It’s Thursday, which means it’s time to share our kernels of business planning wisdom. This morning, reader Alma asks a good question: “How can I get a business plan prepared for free no joining something or hidden clauses? Or a free seminar for the same?”
First, the bad news: if you want a quality business plan (and trust us, you do), you can’t get it prepared for free. While there’s a myriad of businesses and consultants on the Internet who claim they’ll develop your business plan gratis (just do a quick search for “free business plan”), their claim simply isn’t true. You’re wise to realize, Alma, that there are fees and hidden costs associated with such services.
There’s a reason, though, that it’s difficult—if not impossible—to find a consultant who will create a business plan for free. That’s because developing an exceptional business plan, the kind you need to get funding, takes hundreds of hours of work, research, and number crunching. The old saying that “you get what you pay for” is absolutely true in this case. Even if you were to find a company who’d create a free business plan for you, chances are it would be so shoddily done and of such poor quality that you probably wouldn’t want to use it anyway.
Given that, you have a few options. If you want to do the business plan for free, then you”ll have to do it yourself. Fortunately, there are free resources on the Internet that can help walk you through it. That inlcudes sites (ahem, like ours) that offer entrepreneurs like you free business plan templates that can make the process easier. Business planning software is also available, although these programs typically cost a few hundred dollars. The good news is that if you hit a roadblock or need extra help, SCORE, an organization affiliated with the Small Business Administration, can pair you with a counselor (many of whom are former executives) who can give you advice and direction for free.
We’ve said it before, but it’s a good rule of thumb to remember: there’s no free lunch in business.