Business Consulting Business Plan
Growth Management and Strategies (GMS) is an ambitious innovative new company that is attempting to turn the small business consulting business on its head. With an experienced consultant at the helm as President, GMS intends to grow at more than 50% per year through solid customer service, a great sales plan, proven competitive strategies, and a group of people that bring dynamic energy to the company and the sales process.
The goal for this plan is financial: GMS needs a Small Business Adminstration (SBA) loan, and this document is one step in the process. It is also a road map for the company. The document gives all present and future employees, as well as the owner a sense of purpose that may exist without the business plan, but becomes more relevant after the business plan is written, reviewed, shared, and edited by all. It is a living document that will last far beyond the SBA loan purpose, or if that doesn’t occur, to bring an investor on board.
GMS’s financials are realistic, and based on very conservative sales figures relative to the industry as a whole. That is because one of the goals of GMS is to build the business one client at a time, and to serve each client as if it were the last. This is how loyalty is generated, and cultivated. Customer service is what GMS will do best, and is a large part of the company’s overall mission.
The objectives for Growth Management and Strategies are:
- 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 million by Year 3.
- Increase client base by 450% in three years.
- Maintain job costing that keeps margins above 70%.
The company mission is to serve small business clients that are in need of logistical, technical, and business strategy services. All projects will be chosen based on the availability of human resources, and each individual employee will be given the respect of a contract worker, and will share in profits for each job. Politics have no place at Growth Management and Strategies, and to limit the affects of favoritism, the company will implement and clearly communicate a performance review policy that applies to those at the bottom as well as the top of the leadership ladder. Credit will be given to the person who performed and/or innovatively modified a project, and compensation will be both financial and in the form of commendation.
Growth Management and Strategies is a company that respects the needs and expectations of its employees and clients. If either is compromised, adjustments will be made so that the company culture may remain intact.
1.3 Keys to Success
Our keys to success are:
- To maintain client satisfaction of at least 90%.
- To keep overhead low.
- To ensure professional marketing and presentation of services.
- To provide an active and functional website.
Growth Management and Strategies was established as a C corporation. The company’s headquarters are located in Boston, MA, near Copely Place. The company was established as a result of the efforts of its owner, Bill Dawson, and his experience in leading small businesses into prolonged periods of growth and innovation. Dawson worked for McKinsey before being hired away to Bain and Company. A Harvard graduate, Dawson spent hundreds of hours each week for nearly a year, slowly building the company to where it is now.
The company has had numerous successes this year, including one client that was purchased by a major multinational conglomerate, and another that experienced product sales growth of over 700% the first year.
2.1 Start-up Summary
This start-up summary table lists all the costs associated with establishing a lease, purchasing office equipment, and pulling together the other resources necessary to get the business off the ground. Furniture, LAN lines, and additional technology purchases are a must in order to properly communicate with clients, and to establish a website.
Other services included in the start-up summary are legal consulting fees, kept to a minimum thanks to resources provided by Nolo. Incorporation fees are included in the legal fees line item.
The free cash flow (cash balance) appearing in this start-up table is high relative to other small consulting businesses of its size. The owner is preoccupied with maintaining positive cash flow, and is risk averse enough to understand that during months in which contracts are not available, the corporation must sustain itself. With this said, planned debt leverage is low, therefore risk to the lender is relatively low as well.
2.2 Company Ownership
Growth Management and Strategies is wholly owned by Bill Dawson, and is classified as an LLC.
Growth Management and Strategies offers a variety of services to the small business client. Many of the services are customized for each client, and a bidding process is observed. The company also offers a traditional fixed rate sheet for its services.
Market Analysis Summary
The target customer owns a small business, and is generally dissatisfied with the revenue that the business is generating, or is dissatisfied with the daily management of their business. The customer is likely to operate a business worth between $200K and $10 million, with growth rates of between 1-10%, or even a negative growth rate.
