Can Technical Writers Write Business Plans?

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The other day, a colleague asked if I write business plans. My first thought was, “No, except for my own.”

Then, she said, “After all, it is rather technical.”

Well, of course, technical writers are perfectly skilled for writing business plans. Let’s see, what does it entail?

  • Research
  • Presenting information in a nontechnical manner
  • Designing pages that are readable.

Need I go on?

I then went to the Internet and searched “what to charge to write a business plan.” That became a guessing game. I found everything from $500 to thousands of dollars. It really depends on several things:

Are you an expert?

By nature of what we do, technical writers are experts at writing business plans. We know how to do the research, we know how to write, and we know how to present material clearly. If we are not sure how to do something, we look it up. That is how we always work.

If you are familiar with the industry for which you will write the business plan, all the better. Your credibility will allow a higher fee.

What type of business is hiring you?

For business startups, it is best to keep the fee as low as possible without putting yourself in the poorhouse. Remember, startups do not have a lot of money. At this point, it is the principal’s money. The business plan will help get the new company investment capital – that is, if you do your job in writing the business plan, the company will get their working capital.

If the company is already established, the likelihood of it affording more is higher. Although you might not need to do as much research, you can charge more for creating the new plan.

How much information already exists?

If you do not need to do a lot of research, you can charge less as the time spent on the project will be less. Many companies already have stastitics about their industry that you can use in the business plan.

If, however, the company has no research data, you must consider how much time you need to complete the research. Research could take a long time.

If the company already has an older business plan, you might have enough data to create a better, more resourceful business plan. Consider the amount of time saved if you have a document to use at the start.

Where do I find out what goes into a business plan?

There are literally thousands of web sites that talk about business plans. I found one that seems to have all the answers, including examples of over 500 business plans. That site is www.bplans.com. I found a wealth of information on the site.

I am sure there are other good sites, but this one came up on the first page of search results. It gave me everything I needed, so I highly recommend it.

OK, how do I start?

Write a business plan for your own business. See how much time it takes you. How much research do you have to complete? How long does it take you to actually write the plan?

Look at the outline on Bplans web site. It is rather extensive, but it is a place to start writing your own business plan. Then, you can figure out how long it would take you to write one for a client. Most of the information I found suggested a month if one person were to do the plan fulltime. I saw one site that said they put five people on each project and can get it done in one week. Lucky them.

How should I charge?

You need to set a project fee to write business plans. Businesses shy away from the hourly rate we technical writers tend to use. However, remember to include what constitutes a complete business plan. For example, how many edits will you include in the project? There just has to be an ending point.

Get going

OK, now get started on your business plan. See how it goes. Then, you can add “business plans” to your inventory of services

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Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 1:51 PM  Comments (5)  
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