Having a business plan is like having a battle plan: you might not always decide to follow it, depending on the situation, but you still need it to map out a road to success. While it’s common practice to ask an attorney or business owner to create a business plan for a financial consulting firm, you don’t need to. The truth is that no one knows your business goals better than you, so it’s better to try to put it together yourself, and only then ask a professional to check it out. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of creating a business plan, explaining what types of plans there are, which type of business plan is best for a financial firm, and what your business plan should include in order to work for you. We’ll also provide you with a checklist that will help you quickly validate your business plan.
What is a financial consulting firm business plan?
A business plan is a detailed strategy you create to document achievable and measurable business goals and to set up an action plan that will let you reach your goals. It often includes financial projections, a flexible marketing plan, and market research. You should also add your business’s mission statement to it and note who is responsible for each step of your plan.
There are numerous reasons why you might need a business plan. First of all, while creating it, you are clarifying your vision and goals, identifying potential obstacles, and communicating your ideas to your team. Secondly, you are setting up a roadmap that will let you sync your team’s actions to ensure you are all on the same page.
A business plan’s purpose often comes to these three main ideas:
- to summarize the general strategy of your firm and ensure it can be executed long term
- to secure financing from your investors
- to predict future demands and competition
What type of business plan to choose
There are several types of business plans, and each one has its advantages. However, not all of them might suit a financial firm, let alone satisfy your investors if you have them. Let’s overview the three main types of business plans and determine which one is best for a financial consulting firm.
Lean Startup plan
If you have read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, you might have already guessed that this type of business plan incorporates the most powerful ideas from his book, such as what brings value to your client and assessing services’ value capabilities.
Lean Startup plan is focused on helping your business quickly test and validate your business ideas. It is often used by startups and early-stage businesses to create a roadmap for their business, with a focus on identifying and testing key assumptions about their market and target audience.
As you work on your financial consulting company’s business plan , you can use a lean Startup plan and then build on it as you evolve.
Operational (internal) business plan
This type of plan is used by businesses to guide their internal operations. It also affects decision-making on all levels, incorporating insights on staffing, budgets, and performance metrics. While it is more detailed than a Lean Startup plan, this kind of business plan often only involves operations and cannot fully cover the needs of a financial consulting company. However, you can make it a part of your main business plan.
Traditional business plan
This type of plan is more comprehensive and detailed and is often used by established businesses to outline their strategy and operations. It includes sections on market analysis, company description, service offerings, marketing and sales strategy, operations, and financial projections.
For a financial advising company, a traditional business plan would be the best choice because it is focused on what is important for attracting investors and communicating the company’s vision to stakeholders. It also often has sections on market analysis, which are critical for understanding the competitive landscape and differentiating the company from competitors.
Additionally, a traditional business plan provides a framework for measuring progress, which is important for financial advising companies that need to be agile and adaptable in a constantly changing market. By including detailed financial projections, the company can also ensure that it has a clear understanding of its revenue and expense expectations and can make informed decisions about staffing, marketing, and other investments.
What to include in a business plan
There is no such thing as a perfect business plan. You should know this before you start creating one yourself. There are so many factors that affect your financial consulting firm's performance in the short and long run that it’s impossible to predict all of them. However, this doesn’t mean that your business plan won’t work. The idea behind creating a business plan is to identify the possible pitfalls, assess the industry, and create a flexible roadmap that will let you achieve your goals.
Let’s overview what parts you should include in your business plan to make it work.
This part of your business plan is necessary both for you and for your investors. You should keep it short and to the point. Anyone who wants to know how your firm operates and wants a glimpse at the key takeaways and financial needs should be able to find it in your executive summary.
In an executive summary, we recommend answering the following questions:
- What are the ideas behind your business?
- What issues does your firm address, and how does your firm fit into the market?
- What is your pricing strategy?
- How much funding do you need?
- What is the expected return on investment?
- What is the exit strategy?
- How do you plan to divide ownership?
