How to write a consulting business plan
If you want to work as a consultant, you'll need a plan. Here's how to create one just for you.
Consultants do things differently
If you’re a self-employed consultant your work isn't like other forms of business. Unlike retailers or manufacturers, you're not making and/or selling tangible products. And unlike service companies, you're not employing a team of people to provide solutions.
Remember you’re not not just selling your time. As a consultant, you will be paid for the skills, knowledge and abilities you've developed over your career.
We have some useful background reading about the benefits of becoming a consultant or contractor , which will help explain how such businesses work. But having decided to become a consultant, what's the next step?
Like all new small businesses, you'll need a plan. That plan will have to cover funding, growth, pay rates, expenses, marketing, equipment costs, training and qualifications. It will also have to cover your goals, and the strategy you'll use to reach them.
Consulting business plans are a little different to other business plans. Here's what you need to know to get your consulting career off the ground.
Who are you writing the plan for?
This is an important question to ask yourself before you start. For most conventional businesses the answer will be "For the bank and investors." That's because small businesses usually need startup funding to get off the ground.
But consultants setting up their own business might not need much funding – if any. It's still important to have a business plan though – not only to clarify the details in your own mind, but also to help you understand the potential risks and rewards.
A good business plan will combine elements of both finance and strategy, but the contents will vary depending on the target audience. We'll take a look at the options next.
A business plan for banks and investors
You may not need funding for capital equipment expenses or office rent. But you might need a loan to tide you over for the first few months, until you have a regular cash flow. The initial period for any new business can be a tough time – money worries will just make it tougher.
You may also decide that you want to make more of an impression by hiring office space, perhaps in a shared office environment. Or you might want funds to spend on marketing and advertising, particularly if you're offering consulting services in a competitive market.
For all of this, you'll need money. You could apply for a bank loan, look for grants, or try other forms of capital-raising such as crowdfunding. Whichever method you choose, any potential investors will want to see the important numbers. That means you'll need to cover the following points in your business plan:
- target market and sector analysis
- business objectives and USP (unique selling proposition)
- startup expenses and assets, including equipment
- overheads and fixed costs
- marketing strategy and budget
- funding requirements, loan collateral and cost of interest
- pay rates, revenue and cash flow projections
- sales forecasts in monthly intervals
- ongoing expenses
- growth projections and strategy
Some of this information will be difficult for you to estimate. It might be even harder for you to present clearly. Use your accounting software to help with figures and to produce professional tables and charts. Then, an accountant can help you include the right information in your plan.
A business plan for you
Of course, you might not need any funding. Perhaps you have enough savings to keep you going for a few months and clients already lined up. Or you may be starting your consulting career after an inheritance or unexpected windfall.
If money isn't an immediate concern, you can afford to be less formal when drafting your plan. That means making sensible predictions and setting goals for yourself, not just financial targets – though you should include those too.
This isn't an exercise in creative writing. The purpose of creating a plan is to help you concentrate on what you want to achieve. Some points to consider include:
Reasons for being a consultant
Why are you doing this? It's important to answer honestly. If the answer is “to make more money” or “because I'm good at what I do” then write that down. Write down all the reasons you can think of, then read them back. Do they sound convincing? Make sure you know your true motivation, as it will help you focus on your goals.
Consulting can mean you have an irregular income. Sometimes you might be busy, other times less so. It makes sense to keep some money in savings accounts, especially if you'll be paying tax at the end of the year instead of while you're earning.
Think about the impact of consulting on your family or friends. Consultants often work irregular hours, sometimes from home, and they might be working at weekends. That can put a strain on relationships. Be realistic about this and set boundaries around when and where you will work.
Which clients to avoid and which to take on
You will already have an idea of the types of client you don't want to work for, because you know the industry you work in. For example, known late-payers can damage your cash flow so it's sensible to avoid them where possible. Look for clients who are reliable, as they’ll help make your business a success. Know that you can let go of clients who are more trouble than they're worth.
Training and certification
In many industries, especially IT, it's important to keep your skills up to date. But your clients are unlikely to pay for you to go on training courses – that's an expense you'll have to cover yourself. How will you stay up to date? Think about industry magazines, websites, forums, news feeds, conferences, courses, distance learning, peer groups and self-teaching strategies.
Perhaps you're planning to be a consultant for the rest of your working life. Maybe you want to do it for a couple of years and then move back in-house as an employee. Or you might want to start employing other consultants at some stage and build up an agency – maybe even sell it. It doesn't matter what your personal goals are, as long as you have some. Write them down and bear them in mind when making big decisions.
What to do with your profits
This is a good opportunity to think about how much money you want to make . Consider how much you will charge and what you will do with your commission. For example you may decide to use 50% to cover costs, pay yourself with 30% and put 20% back into your business.
Some of this information would be inappropriate to include in a financial business plan for banks or investors. But it can be very helpful in guiding you through the early part of your consulting career.
