The cost of a business plan varies greatly depending on what type of plan you need. Some plans may be as simple as an executive summary and a one-page financial worksheet, while others can be well over 50 pages and contain several years of financial projections. Decide what type of business plan your company needs in order to help determine the cost of the plan.
You can write a business plan yourself to save money and write a business plan for just what your time is worth. Hiring expert help might be money well spent, and can range from about $1,500 to $50,000 depending on the amount of depth and detail needed.
Hiring a Firm
You can hire a consulting firm to write your business plan, but this is often the highest-cost option. However, you will get a comprehensive business plan written by a dedicated team of specialists in marketing, finance and industry. Business plans written by firms can cost many thousands of dollars. A typical small firm may offer simple business plans for as little as $1,500. More complex plans can range into the high thousands, depending on the firm, the number of team members working on the plan and the scope of the plan.
Using a private consultant to write your business plan can be a cost-effective way to get a strong plan written by an industry expert. A lengthy plan with three years to five years of financial projections may still cost several thousand dollars, but the total cost can be much less than hiring a firm because only one or two individuals are doing the work. Some private consultants charge by the hour and let the client decide how many hours to budget for the work. However, fees for a business plan will still vary quite a bit. Consultants can charge around $3,000 to $15,000 for a complete business plan. For larger corporate projects, expect to see costs ranging $25,000 to $50,000.
Writing It Yourself
The cheapest way to get a business plan usually is to write it yourself. Buying the software to speed up the process ranges from $50 to $500, and free resources available on the Internet can offer both templates and suggestions. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers guides, blogs and outlines, and the SBA's Business Plan Tool provides step-by-step assistance in building your own plan. For businesses with very low start-up capital, this can be the best option.
A business plan can cost less if you do the research and create a draft on your own, and then present it to a company or consultant for review and completion. For example, you could complete the written portion of the business plan and then have someone else help with the financials. This can be a good option for entrepreneurs who can articulate their business idea clearly but may need help putting together realistic financial projections. Review options are available for those who want a professional eye to look at their plan before proceeding. Business plan review services can range from $49 to $1,500.