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Working with a Startup to Prepare a Business Plan

I am delighted to publish a Case Study of and testimonial for my work. It outlines in detail how I worked with a specific client to prepare a business plan for their business. It details the time involved and the process and methodology.


Download the Business Plan Write-Up Case Study


What is the Case Study about?


The document addresses in detail (19 pages) how Donncha worked with a real client to prepare a business plan. It details the project management process along with a detailed overview of the methodology used in preparing both the business plan document and the financial projections which are an integral part of the process and output.



1. Introduction & Background

2. About Device Smart (the Client)

3. The Process – 3 Days On Site

4. The Business Plan

5. The Client’s View – A Testimonial

6. Conclusion – is this process relevant to your business?



Wood from trees


What is the job of a Business Plan?


A business plan must communicate (not in rank order of importance):


1- The essence of the business in terms of its vision and ‘raison d’être’[1]

2- Who exactly is the customer and why they will buy from you and not the competition

3- The market opportunity … how many potential customers and trends in the market

4- The business model … how you are going to make money … to include route to market

5- How is the opportunity going to be embraced … how are you going to market and sell to realise the potential of the business

6- How do you see growth in the business

7- What is the reason for writing the plan … do you need investment, a loan, to hire employees, or is it an operational and action plan for the business

8- What has the business achieved to date and what is the current status in terms of product development (is it market ready) and market validation (do you have reference customers)

9- What is the plan of action for the future … and do the financials stack up.

10- What is the background of the Team (to include non-traditional team) that makes this business plan credible and compelling

[1] a French phrase meaning “reason for existence”



Why use an External Consultant to Write Your Business Plan?


Writing a business plan is not easy. It is firstly time consuming and secondly entrepreneurs can find it difficult to express themselves and to get the message across. It is actually very easy to get consumed within the document which becomes a behemoth – it can be difficult to see the Wood from the Trees. But business plans are required by businesses at a point in time particularly if external funding is required. The process can crucially provide a stimulus for questioning of the fundamentals of the business.


business plan preparation can be at the same time frustrating yet essential and provide huge benefit in terms of establishing a shared vision for the future of the business.



My thesis is that an external person should be retained to manage the business plan write-up process. They have an eye on the end goal but can also handle the detail:


► Manage the process of eliciting all the pertinent information on the business … by asking the right questions.

► Knowing how to structure the business plan and communicate the key detail of the plan succinctly yet powerfully … by being a wordsmith with an understanding of the essentials of business particularly the investor viewpoint.

► Develop robust financial projections … by fundamentally understanding Sales, Costs and the Business Model.

► By delivering a fantastic end product that encapsulates the business .. by project managing the entire process to include delivery of the final document.


If you feel that you could benefit from such an approach, then feel free to get in touch.


Donncha Hughes


p.s  The pdf is free to download, Business Plan Write-Up Case Study. Thanks in advance for sharing this article on Social Media



8 Responses so far.

  1. I can very much relate to this article.
    I am very fortunate to be a 2014 New Frontiers participant.
    The essence of the New Frontiers programme is to bring the participant and their “idea” from an “idea” to an investor-ready business plan.
    The programme guided us through the process of researching and planning a business idea. When it was time to write the business plan, we were very grateful to have assistance and guidance from Donncha. In our case we wrote the draft plan based on Enterprise Ireland’s template.
    Donncha was able to give us regular feedback on our content. Thanks to this feedback and guidance our plan is less verbose and straight to the point. We identified areas that were weak and improved them, we omitted aspects that were not applicable to our startup business. We definitely would have wasted lots of time attempting to put together a coherent set of financial projections without Donncha’s assistance. We worked through several scenarios in the projections and settled on a model that we felt was realistic and defendable.
    Donncha then identified some items that were missing from the executive summary. Business plan fatigue was setting in at this stage and it was invaluable to have an experienced business plan writer to identify our omissions and mistakes.

    In my opinion, unless you are an experienced business plan writer, it is a good idea, if not essential, to get help with writing it. Otherwise it’s the bin for yet another business plan.

    • Cathal – fair play for the positive comment. I personally am privileged to be in a position where courageous people like you in the midst of their startup see if to ask me for my advice and input. Best of luck with Sareform and keep the faith.

  2. As a past New Frontiers student I am used to writing in both descriptive and scientific formats. I have written business plans which have been thoroughly commended by lecturers and business mentors alike. So when I saw a business planning workshop timetabled I was interested to see what changes might be suggested.

    Donnacha conducted workshops and one to one sessions on business planning with our group. At the time I had a working business plan up and running. I had already re-drafted this a number of times and was fairly happy that I had managed to answer all the questions asked adequately. I had used a format that had been recommended by a previous mentor because I was assured it would be appropriate considering the funding path I was anticipated to follow. I would also like to mention at this point that this document was probably about the same length as War & Peace!

    I have to admit that it took a while for me to come around to the fact that my epic document needed a little more than a rejig but it did. Donnacha explained that the format I had used wasn’t appropriate for my business at the stage it was at. I had been answering questions/headings that had no relevance to my business. Anyone apt at reading such texts would see the holes and start to pick them apart heading by heading. I think it takes someone who creates business plans professionally to really understand what should stay and what should go. I now know I wouldn’t have the confidence or understanding to make those decisions.

    After a lengthy discussion with Donnacha on the business plan we decided to start from scratch. From here the process was very straight forward. Donnacha knew my business, the stage I was at, what I was trying to achieve and the audience I was trying to target. He took the guts of my previous business plan, re-organised the financial section and reformatted the rest. He added some sections and took away others. The result was like watching one of those home makeover shows where they start with something messy, disjointed and unworkable and turn it into a fresh, clean-lined practical space that works for everyone.

    I understand that sometimes you are required to create a business plan to give the potential investor a document that suits their ‘tick box’ criteria. However for the rest of us perhaps a clean-lined, logical document with a format that fits the business in question as I received from Donnacha would suffice!

  3. “The Business Plan! Most people dread this one, but since we sat down to discuss what the business plan was for, you really made me understand the importance of this document for the future of my business. So many people think the business plan is just about funds – but it’s not. As an entrepreneur we very quickly learn how to be a “jack of all trades” but it’s not long before we realise that we can also be a “master of none”.

    Thankfully you stepped in to help in this area as I tend to ramble on (you can’t tell can you?) You made me really figure out why I was doing it, who was it for, what was it for and did it actually represent what I wanted for my business. Just a few short days after submitting my forty pager to you [sorry about that!] you delivered a sharp, sophisticated and matter of fact business plan that helped me secure a substantial start-up fund from AIB plus my private investment!

    This is one of the most important documents I use and it has probably changed about 12 times now, even since then (the MediStori is moving faster than I am!) Anyway, I want to say thank you so much for making me do what I used think was a painful exercise, to now be a monthly planner which I have pinned to my noticeboard in the office. Whether it’s a two pager or a forty pager, every business, small to large needs one – and if you haven’t got time (like myself) I’d highly recommend grabbing a cuppa with Donncha and let him put your visions to paper. Thanks so much Donncha, and I won’t forget you when I make my millions! 🙂

    • Thanks Olive, the MediStori is a wonderful startup story with many twists and turns. Thanks for letting me be involved and I look forward to more ‘cuppas’ and sharing in those millions but I know that is not why you do it.

  4. […] For more detail on the Business Action Plan see my very detailed case study on how I write business plans for clients as this provides all the background detail for the final step in the model – the business plan as outlined in this blogpost. […]

  5. […] to startups and SMEs to include Fusion and Acumen and of course the Seedcorn Competition (see my business plan case study about a client company which won a Regional award of €20,000 in […]

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