Surely they didn’t do their MBA in order to become freelance business plan writers working from home? Professional business plan writers charge $3000-$5000 per plan – this is the segment where you should be competing. Because there are several business plan writers around (some of them designate themselves as business consultants who also write business plans), quality is the only differentiator that is going to make you successful in this field. The ratio of good business plan writers to the ones that produce low-quality plans has been estimated at one for every four. So you know how much of the ‘competition’ really counts as competition. It might be unfair to term them as competitors – there is enough demand in the market for the good ones. Getting clients Listing yourself on freelance work sites as a contractor is your best bet when starting out in the field. It might take time to get your first assignment, but don’t worry.
Use the downtime to read all about writing a business plan, the markets in general and update yourself with all that data. You could upgrade your spreadsheet and financial knowledge skills as well, in addition to your writing and image design skills – there are plenty of free online courses around. Then when you get your first client, you can use this wealth of information to deliver better and faster. If you have a satisfied client (you could always ask for feedback a month or two later), you can leverage this to your advantage – you could ask him/her if she/she would be willing to review your services if contacted, and if he/she gives his/her assent, you could list that client as a reference when talking to other clients. Remember, learning is a lifelong process – it always helps to keep yourself up-to-date. You could do this even when you are in between clients. It pays!
There is also the chance that you will be tasked with writing two or more business plans at the same time. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, there are two options – you could choose to work on one at a time, and then start working on the other when you have finished the first one (you need to explain this to the second client, how you pay attention to detail, and why it might take some time to deliver, but how he/she can be assured of a high-quality business plan at the end), and so forth. This might put off some clients, but it is never a good idea to compromise on quality. This only affects your reputation and your business in the long term. Add value Anybody who has run a business will tell you that sticking to a dated business plan is a major mistake.
Any business plan needs to constantly reviewed and revised to accommodate changes in the business environment. This also presents a new market segment. You could offer to update the business plan periodically (who better than you, who wrote it in the first place) for a fee; or even update existing business plans written by others. Another way of adding value is offering to answer for free any questions the client or his/her employees might have at any point of time later, even months after you have submitted your business plan. When you engage yourself with your clients constantly in this fashion, asking them questions about their business, their vision for their enterprise and how they see themselves achieving it, you position yourself as more than just a business plan writer – you are seen as a business consultant, truly worthy of the fees you charge.