Five top tips for writing a good consulting business plan
Business plans can be difficult documents to write. If you've never done it before, thinking clearly and logically about your business strategy may not be easy. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
1. Write the first draft
Don't worry about grammar, structure or neatness. Just get the thoughts out of your head and onto the paper or screen. Some people find this easier to do in an informal setting, such as a library or café.
2. Do your research
Understand the market you're going to be working in. Get to know all the details, as it'll help you write a more effective consulting business plan.
3. Identify your USP
That's your unique selling proposition. Why should companies hire you and not one of your competitors? Think carefully about what you're particularly good at, then use that as a basis for marketing yourself.
4. Get feedback
Talk to your peers, friends, previous business associates and potential customers. Show them your plan and listen to their feedback.
5. Keep it simple
Don't write dozens of pages. You'll bore the investors and your plan will end up on a pile where nobody will ever look at it again – including you. Stick to the important points.
Update your business plan regularly
A business plan isn't a static document. It should change and evolve over time as your business grows. You will learn a great deal in your first few months working as a consultant, and that knowledge should be applied to your business plan. It's a good idea to review your plan every month.
You may find that some of what you initially wrote turns out to have been misguided, inaccurate or just plain wrong. That's normal. Nobody can predict every step a business will take. The important thing is to learn as you go along – and make use of that knowledge to improve your plan.
Plan for consulting success
A consulting business plan is written as much for you, the consultant, as for anyone else. The point of writing it is to concentrate on what's important. That clarity is what will help you succeed.
So don't look at a business plan as just another box to be ticked. It's a fundamental process when starting any business, particularly a consulting business where you will need initiative and drive to succeed.
Take the time to write a proper business plan, and keep it regularly updated as your business grows. You can use our free business plan template . You'll find it an invaluable guide to becoming a successful consultant.
Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.
Download the business plan template
Fill in the form to get a free business plan template as an editable PDF. We’ll send a one-pager and a multi-pager to choose from.
Privacy notice .
Start using Xero for free
Access all Xero features for 30 days, then decide which plan best suits your business.
- Included Safe and secure
- Included Cancel any time
- Included 24/7 online support
Or compare plans from $3.25 per month
Starting a Business
- Business Plans
- Real Estate
- Business Models
- Business Ideas
- Side Hustle
Growing a Business
- Business Process
- Operations & Logistics
- Employee Experience & Recruiting
- Business Culture
- Thought Leaders
Science & technology.
- Social Media
- Business Solutions
- Data & Recovery
Money & Finance
- Debt / Loans / Refinancing
- Cryptocurrency / Blockchain
- Buying / Investing in Business
- Personal Finance
- Health & Wellness
- Celebrity Entrepreneurs
- Resumes & Interviewing
- Making a Change
- Franchise Advisors
- Franchise 500 Annual Ranking
- Featured Opportunities
- Find a Franchise
- Franchise Suppliers
- Buy a Franchise
- Grow Your Franchise
- Franchise Your Business
- Franchise News
- Find Success
- How to Go Green
- Latest News
- New Products
Copyright © 2023 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Entrepreneur® and its related marks are registered trademarks of Entrepreneur Media Inc.
How to Start a Consulting Business: Your One Page Business Plan
Learn the three critical components of your business plan and download a template to get started
By Terry Rice • Apr 28, 2021
I wrote several business plans while obtaining my MBA from the University at Buffalo. But, for some reason, I totally skipped that part when it was time to launch my consulting business. My only real plan was to generate revenue, which often involved saying "yes!" to any opportunity that came my way, and not charging nearly enough for the services. And, when my daughter was born, I was too concerned about the future to be fully present. I was there, but I was more preoccupied with worrying about how I would provide for her than I was with enjoying and appreciating the experience.
Fortunately, that all changed once I decided to create a real plan aligned with the vision I had for my business and my family. That was six years ago and I've now packaged it as the One Page Business Plan for Consultants . I'm sharing the framework with you so you can avoid my mistakes, and compress the amount of time it takes for you to find fulfillment. This is by no means a hack - you're going to put in work - but this guide will reduce the confusion and frustration that can come from starting a new business.
I should also note that you may not complete it in one sitting. By design, it will challenge you and expose blind spots you may not be aware of. That's a good thing! Addressing these critical issues now will save you from months - possibly even years - of self-doubt and lost revenue.
And, if you're currently offering professional services , but are wondering why you haven't been able to "figure it out" just yet, this plan could be the key to unlocking your revenue potential.
It's all centered around answering three critical questions, which I've highlighted below.
Related: Learn how to package, price, and promote your consulting services
What do you do, who do you do it for, and why?
Clarity is the precursor to confidence. Once you establish clarity on your services, audience and motivation; you'll be able to confidently move forward with the next steps. I address how to get clear on your services in the article How to Start a Consulting Business: 3 Steps to Finding Your Idea , so I suggest checking that out in addition to the guidance provided in the business plan.
