keep your plan up-to-date
Plans created by software can be updated with the click of a mouse, while those produced by experts can rely on those experts to do the updating for you, for a fee. When you create your own plan, you have to update it yourself, and you need to ensure that any updates and changes are carried through consistently from the beginning of the plan to the end, which can be a lot of extra work.
The path you choose for your business plan will depend on a number of factors, but before choosing to go it alone, be sure that you are comfortable with the different tools and datasets you will need to complete your business plan. If you have any concerns or doubts about the process, you might be better off using business plan software or even hiring someone professional to help write your own business plan for you.
Ultimately, a business plan serves as a key document for your company’s future, so it’s important to put in the time and the effort to do it right the first time to ensure that your company’s future remains bright.