On its own, technological savvy or high-tech innovation is a great way to get someone’s attention. But without a sound business plan, you might as well be content to fail. Even the best and brightest ideas need solid, fundamental business basics.

A few months ago, we asked TechRepublic columnist Rick Freedman to write a series of articles on business planning for consultants. As a consultant and one of our most popular writers, Freedman has been hired by dozens of businesses to help guide them from fledgling startup to established company.

His three-part series breaks down business planning into six steps:

  • Business mission
  • Competitive position
  • The potential market for your services
  • Sales and marketing plan
  • Operational plan
  • Costs and revenue forecasts

Each article discusses two of the six steps and includes anecdotes from Freedman’s work as a consultant.

Part one discusses ways that consulting firms can establish a clear mission for their business. For example, Freedman suggests consultants perform a SWOT analysis to help uncover their firm’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats when choosing a mission. He also suggests resources to help you identify your competitors.

In part two, Freedman discusses components of a targeted marketing plan to help consultants discern the geographic and economic marketplace for their consultancy. For example, Freedman suggests that any marketing plan cover these basic questions:

  • How will I make my target market aware of my firm and its services?
  • How will I differentiate my marketing message so my target clients will buy from me instead of my competitors?
  • What mix of marketing efforts will I use to get my message across?
  • How will I sell my services?

In the final installment, Freedman covers the basic elements of a consulting firm’s operational plan and financial forecasts. As in part two, he suggests basic questions that consultancies need to answer. For example, when approaching venture capital firms for funding or framing the plans for a business, Freedman suggests that consultancies be able to describe:

  • The firm’s financial needs to get started or continue operations.
  • The firm’s financial goals.
  • When the firm will be profitable and what type of profitability is expected.
  • What the firm’s cash flow will look like during the next few years.

Do you have a plan?

Does your consulting firm have a business plan that you think would benefit other members of TechRepublic? Send it to us. If we publish it, we’ll send you $50.