Be sure not to skip defining your "WHY" - the purpose, the cause, or the belief that drives you - this will become a valuable differentiator as you grow your business. And, if you need help crafting yours, Simon Sinek literally wrote the book on it, but you can also check out his brief YouTube video that provides some valuable tips.
How do you attract clients and opportunities by expressing your expertise and personality? (Marketing)
When I first started offering Digital Marketing services, I visited a local business in Brooklyn so I could pitch them in person. I knew launching a business would require stepping out of my comfort zone and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do so. Incredibly enough, they said "yes", but I never did door-to-door sales again. Why? Because I hated it, and I knew there had to be a more efficient way.
Your goal should be to land clients based on how you feel comfortable presenting yourself and the value you provide. Not by spending 20 minutes hyping yourself up by listening to Eminem's "Lose Yourself" on repeat before you finally get enough courage to ask for their business. Everyone may be telling you to join Clubhouse , but answering questions on Quora might be a better fit for your personality.
It's also crucial to attract the right prospects. I used to get contacted by people who asked how much I charged before asking how I could help. In time, you'll learn how to weed those people out so you can focus on prospects who understand the value you provide and are willing to pay you what you're worth.
Beyond that, your marketing tactics need to be measurable and repeatable. Otherwise, you won't know how to avoid making the same mistakes or double down on what's working for you.
Related: How to Grow Your Email List and Sales Pipeline by Creating Your Own Free Mini-Course
How do you deliver your services and scale revenue? (Delivery)
Experiencing burnout — emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress — is far too common with entrepreneurs. One way to avoid it: develop a process to deliver your services that is aligned with efficiency and impact.
While custom projects can be lucrative, they also require much more coordination and development. Defining the delivery - and pricing - of your services in advance allows you to create a business model that is aligned with your desired revenue and lifestyle goals.
You can see options for delivering your services below.
By documenting this process, you'll also be able to better project and scale revenue, which reduces uncertainty and gives you the freedom to take time off without worrying about where your next paycheck is coming from.
Related: How to Start a Consulting Business: Determining Your Rates
Download the One Page Business Plan and block off three hours to work on it. I suggest working for 50 minutes, taking a 10-minute break, and repeating that cycle three times. And, if you have any questions feel free to reach to me on LinkedIn or join a live Q&A session .
Ready to start your consulting business? Check out our Consulting Business Accelerator and get going today! You'll gain access to training videos, hands-on activities and join live weekly Q&A calls.
Business Development Expert-in-Residence
Terry Rice is the Business Development Expert-in-Residence at Entrepreneur and host of the podcast Launch Your Business , which provides emerging entrepreneurs with the critical guidance needed to start a business. As the founder of Terry Rice Consulting he helps entrepreneurs make more money, save time and avoid burnout. He writes a newsletter about how to build your revenue and personal brand in just 5 minutes per week.
Editor's pick, most popular, a 'quiet promotion' will cost you a lot — use this expert's 4-step strategy to avoid it.
Ginni Saraswati, CEO and founder of podcast production house Ginni Media, reveals how to make sure you're not leaving any money on the table.
By Amanda Breen
TikTok Influencer Reveals She Makes $350,000 a Month on OnlyFans. 'Absolutely Unreal.'
When Tara Lynn promoted her OnlyFans page on TikTok, she saw her income more than double.
By Jonathan Small
Hidden Valley Ranch Ice Cream Is Real and Coming to Select Walmarts Nationwide
Proof positive that ranch dressing goes with everything?
By Steve Huff
6 Ways Your Company Will Benefit From Better Community Involvement
The power to make a positive impact through community involvement will translate into benefits for your business.
By Austin Mac Nab
Phishing Is the No. 1 Cyber Threat. Here's Who It's Affecting (and How)
Here's what you need to know about the different types of phishing attacks and how to protect yourself and your business.
By Andrew Newman
'It's Not the Wealthy Taking the Hit': Mark Cuban's 'Baby' Among Companies With Millions In Silicon Valley Bank
The billionaire took to Twitter late Friday to sound off amid the collapse of SVP.
By Emily Rella
Successfully copied link
Consulting Firm Business Plan Template
Business Plan Outline
- Consulting Firm Business Plan Home
- 1. Executive Summary
- 2. Company Overview
- 3. Industry Analysis
- 4. Customer Analysis
- 5. Competitive Analysis
- 6. Marketing Plan
- 7. Operations Plan
- 8. Management Team
- 9. Financial Plan
Start Your Consulting Firm Plan Here
Consulting Business Plan
You’ve come to the right place to create your consulting business plan.
We have helped over 100,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans and many have used them to start or grow their consulting businesses.
