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Should You Pay $400 For a Business Plan?

The post was written by Marie at Family Money Values where she wants to help families understand the potential consequences of wealth.  She encourages visitors to take the long view and pull all family generations together to nourish the family legacy and wealth.

Family Money Values is a website about wealth to help families maintain and build wealth for generations by helping visitors learn about wealth issues; wealth transfer tools; family structures to consider; and family and business governance concerns.


Thomas Stanley and William Danko, in The Millionaire Next Door, state that 2/3 of the millionaires they surveyed have their own business.  If you want to be a millionaire, perhaps you are dreaming of starting your own business. 

Did you know that  about half of new businesses fail within the first five years, according to the Business Dynamics Statistics put out by the Census Department.  What is the best investment you can make to give your new business better odds?

My best money tip for business start ups is to invest in yourself by attending a FastTrac New Venture course. 

What Is FastTrac New Venture?

FastTrac programs were first launched through the University of Southern California’s Entrepreneur Program. In 1993, the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation launched it’s first FastTrac class and became the major funder and supporter of the program.  In 1997 they bought it.  The program continues to evolve and innovate and has been utilized by more than 300,000 people across the nation.  There are currently several courses that can be taken in various locales, including New Venture, Growth Venture and Tech Venture.  New Venture and Growth Venture can even be taken online now.

When I went through the program in 2010, the cost was $400 for ten weekly sessions, each 3.5 hours long.  It was offered in the evenings so working folks could attend.  That works out to about $13 per hour of instruction.

Now at least one location is, according to the online website is  offering 5 weeks of coursework with each weekly session being 7 hours long for $495.  

What You Get

  • Meet ups in a class full of entrepreneurs of all ages and experiences
  • Multiple experienced coaches and teachers
  • Actual business or professional people from your geographic area as a speaker for almost each session
  • A step by step program to explore your goals, your idea, the feasibility of your idea, and to develop each piece of your business plan for your idea
  • Practice with unfamiliar concepts
  • Review of your business plan at each stage of it’s development and a final review of the entire plan by your coach
  • Practice presenting your business  plan, your elevator speech and your business concept
  • Networking opportunities with your classmates, your teachers and coaches, and the speakers coming into the sessions
  • Resources to use now and later:

Why Spend the Money or the Time?

The course is centered around building a business plan.  The jury is out on whether or not business plans actually help with success of a business.  Why would you plunk down $400 or more dollars and spend many hours in a classroom for this? 

Does it ensure that you make money?  Does it make you stay in business?  Does it even guarantee a killer business plan? The answer to all of those questions is no. 

What it does give you, however, is an in depth look at yourself and your business idea – helping you get that “laser focus on what results you want.” as Marin Kate put it on March 8, 2011 in The Three Best Investments You Can Make in Your Virtual Startup .  Although centered around building a business plan, the course gives you so much more.  It gives you the chance to take a good hard look from all angles and the opportunity to say, “Oh, no, that really won’t work.”  It can grow your original idea into an offshoot with a better chance of succeeding or it can save you all of the start up costs you might have had for a really bad idea.

I still refer back to the resources and plans I developed in my FastTrac class.  My research and documentation, including the plan, still guide my activities and help me set my quarterly goals. 

Would You Spend the Money?

For my business, Fast Trac was worth the cost and the time.  What do you think?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I personally would find other resources, because $400 is a little expensive for my budget but if I had more leg room, I’d probably go for it.

    • $400 is a lot to part with in the beginning isn’t it? I guess it totally depends on the potential outcome. If the business idea could yield $100,000 per year, then sure, it’s worth $400 in the beginning. But, if it’ll only make around $1,000 or less, then it’s best to go as cheap as possible.

  2. Considering there are free online business plan builders, I think I’d start there. $400 is a lot of cash if you’re just starting out – especially in this economic environment!

    • I agree with you Rich. I started my site with less than $50 and I’m doing great! As of this month, I should be making more than $500 a month with this site alone! 🙂

  3. No, because I have prepared a number of Business Plans and I could probably do it faster. The benefit of preparing your own business plan is total involvement in the results. Being intimately familiar with the details is importat.

  4. @20 – That makes sense. There are other ways to get the knowledge and experience.
    @krantcents – Right – you don’t pay to learn something you already know!

  5. As a business major graduate, $400 sounds cheap for a business plan as compared to other plans that cost thousands of dollars. However, I think it’s better to make your own business plan as you will come across many issues in your research that you didn’t initially think of when you came up with the new business idea. I have created many business plans and think making your own is a great learning experience, it could even help you develop your competitive advantage angle.

    Statistics regarding new businesses failing within the first few years are quite high – I’ve even heard up toward 80%+. I definately agree, that it’s important to either spend the time or the money on a business plan before jumping right into the new venture.

    • Very true. I actually started this website with no plan whatsoever! I paid $50 for a year’s worth of hosting and thought that I would make a few bucks. I had no idea that it was even possible to make more income than a regular full-time job! Now that I understand, I’m definitely starting to plan.

      Thanks for the comment World of Finance!

  6. I also think $400 is a little expensive. With some good research I think you can do it yourself. And beside keeping the money you also learn something new.

  7. If you are a business minded person, money is not a problem. Some say its cheap, some say its really expensive. How will this be solved if we don’t have the same thoughts.

  8. @World of Finance – I agree,you should make your own plan and in fact, the FastTrac class forces you do to do so – but gives you help understanding what should go in it and feedback on what you put in it.

    @John – Yep, you can get the same information online. I did like the feedback part though.

    @Angeline – I think most business people do understand that sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

  9. I agree with Angeline, if you want to grow with your business spending money is not the problem anymore, the problem is the competitors who like to compete you all through out that’s why business men will do anything for their business even spending a lot of money.

  10. When it comes to establishing business spending money is not a matter anymore because in business you are ready to risk anything just for the goodness of your business.

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