*Article written by Writing
1) Ask for testimonial quotes
Business plans are by their nature confidential documents, so run away
from any business plan writer that offers to show examples of their
previous client work. But they should have testimonials from satisfied
customers they can provide to you - ask for them, and call them to
check they are genuine.
2) Verify their approach to confidentiality
Even before they review any information relating to your business concept
the writer should request a confidentiality / non-disclosure agreement
they can sign. It is imperative that your writer fully appreciates
the importance of protecting your concept, and that they have adequate
measures in place to safeguard the information you give to them. Where
they work with others on the plan – such as additional writers
or researchers – ensure these have also signed confidentiality
3) Do you have associations with business-related bodies?
Writing Angels (www.writingangels.co.uk) works with banks, venture capitalists
and business support groups, such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing
and Business Link, to ensure that our business plans meet the required
standard and specification. Having associations with bodies such as
these helps to ensure that your business plan meets the expectations
of the stakeholders and investors you want to target.
4) Can you provide a checklist of information that needs
to be provided?
Ask the writer to provide you with a structured checklist for the type
of information they need, in what order, for the plan to be constructed
and written. This checklist should cover your business concept; your
management team; your products and services; your target market; competitors;
your sales and marketing strategy; your operational infrastructure and
your financial projections.
5) How will you structure the plan?
It’s vital that your business plan is carefully structured. Business
plans can become very large documents, and if they are badly organised
you run the risk of missing out vital information, or repeating content
to the extent that it bores or confuses the reader.
There is conflicting advice given on the ideal business plan
structure, and even the best advice needs to be modified depending
upon the nature and strength of your specific proposition. We've
seen plans that start with the management structure of the company,
even when this is the proposition’s weakest point. Structure
is important for ensuring that all the right information is included,
but first and foremost the plan needs to be constructed with
the investor’s potential concerns in mind.
6) When will you write the Executive Summary?
Whether or not a stakeholder or investor chooses to read on, or puts
the entire plan in the bin, rests on the power of the first section,
the Executive Summary. Although it comes up front in the plan it should
be the last to be completed – it's only when all the information
needed for the plan is in place that a sound, persuasive, succinct
and compelling argument can be created.
7) How will the plan be delivered?
Business plans are lengthy documents to construct, and very often information
will feed through to the writer in dribs and drabs. It's rare that
a plan will be written straight off as a single, contained project – the
writer will need to provide various drafts, into which more information
will be inserted as and when it becomes available.
At Writing Angels we take a staged approach to our plans that
helps to keep the project on track, and provides the flexibility
to insert new information as and when it is provided. Ask your
writer how they will manage this process, and whether their availability
will be affected if the project takes a number of weeks to complete.
8) Will you conduct additional, supportive research?
Unless they're backed by highly credible and well-resourced market research
companies be wary of writers that say they can conduct primary market
research to substantiate your concept. Very often this research will
only be what the writer can glean from an Internet trawl, and unless
they are charging the premium for the service that it demands will not
be the depth of research that would be needed in a full market or feasibility
However, you should expect your writer to do supportive research
to better understand your concept and your target market, and
be enthusiastic enough about your proposition to proactively
look out for press articles and other information that will help
support your idea.
9) How will you address obvious areas of weakness in
Your business plan needs to prove the viability of your concept, not
only to an external stakeholder or investor, but also to you. Areas of
weakness become very apparent when a plan is drafted, and the best business
plan writers will raise these concerns with you so that you can address
how they can be overcome. Expect your writer to give you a list of points
to consider at each stage of the plan’s drafting, and make sure
they are either addressed or justifiably discounted in the plan through
well-written, solid argument. Don’t work with a writer that would
just spin a yarn to hide any potential obstacles.
10) Can you provide me with a fixed quote?
Most copywriters work on a price per 1,000 words, or an hourly basis,
but an experienced one will be able to give you a timeframe for completion
and a fixed project price on that basis. Also check how the copywriter
will deal with amendments from you, and whether these are included
within their project fee.
© Writing Angels, 2006.
To discuss your business plan in confidence to see how we can
help simply call us on 01634 389100, or complete
our enquiry form online for one
of our Project Managers to contact you.