Sample Consultant Business Plan & Template
Below are links to each section of your consulting business plan template:
- Executive Summary
- Company Overview
- Industry Analysis
- Customer Analysis
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Operations Plan
- Management Team
- Financial Plan
Next Section: Executive Summary >
Consulting Business Plan FAQs
What is a consulting business plan.
A consulting business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your consulting firm. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing plan, and details your financial projections.
You can easily complete your consulting firm business plan using our Consulting Firm Business Plan Template here .
What Are the Main Types of Consulting Firms?
There are many types of consulting firms. Most consultant companies are in business concentrations such as Management, Strategy, Operations, IT, Human Resources, Financial Advisory, and Marketing/Sales.
What Are the Main Sources of Revenue and Expenses for a Consulting Business?
The primary source of revenue for consulting firms are fees paid by the client. The client will either sign a contract or agreement of the services it will choose and the pricing for those services beforehand.
The key expenses for a consulting business are the cost of leasing the office, employee cost, marketing/advertising costs, and any office technology or software.
How Do You Get Funding for Your Consulting Business?
Consulting businesses are most likely to receive funding from banks. Typically you will find a local bank and present your consulting business plan to them. Angel investors and other types of capital-raising such as crowdfunding are other common funding sources.
What are the Steps To Start a Consulting Business?
Starting a consulting business can be an exciting endeavor. Having a clear roadmap of the steps to start a business will help you stay focused on your goals and get started faster.
1. Develop A Consulting Business Plan - The first step in starting a business is to create a detailed consulting business plan that outlines all aspects of the venture. This should include potential market size and target customers, the services or products you will offer, pricing strategies and a detailed financial forecast.
2. Choose Your Legal Structure - It's important to select an appropriate legal entity for your consulting business. This could be a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to do research and choose wisely so that your consulting business is in compliance with local laws.
3. Register Your Consulting Business - Once you have chosen a legal structure, the next step is to register your consulting business with the government or state where you’re operating from. This includes obtaining licenses and permits as required by federal, state, and local laws.
4. Identify Financing Options - It’s likely that you’ll need some capital to start your consulting business, so take some time to identify what financing options are available such as bank loans, investor funding, grants, or crowdfunding platforms.
5. Choose a Location - Whether you plan on operating out of a physical location or not, you should always have an idea of where you’ll be based should it become necessary in the future as well as what kind of space would be suitable for your operations.
6. Hire Employees - There are several ways to find qualified employees including job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed as well as hiring agencies if needed – depending on what type of employees you need it might also be more effective to reach out directly through networking events.
7. Acquire Necessary Consulting Equipment & Supplies - In order to start your consulting business, you'll need to purchase all of the necessary equipment and supplies to run a successful operation.
8. Market & Promote Your Business - Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting and marketing your consulting business. This includes creating a website, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. You should also consider traditional marketing techniques such as radio or print advertising.
Learn more about how to start a successful consulting business:
- How to Start a Consulting Business
© 2023 PlanBuildr.com
Don't bother with copy and paste.
Get this complete sample business plan as a free text document.
Consulting Planning Business Plan
Start your own consulting planning business plan
Business Solutions Consulting
Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">.
Introduction Business Solutions Consulting (BSC) is a start-up consulting firm focused on serving the comprehensive needs of businesses in the full range of the business cycle. With a core staff of experienced professionals and a team approach to most consulting projects, BSC will be able to offer a more balanced quality service than many of its competitors.
The Company Business Solutions Consulting is a team of six business consultants. Each consultant specializes in a particular discipline, including finance, sales and marketing, technology, management, operations, and human resources.
BSC offers a list of services for business owners to choose from, depending on their particular business needs. This includes; business and marketing plan preparation, financial search and procurement, IT consulting services, management development, human resources advising, and etc.
BSC will have a focus on start-up businesses, preferably in the earlier stages of operation. Small and mid-sized businesses make up a sizable majority of U.S. and international markets. BSC prefers to establish a relationship with a younger operation and continue to nurture that relationship over the long term.
BSC will be established as an Oregon based LLC with two principal partners, each of whom owns a 50% share in the company. Mr. Andrew B. Christiansen has extensive experience in business planning and finance, including CFO positions with ABC Conglomerate and DEF International. Mr. David E. Fields brings in experience in the area of marketing, advertising, and communications.
The Market The business consulting industry is very fragmented. Several large multinational companies dominate the industry while many smaller (and often more specialized) firms occupy their market niches. Major management consulting companies, such as McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group, have established their dominant position by providing services to the leading companies in various industries. Consulting practices of the major accounting firms (a.k.a. the Big Five) have established worldwide presence and sell their packaged services to companies of different sizes and industries. At the same time, numerous firms and individual business consultants prosper in the market niches that bigger players consider unprofitable to enter.