To create an executive summary, pick out the most important points from all areas of your business plan, and give your readers a brief but powerful overview of your business.
This section should provide a detailed description of your company, including its legal structure, mission statement, core values, and key objectives.
You might also want to highlight why you have chosen the legal structure you currently use for your business, referring to the best examples in your niche. Add information on whether you plan to incorporate your business as a C or an S corporation or create a general or limited partnership or if you’re a limited liability company.
We also suggest incorporating an organizational chart to showcase the roles and responsibilities of each individual in your organization as well as how their expertise and experience will contribute to your firm’s success. Furthermore, we suggest including the resumes and CVs of the key members of your team.
Another thing you might want to include in the company description is an analysis of your firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You can use SWOT analysis to analyze internal and external attributes that might affect the success of your business objectives.
We recommend being precise when analyzing your firm. Avoid generalities and go after a detailed advantages list instead (, having a larger portfolio, providing exclusive incentives for long-term clients).
This section of the business plan must include detailed information regarding the current state of the industry and its target markets. For the purpose of industry analysis, relevant reference materials such as spreadsheets, pie charts, and bar graphs should be utilized to effectively represent the associated data.
Pinpoint the sector you operate in and overview it
It is important to research your industry, starting from a local level, and moving to regional and global levels, to learn about best practices. We advise exploring the available statistics and historic data in order to get an understanding of the industry’s nature and potential for growth, taking into account the economic climate.
Create an industry overview
It’s important to provide an overview of the industry’s growth patterns, economic fluctuations, and income projections. Additionally, document recent developments and monitor the news and any emerging innovations. This analysis should also review the marketing strategies and operational and management trends that are currently prevalent in the industry.
Check the industry forecast
Compile economic data and industry predictions, citing all sources. It is essential to consider the type and size of the industry to determine whether it is new and emerging, growing, maturing, or declining.
Learn about the government regulations in the industry
Check out the industry specific laws and any licenses and authorizations required to do business in the target market, along with any associated fees and costs. It is essential to include this information in order to comply with and operate within the scope of the law.
Review the major players
Create a list of the top companies in the industry, along with an overview of data on both direct and indirect competitors. This will aid you in your marketing and sales plan as well as in learning about the most sought after value propositions.
Outline potential risks
Businesses are regularly exposed to a variety of external forces that may have a negative impact on their operations. In this section of your business plan, you should also outline the external factors that might affect your success.
The business plan services section has to become the centerpiece of your plan. This section should describe your financial consulting services in detail, including the types of services you offer, your pricing strategy, and how you plan to differentiate yourself from competitors in terms of value and pricing.
Want to learn about the best pricing models you can use in financial advising? Check out this guide that explores pricing for financial advising services.
We advise you to address the following questions in this section of your business plan:
- Why do your clients need your services? You can hold a research study prior to making any assumptions or use the previously collected data and monitor the trends and tendencies across the industry.
- What are the key features of your services? Here you should include all the client-winning features, and use a detailed description of each feature highlighting its value to your clients.
- How do your services affect your pricing model? Each service you include has its price and value to your clients, but it also has its cost to your company. In this part of your business plan, you have to compare the money you’re spending on providing services to expected profit. Ideally, you would create several pricing models with different services and add forecasts for each one.
A client analysis (or ideal client profile) is a critical section of a company’s business plan. This part of the plan could also be reflected in a marketing plan. It identifies the types of clients you plan to target, ensuring your services match their needs.
To target clients with precision, you should:
- select a market segment to target, considering age range, gender, and other factors relevant to your business
- define the geographic criteria of your clients (their city, region, and state)
- learn your target segment’s average revenue
All these factors have to be defined in your business plan.
In the customer analysis section of the business plan, specify the drivers of clients’ decisions. To help determine these factors, you should discover what makes your clients choose quality over price and what they are looking for in the services you provide.
