Do I Need a Business Plan Before I Start Consulting?

October 03, 2016

Do I Need a Business Plan Before I Start Consulting?

Yes, you do need a business plan to the extent that

  • you’ve thought about your business and have some ideas of what you hope to earn;
  • you’ve researched and know and understand the niche you’re working in;
  • you know where your ideal clients are and who they are, and you have some ideas on how to interact with them;
  • you’ve set down some parameters for yourself regarding hours of work, vacation time, and so on; and
  • you know how you’re going to run your business.

One good thing about setting up as a consultant is that you don’t (in most cases) need a highly detailed plan to take to a bank or potential investors, because the costs involved in setting up are usually minimal.

So, yes, you need a plan. Do you need to spend a lot of time on it? I would say no.

A business plan is just that: a plan. As we all know, you can plan all you want, but that doesn’t mean things will follow your plan. Particularly when you’re starting out in consulting, things will be harder to predict than when you’re a few months or years down the line. So the plan you spent so much time formulating in your first week or two may bear little resemblance to what happens later on.

I worked with a consultant who was almost fanatical about planning. (Hard to imagine, I know.) He spent a lot of time planning—to the extent that I wondered how he ever did any actual work. Once he’d produced a detailed plan (they were all very detailed), he stuck to it slavishly. He did okay, but I always thought it was a mistake that he regarded his plan as something that had to be followed to the letter. After all, things change all the time, and in the consulting world, opportunities arise that you can’t predict when you’re sweating over spreadsheet number seventeen. I guess we’re just different; it worked for him, sort of.

As I look back on when I started out as an independent consultant, I see that I wasted a lot of time downloading sample business plans and trying to prepare a detailed one for my business. I would have used that time better by interacting with potential clients. Copying my consultant friend was definitely not for me, nor is it for most consultants.


As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses.  Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at to learn more.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.