Start-up companies are the target market of this firm. BSC intends to stay on the pulse of new business activity within the local area. Additionally, business contacts, referrals from among the group, and Internet marketing efforts will be made in pursuit of new clients. Start-up companies are attractive because owners often lack the broad range of knowledge and expertise required to launch a new business. There is a serious need in the marketplace, and certainly a significant demand for, these types of start-up consulting services.
Competitors in the forefront of the marketplace typically offer many of the services that BSC has. These services include information-based consulting, integration and management services. Services are designed to increase clients’ operations effectiveness through reduced cost, improved customer service, enhanced quality of current product lines and services, and a more rapid introduction of new products and services. Competitors also offer industry-specific expertise to objectively evaluate, select, develop, implement, and manage information systems, networks, and applications.
Consulting firms BSC is competing with include regional and specialty consulting firms, as well as the consulting groups of international accounting forms such as KPMG LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, Deloitte & Touche LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Andersen Consulting. In its management and IT consulting services, BSC competes with information system vendors such as HBO & Company, Inc., Integrated Systems Solution Corporation, Electronic Data Systems Corporation, Perot Systems Corporation, SAIC, CAP Gemini America, Inc., and Computer Sciences Corporation. In e-commerce-related services, BSC competes with the traditional competitors, as well as newer, Internet product and service companies such as Razorfish, Scient, TriZetto, and Viant.
Financial BSC’s co-owners, Andrew B. Christiansen and David E. Fields, will each provide $50,000 that will cover the bulk of the start-up expenses. The rest of the required financing will come from the Small Business Administration (SBA) 10-year loan in the amount of $100,000. Combined, these funds will be sufficient to cover the company’s expenses throughout the first year of operations, which is the most critical from the cash flow standpoint.
BSC’s Break-even Analysis is based on the average of the first-year figures for total sales by salaries, bonuses costs, and all other operating expenses. Such analysis shows that BSC will break-even by the tenth month of operations.
Business Solutions Consulting aims to offer comprehensive consulting services. BSC will focus on providing personal and specialized services to meet each client’s specific needs.
1.2 Keys to Success
BSC’s keys to success include:
- A group of professionals with a broad range of specialty areas that complement each other.
- A high level of experience in these specialty areas.
- A team approach on most consulting projects.
- Many business contacts among the consultant group.
Start your own business plan
Your business plan can look as polished and professional as this sample plan. It's fast and easy, with LivePlan.
The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan
Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.
No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.
Plan, fund, and grow.
Easily write a business plan, secure funding, and gain insights.
Achieve your business funding goals with a proven plan format.
The 5-Part Entrepreneurial Consulting Business Plan
If you want to start a consulting business , then you need to write your consulting business plan.
I’ve watched countless starry-eyed entrepreneurs “start” their business with a 50-100 page business plan.
They spend weeks — or even months — toiling away at their desk after their 9-5 detailing everything about their future business.
After they’ve written it, they beam with pride.
“This plan is the key to my success in consulting! With this plan, I can’t fail.”
Then, they take their plan out to the real world.
The real world isn’t as perfect and pretty when starting your business.
And that golden business plan? Well, it almost always doesn’t work the way they’d hoped.
All of the projections they made? Naw, not even close.
So they scurry back to their desk to revise the plan — and the cycle continues.
Here’s the truth about consulting business plans…
You don’t need to a long, complex business plan.
If your business plan is more than 5 pages, every extra page you write is almost certainly wasting your time.
All you need is a 1-3 page document to cover the foundations of your business.
By the end of this post, you’ll write your 5-part entrepreneurial consulting business plan — and have everything you need to start a successful consulting business.
Let’s begin with the first part: your consulting business model.
1. Consulting Business Model
- “What kind of consulting business do you want to build?”
That’s the first question you want to answer for your consulting business plan.
Understand what type of business you want to build first before you start building it.
That way, you’re building a business to support your lifestyle and not the other way around.
At Consulting Success®, we believe that your business shouldn’t consume your life .
Your consulting business should enrich your life and create a fulfilling lifestyle for you and your family.
For your consulting business model, you have 4 options:
1. Solo Model : The classic independent consultant . Your business is just you (and maybe a few contractors). From delivering projects to marketing and sales, you are responsible for every part of the business.
(To see the pros and cons of each model, see our post on The 3 PROVEN Consulting Business Models .)
2. Firm Model : The typical large consulting firm. Your firm consists of consultants, associations, junior and senior people. Your role starts off as doing a bit of everything — but eventually, your role becomes hiring, training, and managing your team.
3. Productized Model : This model comes out of one of the above models. You identify a particular problem your clients have, and you build your business around solving that problem with a focus on efficiency. This model is all about systems, efficiency, and scale.
4. Hybrid Model : The hybrid model is a mix of the models above. For example, you might offer a productized consulting offer — but also do some solo custom consulting. Once you’ve mastered one of these models, the hybrid model helps you add new products and services to create more revenue.