Market growth, that is, the predicted growth in the small business sector within the Boston/Cambridge Metro area is expected to be around 3% per year. This may increase due to additional SBA lending programs designed to match the strengths of research and faculty grant work with the needs of the market and small businesses willing to take new products to market. Regardless of the market growth, the company’s customer base is far more dependant upon service needs, and a solid reputation. Mr. Dawson is well respected within the community, and has built a number of relationships with high profile individuals, and is a frequent contributor to the business section of the Boston Herald.
The corresponding market analysis table below breaks the potential market down into tactical sub-markets.
4.1 Market Segmentation
The market is divided up by revenue in the initial analysis, although other factors are very significant. It is important that the client business is operating at about the same level as the general economic growth rate, or is underperforming. The need for a turnaround within the client company is necessary for Growth Management and Strategies’ expertise to become useful. The following are other differentiators:
- Debt of more than 30% yearly revenue.
- Free cash flow frequently in the negative, requiring deep pocket borrowing or investment.
- Long-term growth underperforming relative to competitors.
- Management discord and performance issues.
These are not the only differentiators used to determine the market potential for a client, they are simply a starting point for the sales team as they reach out to this group of small businesses, owners and investors.
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
The target market strategy involves isolating potential customers by revenue, then drilling down to very specific needs via the sales team’s needs analysis methodology.
The first tier customers, businesses with over $3 million in revenue, is more experienced in outsourcing and may find themselves more comfortable hiring Growth Management and Strategies on retainer. Strategically, a retainer helps maintain consistent cash flow, even if during some months these customers will require more services than what they have paid for that month. This issue will be addressed in the Personnel topic.
The second tier customers, those businesses operating at revenue levels of $501K – $3 million, typically are very excited to have moved out of the home office stage, and into a new level of stability. If they are self-funded, these businesses can be the most challenging to work with because they are often not willing to part with company shares, and don’t yet have a sense of what kind of marketing investment is necessary to grow a business at this stage. The company will serve these small businesses based on a bid cycle, and needs analysis.
The third tier customers are easier to identify, and more ubiquitous than the rest. These small businesses are operating on $200K – $500K in revenue, often are operating out of a home, and have a firm sense of their market and potential, yet have trouble executing their plans effectively, or following through on growth strategies that generate wealth. Again, the strategy is to provide these businesses with a short needs analysis, and focus on the quantity of such customers to maintain a solid revenue stream.
4.3 Service Business Analysis
This industry is split up between a variety of players, including small businesses advising small businesses, such as the case with Growth Management and Strategies, to large conglomerate multinational consulting firms that send in newbie MBAs and use their name recognition to convince their clients that every one of these MBAs will generate over $300K a year in value. Sometimes they do, but when they don’t, GMS plans to be there.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are a wide variety of mom and pop consulting firms owned by very talented people who simply don’t have the marketing resources or expertise to reach a broader spectrum of customer.
GMS is somewhere in between. With years of guerrilla marketing experience, and a long-term plan for success, Mr. Dawson is determined to build the company each client at a time, and to focus on a sales team that outperforms all the competitors.
GMS is planning to grow exponentially within the first two years, to over $2 million in consulting revenue. At this point the service business analysis will be re-evaluated from the outside in.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
Typically small business clients will learn about the consulting services market through word-of-mouth experience passed on through a friend or contemporary. Still, outbound sales teams dominate this category, and the stronger your sales team and name recognition, the greater your odds of finding clients willing to place your company on retainer or accept your company’s bid. The most competitive players in this market tend to have some of the best sales teams in the industry, that is, people who know not only how to communicate the technical needs analysis in a non-technical way, but in addition, are able to follow through and execute on promises and provide accurate, industry specific information that is useful to the client even before the deal is made.
Price is also important, and operates on a complex tiered system that is dependant upon the effectiveness of a particular salesperson, the word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising already in the mind of the potential client, and the ability of the client to reform the way they think about their own business. The demands of turning a business around, or pushing it to the limits of its potential are in direct proportion to the price of each bid. GMS must be careful not to be lured into out bidding a competitor, only to find that the customer has no plans to modify their business plan, and are seeking a “magic bullet” that may or may not exist. Competition in this industry leads to frustration and burnout for many people, and it takes a strong sense of purpose to push the business beyond the realm of the high-intensity, low-return client.