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The Writing Angels’ Top 10 Guide to Finding a Professional Business Plan Writer

*Article written by Writing Angels

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 agreements.

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 study.

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 my concept/plan?
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.

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