Pick one of the models above. If you’re unsure about which one to use, start with the solo model. You can always change it in the future. Chances are, your business will evolve in the future anyways.
With your consulting business model selected, let’s move to the next part of your consulting business plan — clarity around your ideal client.
2. Ideal Client Clarity
- “Who is the ideal client my consulting business will serve?”
That’s the second question you’ll answer with your consulting business plan.
This is all about how you’re going to specialize .
As an entrepreneurial consultant, specialization is crucial.
You can’t offer everything to anybody.
You’ll have to begin by choosing a specific type of client to serve — your niche.
A niche is a certain subset of people whom you might potentially serve — SaaS companies, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, etc.
To find your ideal client, you’ll have to test out different niches.
This is why we teach the Niche Scoring Method in our Clarity Coaching Program .
Using this scorecard, you score each potential niche from 1 to 5 based on the following factors:
- EXPERIENCE . How would you rate your experience with this niche?
- EXPERTISE . How would you rate your status as an expert within this niche?
- RESULTS . How would you rate your confidence that you can deliver results for this niche?
- POTENTIAL . How would you rate this niche’s growth and how willing they are to hire consultants?
- INTEREST . How would you rate your interest in this niche?
- ACCESS . How would you rate your ability to speak with ideal clients in this niche?
In the Clarity Coaching Program for Consultants , we also teach you about the different layers of specialization, how to find and validate your ideal client’s potential, how to do outreach to potential clients, and more.
By going through these exercises, you’ll figure out which niche is best for you to start with.
Picking a niche and defining your ideal client is the foundation on which you’ll build your business — and get clients.
You shouldn’t move on with your consulting business plan until you’ve defined your ideal client.
Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the next part: Magnetic Messaging.
3. Magnetic Messaging
- “What message will get my ideal client’s attention?”
That’s the third question you’ll answer on your consulting business plan.
You’ve picked your business model.
You’ve defined your ideal client.
Now, you’ll write a message designed to get your ideal client’s attention.
We’ve created a formula to make writing this message as simple as possible: Magnetic Messaging.
Here’s the formula:
I help [WHO] to [solve WHAT problem] so they can [see WHAT results]. My [WHY choose me]…
Let’s break each part of the formula down.
- WHO : Who you serve.
- WHAT (Problem): What problem you solve for them.
- WHAT (Result): What result you create for them.
- WHY : Why they should choose you.
Why does this message grab your ideal client’s attention?
- It speaks to who they are.
- It mentions what problem they have.
- It showcases what result they can get.
- It differentiates you from others who might provide a similar service.
When your message contains these 4 elements, it will draw interest from your ideal clients. They’ll want to learn more.
They’ll browse your marketing materials, read your articles, sign up for your email list, and reach out to you for conversations.
Effective messaging is the foundation of your marketing: what you communicate to the marketplace to get your ideal client’s attention.
You won’t write the perfect message on your first try.
But you do need to write a first draft — and actually put it to work in the marketplace.
Once you’ve written down your first magnetic message, it’s time to start planning your strategic offer.
4. Strategic Offers
- “What can I offer my ideal client — and at what price point?”
That’s the 4th question you’ll answer on your consulting business plan.
With clarity around your ideal client and a message that grabs their attention…
…you must create an offer — a service — that solves their problems and gets them the result that they want.
The classic custom consulting service is the “full engagement.”
After you engage in a meaningful sales conversation with your prospective client, you’ll send them a consulting proposal .
In your proposal, instead of including one option, you’ll include three:
Option 1 – $
- Basic offer
- Minimum effort required
- Provides value
- Lowest investment
Option 2 – $$
- Help them reach results quicker than option 1
- Provides more value than option 1 (ideally, without having to spend more time)
- Higher investment
Option 3 – $$$
- If money isn’t an issue
- Best results
- Shortest time to result
- Highest investment
Map out the different options you’ll offer your prospects.
Take a look at the marketing consulting example below for an idea of how the 3 different options might look:
However, we recommend you start with a discovery offer .
A discovery offer is a smaller service (priced at $1.5K to $15K). You design it to get your client a quick, low-risk win.
Your discovery offer helps get your “foot in the door” with the client. Once you get them that quick, low-risk win, they’ll trust your expertise. This will open the door for larger projects with the same client.
Discovery offers are easier to sell, create, and deliver.
Here’s our discovery offer checklist:
- Align with what the buyer wants
- Is a logical first step
- Leads to the next steps
- Ranges between $1.5K to $15K
- Provides tangible benefits (growth, clarity, etc)
Of course, you’ll also have to set your consulting fees .
You can use the hourly method, the fixed-rate method, the value-based method , or the retainer method.
Pricing is an incredibly complex and deep topic. But you’ll have to pick a price to start with and adjust it based on the feedback you get.
Never sell yourself short. Remember: pricing is marketing. If you can deliver your clients results, then charge what you’d feel good about.