Finally, it is essential to identify each customer segment you are targeting, as well as the amount of effort you plan to put into reaching them. To do this, you have to determine the total number of clients within each segment and try to forecast the estimated revenue you intend to generate from each segment.
Here are some key elements to include in your business plan’s competitor analysis:
- A list of your main competitors. To identify your competitors, list out firms in your niche that have similar resources, target similar audiences, and have started close to the same time as you. These should be your direct competitors.
- The services your competitors offer. This part of your business plan will highlight how your competitors create client-winning offers. While studying them, you can identify any gaps or opportunities where your business can differentiate itself.
- Client base comparison. Include the type of clients your competitors target, and describe their demographics and preferences. This will help you understand what drives their purchasing behavior.
- Competitors market share. Analyze your competitors’ market share and how they are positioned in the market.
There are many reliable sources that provide client and market information at no cost that you can use for your research. Check out the following sources to see statistics that might interest you:
- North American Classification System (code: 52)
- U.S. Census (look for financial planners and investment management)
- Statistics of U.S. Businesses
- USA.gov statistics
This section should outline your marketing and sales strategy, including how you plan to reach and engage with your target audience, how you plan to convert them into paying customers, and how you expect to retain them.
Check the best ways to boost your business in 2023 from the list of top 15 wealth management marketing ideas!
The operations plan serves as a mechanism for translating plans into action. It’s based on the data obtained from the market analysis, customer assessment, and competitive analysis outlined in the preceding sections of the business plan.
A successful operations plan often answers the following questions:
- Who is responsible for any given task?
- What tasks have to be completed?
- Where will the operations take place?
- How should the tasks be performed?
- How much would it cost to complete the task?
There are various approaches to an operations plan, and there are templates that work best for specific industries. For a financial consulting firm, it’s important to include the following sections in your operations plan:
- Descriptions of short-term processes that make up the tasks your financial consulting firm has to perform (client meetings, report collection)
- Milestones that you aim to reach. Every firm should set their own realistic and measurable goals. For example, one of your milestones might be to reach a specific return on investment rate
One of the standardized approaches for creating an operations plan is to use a priority matrix in Gantt chart that allows you to track each task’s progress. There are a lot of free templates online that you can adjust to your goals. This approach will ensure that your operational plan is both readable and easy to follow.
Financial firms rarely have trouble creating financial plans because this is their specialty. However, there are still questions you have to keep in mind to make your financial plan applicable to your business.
Before creating your financial business plan, ask yourself:
- Do you plan to scale your firm?
- Would you need a larger workforce?
- Would your spending change at some point, and how would that affect your business?
- How will your plan affect your cash flow?
- What amount of external investments do you need and how do you plan to get them?
In your financial plan, you also have to develop financial projections that will help you determine expected revenue based on sales estimates and budgeting for labor, advertising, and operating costs.
Another thing you have to consider is where you will get emergency funds in case your forecasts are too optimistic.
This is the last section of your business plan. While it doesn’t convey any new information, it’s still important to keep any supporting documents, such as resumes of key team members, market research reports, and legal agreements, at hand. Keep it updated, and it will assist you whenever you need quick access to any important data.
Crafting a detailed business plan is critical for financial consulting firms to reach their desired objectives. This plan should assess the company’s ability to cope with external conditions, providing financial estimates and various marketing, operational, and financial plans for progress. Building a tailor-made business plan will increase your chances of long-term success. Subscribe to ExpertBox newsletter to learn more tips on financial consulting firm scalability and processes automation.
A business plan should include the following parts to cover all the important aspects of your business goals and projected milestones:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Industry analysis
- Service offering
- Client analysis
- Competition analysis
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Financial plan
There are several types of business plans, and each one has its advantages:
- Lean Startup plan
- Operational (internal) business plan
- Traditional business plan
A business plan is a detailed strategy you create to document achievable and measurable business goals and to set up a plan of action that will let you reach your goals. A business plan often includes financial projections, a flexible marketing plan, and market research.