How Much Does A Business Plan Cost?

A professional business plan, as you likely already know, is such an important document; in fact, it’s practically priceless considering all of its potential benefits. However, for most entrepreneurs it’s important to understand how much you should consider paying for a business plan so that you do not get overcharged or not get the best value for what you pay. Although the amount you pay to get a professional business plan can vary widely, there are several considerations you take before making your decision.

You could get a freelance writer to craft a business plan that is simply based on their writing ability or you could get a business plan consultant to write your plan. The difference between the two could be worth thousands of dollars, although you would be getting much more specific expertise with a business plan writing consultant. If you pay a freelance writer $40 per hour to write your business plan, assuming you have provided them with the preliminary information they need about your business to write intelligently about your company, it could take them 25 – 40 hours to complete the job. This comes to $1000 – $1600.  And that might seem pricey, but it’s nothing when you compare it to someone who has actual expertise in the area, like a business consultant.

Much higher costs come into play when you are seeking the assistance of a business plan writing consultant. In this case, you’re not simply recruiting someone to write the plan but you’re buying their expertise on the best way to format and present the information in the plan to achieve your business plan goals. And, in the best case scenario, someone who might offer you advice on your actual business model and strategy.  Or even connect you with other businesses and entrepreneurs who can help make your business plan a reality.

These experienced consultants can easily charge $150 – $200 per hour which comes to $3,750 – $8,000 for 25 – 40 hours of work. Some larger corporations easily pay $10,000 – $25,000 for a well-crafted business plan. If you are just starting in business, these numbers may seem to be on the high end, but it also should give you an indication of how valuable a business plan really is. Since your business plan is the premiere document that you will use to guide the success of your business vision and potentially lead you to generating millions in revenue, or hundreds of thousands in funding, paying thousands of dollars is considered by many to be a worthwhile investment.

If you want to pay much less for a business plan that can be just as effective, you should consider creating a business plan on your own. The good news about today’s technology is that there are easy business plan makers on the market that can drastically cut down on the cost of making an effective business plan. Instead of you paying thousands of dollars for a writer to put together a business plan document that makes sense to the stakeholders of your business, you can use online business building software that allows you to use fill-in-blank templates that generate a professional business plan in up to 90% less time for thousands of dollars less.

Creating a high-quality business plan doesn’t have to be out of reach for you if you are just starting out or if your business doesn’t have $8,000 laying around. What’s most important when it comes to business plans is that it is well organized, clear, concise, and easily shareable with your stakeholders. This can all be done easily for around the cost of a decent latte, so don’t procrastinate. Go ahead and sacrifice that cup of coffee to use a professional business plan maker that will improve the organization of your business and help you to lay out your business vision to your associates, employees, and investors.

Business Plan Cost Evaluation Break Down

Below we’ve listed the most popular methods of drafting a business plan, from most to least expensive.

But, before you dive into any of these options, know that many costs vary based on your business’ needs, the writer’s experience, the state you live in, etc.

The good news is, thanks to how heavily we have all begun to rely on the internet since 2020, the world, including the world of knowledgeable entrepreneurs, has become much smaller.  Research and ask around for the highest quality and most reasonably priced professionals.  Referrals from friends or professionals with a solid business background or satisfied consultant customers are usually the best way to go, if you’re set on hiring this task out. 

And remember, a word of caution: do not proceed into any dealings with a writer before signing a contract that includes an NDA or non-disclosure agreement clause – an agreement that legally bars your chosen freelancer or consultant from discussing your business model and the contents of your business plan with anyone outside of your agreed upon parties.  Without this added clause, your company’s “secret sauce,” so to speak, can easily become public knowledge if you’re not dealing with true professionals.

Additionally, just like any other big purchase you make in life or in your business, you want to make sure that the professional you’re trusting to create your business plan is an upstanding individual who will deliver what they say they will, charge what they advertise, and be complete in their stated time frame.  Because, after all, a freelancer or consultant is there to make your life simpler- not compromise your finances or the future of your company.

But, without any further ado, here are the approximate costs, pros, and cons of hiring out a business plan writer, versus tackling the task yourself!