Once you’ve mapped out your 3 engagement options and a discovery offer, you’re ready to take your offers to the marketplace — and start winning consulting business.
5. Marketing Engine/Sales Pipeline
- “How am I going to create conversations with my ideal client?”
This is the final question you’ll answer on your consulting business plan.
And it’s where you start to see real results: winning clients, delivering projects, and earning revenue.
However, according to our How To Become A Consultant Study , marketing and sales are where consultants struggle the most.
Your Marketing Engine is what you’re doing every day to get in front of your ideal clients.
Your Sales Pipeline organizes all of the leads who come into contact with you.
Let’s start with your pipeline.
Your pipeline is organized into 6 columns:
- LEAD . You’ve identified the prospective client and have begun reaching out to them to set-up a conversation.
- CONVERSATION . You’ve had a sales conversation with the prospective client.
- PROPOSAL . You’ve sent a proposal to the prospective client.
- WIN . The prospective client has accepted your proposal and you won the business.
- LOSS . The prospective client has declined your proposal and you lost the business.
- NURTURE . Most people you reach out to won’t be ready to buy or make a decision right away. In fact, even people who say ‘No’ to a proposal now, may buy from you later as long as you stay top of mind through your nurture process.
All of your prospective clients fit into one of these 6 categories.
Using a CRM to create and organize this pipeline will help you organize your marketing and sales efforts.
Marketing is what fills up your “lead” column.
Without marketing, you won’t have any leads. And without leads, you won’t have the chance to win new business.
We organize marketing for consultants in 3 different categories:
- Outreach: Reaching out to your ideal clients to initiate conversations.
- Follow-Ups: Following up with your ideal clients to initiative conversations.
- Authority Building : Creating content for your ideal clients that demonstrates your expertise and adds value — and helps create conversations.
A basic Marketing Engine will have you doing a mix of these different methods every day.
Every day, you want to be reaching out to new clients, following up with your leads, and creating content that demonstrates your expertise and adds value.
The type of marketing you focus on also depends on the stage of your business .
If you’re a newer consultant, you’ll rely more on outreach. You don’t have as much of an audience for authority content to work yet.
But if you’re a later-stage consultant, you’ll rely more on content. Your content has a farther reach, and can generate leads at scale.
For your business plan, focus on setting up a pipeline that is easy to track, and creating the right marketing habits to fill up your leads column.
At this stage, your plan is done.
It’s time to start taking action.
Imperfect Action: Write Your Entrepreneurial Consultant Business Plan
By answering these 5 questions…
…you’ll write a consulting business plan that enables you to take action.
We’ve included dozens of articles, studies, and guides on how to answer these 5 questions.
However, in consulting, execution is more important than your plan.
For every hour you spend on planning, you should spend 4 hours on putting your plan into action.
So, use our resources to help answer these 5 questions — and go build your consulting business.
Ready to Take Your Consulting Business to the Next Level?
Apply to join our Clarity Coaching Program , the place where dedicated consultants go to get a personalized plan, strategy, coaching and support to grow a successful consulting business.
If you’re committed and serious about growing your consulting business, then this customized coaching program is for you.
We’ll work hands on with you to develop a strategic plan and then dive deep and work through your ideal client clarity, strategic messaging, consulting offers, fees, and pricing, business model optimization, and help you to set up your marketing engine and lead generation system to consistently attract ideal clients.
Schedule a FREE growth session today to apply for our limited capacity Clarity Coaching Program by clicking here .
Leave a Comment, Join the Conversation! Cancel reply
Your Email will be kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Consulting Business Plan Template
Written by Dave Lavinsky
Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their consulting businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a consulting business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today. It can be used to create a business consulting business plan, a management consulting business plan or any other type of consultancy business plan.
Download our Consulting Business Plan Template here
What Is a Consulting Firm Business Plan?
A business plan provides a snapshot of your consulting firm as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.
Why You Need a Consulting Firm Business Plan
Source of Funding for Consulting Firms
With regards to funding, the main sources of capital raising for a consulting business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.
The second most common form of funding for a consulting business is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding, or, like a bank, they will give you a loan.
Sample Consulting Business Plan Template
Your business plan should include 10 sections as follows:
The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of consulting business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a starting a consulting firm, or do you have a consulting business that you would like to grow?
Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the consulting industry. Discuss the type of consulting business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target market. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.
In your company analysis, you will detail the type of consulting business you are operating.
For example, you might operate one of the following types:
- IT Consulting : this type of consulting business designs custom software, plans for IT system infrastructure, and/or manages computer systems and data processing facilities.
- Management Consulting : this type of consulting business provides advice to businesses, nonprofits, and agencies in various areas such as corporate strategy, marketing, organizational design, etc.
- Environmental Consulting : this type of consulting business provides advice on environmental issues such as pollution, hazardous materials, etc.
