You may need to interview a number of different business plan consultants or consulting firms before making a choice of who to work with. It is more important at this stage to make sure you have positive answers to the following three questions below than to simply find the lowest price consultant. The final question should help to expand your search if needed.
Do they listen to your questions and answer them clearly?
If you find the consultants you speak with are more interested in selling their services than listening to you describe where you are with the business idea and the specific help you will need, this situation will not likely change as you move forward. Furthermore, the consultant’s answers to your questions should be clear to you. If they are full of industry jargon which the consultant will not explain to you, beware that they may produce results which go over your head and you cannot easily evaluate.
Do they explain their process to you and include multiple points for your input?
Certainly, any business plan development process will begin with the consultant interviewing the entrepreneur to learn all they can about the research they have done, the idea, and their strategy so far. Be sure that the process will then include at least two opportunities after that initiation phase for you to receive a draft of the work completed to date and provide feedback on the direction it is taking so that adjustments can be made. Without these opportunities for your input, the final plan can run away from you and become a description of a business you do not want to, or are incapable of, starting.
Do they care about the quality of your idea?
If a consultant doesn’t care to find out what your basic idea is and to get an early sense of its feasibility before starting work, beware. Successful business plan consultants speak highly of their success rate in helping clients get funding. If they work on business plans that are doomed from the beginning, they will lower that success rate. Only consultants who are interested in taking the money and running will not care if you are starting out with a good or bad idea in the first place.
Why stay local?
Finally, with video conferencing and email widely available, there is no reason to limit your search to local consultants. If you have no fear of throwing a wider net in search of the best consultant for you, you can use this technology to connect with individuals you may never meet in person during the process. When you put local consultants in competition with virtual consultants you will find the best leverage to negotiate prices, as long as you are comfortable with virtual collaboration methods.
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