 Approximate CostProsCons
Business Consultant-$150 – $200 / hour – 30 – 50 hours -$4,000 – $8,000 total-High quality product -Trustworthy expertise -Possible networking opportunities-High Expense
Freelance Writer– $40 per hour -30 – 50 hours -$1,000 – $2,000 total-Outsourcing the work so you and your team can focus on other pressing matters-No guarantee the writer has experience in the field or with business plan templates
DIY (Do It Yourself)-Low to no cost!-Save money -Educate yourself -Use tools like this business plan builder to help you!-Big time investment -No quality guarantee

Keep in mind as well, that the average business plan is 50 pages long, with some business plans being double that.  And if the average page of a business plan takes about an hour to write (including research and chart/graphic generation), you can see how quickly these costs add up.

More than that, some writers pay charge per word, especially those that aren’t business consultants.  With 50 pages equaling about 22,500 words, this format of billing can add up quickly too.  When possible, try to agree on a total amount beforehand, so you don’t end up with any expected costs once your business plan has been completely drafted.  The last thing a new business needs is to be slapped with an unexpected bill they aren’t prepared to pay.

When does it pay to invest big bucks into a business plan?

Remember, every business is different and has different needs.  These needs can affect not only the time it takes to write up your business plan, but also how crucial it is that you have a high quality business plan in the first place.  Therefore, check out these factors below to see if investing big bucks to hire out a consultant or freelancer is the right move for your unique business plan:

·                When you have a “new” or complex business model – While a more “traditional” business like a pizza shop or restaurant may be pretty straightforward to write up, a new groundbreaking idea in the tech space, for example, requires more ingenuity, time, and creativity to craft; and would therefore be a better time to hire a professional out

·                When you plan on opening up your business to significant investors – Your business plan is not for your average customer.  It’s really for people who might financially benefit from your business in the future, like potential investors and partners.  Therefore, if you’re not planning to make your business go public anytime soon, going broke on a business plan might not be worthwhile, at least at first.

·                When you don’t have much entrepreneurial experience – As good as online resources are these days, if terms like “market analysis” and “customer retention” feel confusing and overwhelming to you, then it might be time to call in a professional.  If not just to ensure your business plan is high quality, then to save yourself a big headache and A LOT of research.

·                When you don’t have a lot of time – Let’s be honest, crafting a business plan, and crafting right, takes at least 25 hours…for an experienced professional!  If this is your first time tackling something like this, expect it to take at least double that long.  So, if you’re in the lucky position of having more money than time on your hands, hiring a professional is likely the way to go.

How do other entrepreneurs feel about paying for a business plan?

When it comes to dishing out cash for a top of the line business plan, many entrepreneurs say this isn’t 100% necessary for all businesses.

As we mentioned before, if your business model is pretty straight forward and not looking for future investors or partners, then drafting it up yourself might not be the worst idea.  In fact, some business professionals say your money would be better spent on a quick course or consulting session teaching you how to write up a business plan so you understand the skill better for the future.  They consider this couple of hundred spent on educating yourself as opposed to thousands on the document itself is a win-win: you save money and learn a new, important skill along the way.

For example, Innovation Consultant Nicole Royer says, “stop posting want ads for low dollar business plans. They are offensive and will get you nowhere. Invest that $100 into a consulting session and a template — you will get farther;” and in many cases, we’d have to agree.

So, What’s Our Advice – To Pay for a Business Plan, or Not to Pay?

If you can afford it, and if your business model is complicated and relies on lots of investors, hire a business consultant to draft your business plan.  Even if it feels like a big cost right now, we all know that it “takes money to make money,” and investing in a well-crafted business plan is something your cutting edge business will be grateful for in the future.

If you are  unable to justify the expense at this time though, don’t fret, there are other options!  If possible, reach out to other entrepreneurs and business owners and see who they have contacted about writing a business plan in the past; because who knows?  Maybe through a referral you save some money and end up with a high quality business plan for a fraction of the cost!

If push comes to shove, however, and it really feels like you’ll need to be fully responsible for drafting your business plan, be sure to do your research.  Read up on topics like what to include in a traditional business plan, traditional business plans versus lean business plans, and examples of successful business plans.

And of course, don’t be afraid to use already drafted business plans as inspiration.  Oftentimes in business, the best models are those that are tried and true and copied to a T.  If visionaries like Bezos and Musk have the recipe for success already figured out, then why spend your money and energy reinventing the wheel?

And finally, remember, as important as a business plan is, it’s never set in stone.  Businesses are constantly evolving and so can your business plan – so there’s no reason why you can’t draft up your business’ first version today and invest in a professionally written one next quarter when you can better justify the cost.  Some entrepreneurs even recommend writing a first draft of your business plan by yourself, and then passing it off to a consulting company for polishing – potentially a great compromise as far as time and monetary commitments are concerned.

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