- Human Resources Consulting : this type of consulting business provides advice for structuring HR and personnel policies, employee benefits, compensation, recruitment, and retention
- Other Business Consulting : there is nearly a limitless number of areas in which people need and will pay for consulting services
In addition to explaining the type of consulting business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.
Include answers to questions such as:
- When and why did you start the business?
- What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales objectives, sales goals you’ve reached, new office openings, new products, etc.
- Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.
While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.
First, researching the consulting industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.
Secondly, market research can improve your strategy particularly if your research identifies market trends.
The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.
The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your consulting business plan:
- How big is the consulting business (in dollars)?
- How big is your niche (e.g., management consulting) within the consulting business (in dollars)?
- Is the market declining or increasing?
- Who are the key competitors in the market?
- Who are the key suppliers in the market?
- What trends are affecting the industry?
- What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
- What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your consulting firm? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.
The customer analysis section of your consulting business plan must detail the clients you serve and/or expect to serve.
The following are examples of customer segments: Corporations, Federal Government, Nonprofits, Consumers, etc.
As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of consulting business you operate. Clearly, nonprofit organizations would want different pricing and service options and would respond to different marketing promotions than the federal government.
Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the business sizes and types, or consumer ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the clients you seek to serve.
Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target audience. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your clients.
Direct competitors are other consultants and consulting firms.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes doing it themselves and in-house expertise among others. You need to mention such competition to show you understand that not every company or consumer engages a consultant.
With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other consulting businesses with which you compete.
For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:
- What types of customers do they serve?
- What services do they offer?
- What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
- What are they good at?
- What are their weaknesses?
The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:
- Will you provide superior services?
- Will you provide services that your competitors don’t offer?
- Will you make it easier or faster for customers to engage your services?
- Will you offer better pricing?
Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.
Product : in the product section you should reiterate the type of consulting business that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific consulting services you will be offering. For example, in addition to IT infrastructure consulting, will you also offer an IT Security component?
Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the consulting services you offer and their prices.
Place : Place refers to the location of your consulting business. Document your location and mention how the location might impact your consulting success. For example, maybe your consulting business is located in an office complex with lots of potential clients.
Promotions : the final part of your consultant marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider as a consultant:
- Pay-per-click keyword advertising
- Providing seminars or keynote presentations
- Advertising in local papers and magazines
- Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
- Social media advertising
- Local radio advertising
While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.
Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your consulting business such as serving clients, prospecting new clients, procuring supplies, keeping the office clean, etc.
Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 100th client, or when you hope to reach $X in sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or open a new location.
Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in the consulting business. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.
If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in consulting businesses and/or successfully running small businesses.
An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.
In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you serve 5 clients per month or 25? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.
While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on building out your consulting business, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.
Cash Flow Statement
Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.
In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a consulting business:
- Location build-out including design fees, construction, etc.
- Cost of maintaining an infrastructure (i.e. data warehouse, database subscriptions, etc.)
- Payroll or salaries paid to staff
- Business insurance
- Taxes and permits
- Legal expenses
- Other expenses
Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your consulting business plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office design blueprint or location lease.
Putting together a business plan for your consulting firm is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the consulting business, your competition, and your prospective clients. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful consulting business.
Finish Your Consulting Business Plan in 1 Day!
Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your consulting business plan?
With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!
OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You
Since 1999, Growthink has developed consulting business plans for thousands of companies that have gone on to achieve tremendous success.
Click here to see how Growthink’s business plan consulting services can create your business plan for you.
Consulting Business Plan FAQs
What is the easiest way to complete my consulting business plan.
Growthink's Ultimate Consulting Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Consulting Business Plan.
How Do I Download a Free Consulting Business Plan PDF?
You can download our consulting business plan PDF template here . This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.
Five top tips for writing a good consulting business plan · 1. Write the first draft. Don't worry about grammar, structure or neatness. · 2. Do your research.
Get help starting and running your small business at SBA.gov. We Can Do It Consulting. Business Plan. Rebecca Champ, Owner. Created on December
I wrote several business plans while obtaining my MBA from the University at Buffalo. But, for some reason, I totally skipped that part when it
What are the Steps To Start a Consulting Business? · 1. Develop A · 2. Choose Your Legal Structure · 3. Register Your · 4. Identify Financing Options · 5. Choose a
1.1 Objectives · Gain access to an SBA loan upon start up. · Grow the company from 2 employees in Year 1, to over 10 by Year 5. · Increase revenue to over $3
BSC offers a list of services for business owners to choose from, depending on their particular business needs. This includes; business and marketing plan
Six-Figure Blueprint · Outreach: Reaching out to your ideal clients to initiate conversations. · Follow-Ups: Following up with your ideal clients to initiative
A business plan provides a snapshot of your consulting firm as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business
Key elements of a management consulting business plan · Two-page executive summary · Target audience · Market analysis · Leadership bios.