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Hi Allan - Maybe!! Do you have an agreement with the designer now? What their scope of work is, how much they are getting paid, etc.
What you need is a "work for hire" statement to be incorporated into a new agreement or have your existing agreement amended to include that.
Basically the work for hire statement says exactly that - they promise to do all of the work described in the agreement for x dollars and upon full payment they have no rights in or to your product and that you own 100% of any and all rights in your product, etc. You can go on to say that that any patents, trademarks, etc. will be in your name and that they agree that they also don`t have any ownership or other rights to the trademark or patent as well.
You should also include some sort of statement that they will never pursue any claim against you and some sort of indemnification that should they try, they will pay any and all of your legal expenses and so on.
If you have spent over a year working on this and I presume several thousands of dollars or more, it would be best to hire a competent attorney that is familiar with work for hire situations to prepare the necessary legal documents with the correct wording.
Spending an extra thousand or two now, can save you a lot of money and grief later.
Running works best for me. During those 30 - 40 minutes of total boredom, there`s nothing much to do, except to think (and making sure you don`t get hit by a truck!!). Some of my best ideas came during a run.
Also some good (business) ideas while in the shower.
Some brilliant ideas while lying in bed, but those usually occur on the nights that I forget to have paper and pen handy. By morning, those thoughts of pure brilliance are long gone:-((
Hi Scott - We never used any of the business plan providers that you mentioned, but I can tell you a little about our own experience.
We put together our first business plan in 1999. We used a quasi-professional group that consisted of a top professor from one of the top business schools along with a team of his top hand-picked MBA students. The cost was $15,000.
It took about 5 - 6 months of research, writing, re-writing, etc. to get it in good shape.
The plan worked, because we got our 1st round of VC financing because of it.
Two years later, we had to put together another business plan. This one was more elaborate, because we had actual financials rather than projections to incorporate. This BP also took about 5 months even though we were able to use a lot of the first plan as a base. It was the financial projections that took the most time. This 2nd BP cost $30,000!!!
We did not get a second round of funding, but it was not due to the BP, it was more about 9/11 and the dot com bust. To make a long story short, 3 years ago we bought out our VC investors for pennies on the dollar - (that`s another story).
To go back to your question. I would be very skeptical of anyone that promises a BP in 7 - 10 days or even 30 days for that matter. They don`t know what your business is, how much research needs to be done on your industry, competition, marketing, etc. Then there are the financial projections and you need a real pro to handle that. I just don`t know how you can expect to get a worthwhile product in 30 days or less for only a few thousand dollars or less.
If you can`t afford to hire a "real" professional firm, then I would go with Palo Alto. They give you some great ideas and templates, but it is all up to you to do the research, writing, financial projections, etc. The truth of the matter is that no one knows your business or idea better than you, so you should be able to put together the best business plan. I actually did most of the rewrites on both of my BPs. I was just paying for someone to give me advise, do the research, and put together a nice package in the format that VCs were looking for. I was too busy running my business to deal with all the details that needed to be dealt with.
Just realize that this is a huge undertaking and it will be much easier and more managable to break it down into small components.
Write your Overview first - this is sort of the summary where you describe your basic idea, the industry, etc. Before jumping in to do a full business plan, do the Executive Summary first. This is essentially a watered down version of the BP but will serve as a great outline for the BP. The BP just has a lot more details. An Executive Summary should be about 5 pages, maybe even less. A full blown BP will be 25 - 50 pages.
In almost all cases, you only send out an Executive Summary to prospective investors. It is only after they show some interest that you send them the full BP.
In some cases, an Executive Summary alone can do the trick.
Hope this helps - Jeff.