How do I know what your fees are?
As part of our arrangements with the lenders, upon their approval, the client pays a deposit of 25% of our fees to us to start the plan and the Lender pays the balance (75%) to us upon completion of the plan. The lender will usually give you a written offer to provide the 75% to us. We enter into a contract with you, the client, where our mandate, our terms of reference, the scope of our duties, the scope of your involvement in the process, and our fee structure are clearly spelt out. In addition, who pays for which portion of the fees is also clearly spelt out. The lenders also receive a copy of your contract. Only when you have reviewed the contract with us and all parties are satisfied with the arrangement will you be asked to sign and submit the deposit.
What type of businesses do you work with?
We have produced business plans for a wide variety of business startups and expansions from an electrician wanting to start his own business to starting a franchised pizza business to expanding an existing business.
We have both started our own successful small businesses, operated franchised businesses, and been involved at the corporate level with major national companies. We are experienced and comfortable helping you through the stages of registering a small sole proprietorship, developing goals and strategies, and producing pro forma financial plans appropriate to the lenders requirements. In the same way, we are also experienced in developing business plans for a major corporate expansion within or outside of an existing trade area.
When do you start the business plan?
Once you have signed the contract, you will be asked for the 25% deposit. Once that is received, we can commence work on your plan. The Lender will also be notified that we have received your deposit and that work has commenced on the plan. The developmental lenders (CCDF and Smedco) will then forward to you a signed agreement indicating that they will pay 75% of the agreed contract price.
How do you go about producing a collaborative plan?
Our business plans include:
An initial meeting with you to ensure that there is a compatibility between all the players.
discussions with you as the owner to ensure that we are producing a business plan that incorporates exactly what your goals are
Reevaluating goals as necessary as the plan unfolds
Receiving and reviewing historic, current or forecast financial and operational results with you.
Liaison with the Aboriginal Developmental Lenders (CCDF, Smedco etc) to make sure that the plan meets their financing requirements.
Submitting a draft plan for your review
Incorporating agreed upon changes to the draft plan
Submitting the final plan to the respective lenders for their review and incorporation into their decision making process.
Who gets a copy of the plan?
The plan is a proprietary document and is confidential in nature. The Lender will receive a copy of the plan and may show it in its entirety or in part to a person or entity it deems necessary in order to make a decision on your financing.
You will also receive a copy of the plan. First you will receive a copy of the draft business plan for you to review with us. We will incorporate issues that are brought up at the review as appropriate. You will then receive a copy of the final business plan. Again it is a proprietary documents and is for your own use and not for public viewing.
Dixon and Associates retains the proprietary use of the business plan, however, we shall always respect your privacy and the confidentiality of the document and not release it to any third parties without your written permission.
How much does a business plan cost?
Our plans are collaborative and custom tailored to your project and to you as an entrepreneur. They are not canned plans adapted to your type of business. They are also developed to suit the lending requirements of the Aboriginal Lenders.
Business Consultants often charge an hourly fee for their time. However, on a project basis, the consultant often sets a project or plan fee.
We provide you with a written contract that is signed by us, you, and the lender. This fee along with your portion and the lender's portion is included in the contract and we do NOT charge more than the contract fee even if the time factor or complexity increases.
Does a Business Plan guarantee that my project will be approved?
No. No business plan can claim that kind of guarantee and no ethical consultant would ever make that kind of statement!. However, Dixon and Associates has worked with each of these lenders and is familiar with their application process and often their requirements for a successful project. We draft a business plan that meets all of the Lender's requirements and allows them to implement their due diligence with the least amount of additional information required. This is why we are on their approved consultant list. In the final analysis, though, it is the lender that makes a decision on whether to lend to you. This may be based upon you, the viability of your project, the current economic and financial climate, the characteristics of your market segment, the competition, and the pro forma financial statements as contained in your business plan and sometimes on the internal policies of the lender itself.
Do you work with the lender to get our project approved?
We work with the lender throughout the planning process to make sure that your business is compatible with the lenders operational and financial requirements. Generally our work is finished once the plan is complete and submitted to the lender. However, our background is as a client advocate and we maintain contact with both the lender and the client to see whether the lender needs clarification on any points in the plan, and generally make ourselves available for any questions they may have. We also keep in touch with the client to assist them through the approval process. However, each of the Lenders has its own due diligence process and adheres to this process. We continue to assist whenever we can.
How long does the Business Plan take?
Depending on the amount of information and research required, the speed with which you are able to get answers back to the consultant, and how many plans we are working on at the same time, it should take between three weeks and a month in which to get the draft business plan back to you. After the draft plan review, your final plan should be ready in another week.
This process can take longer if we are required to spend time in coaching and assisting in preparing asset purchase offers, lease review and negotiations, etc. The more focused you are and prepared in your formative stages, the faster we can move your plan ahead. Obviously, the more work we have to do will be reflected in the plan cost.
The process that the Lender takes, depending on the lender, can often add four weeks or longer to your timeline and you should probably count on not receiving final approval for on average six to nine weeks and sometimes longer after you submit your application to the Lender depending on which lender is involved.
Do you provide other consulting services?
Yes, we provide general business consulting and have specialists in marketing, corporate operational restructuring, and leadership facilitation. However, these usually require some kind of business plan in order for you and your company to move ahead. Unless we have been specifically asked by the Lender to take on that type of assignment, the fees would not be covered by our arrangement with them. Don't forget that the lenders have their own consultants who may be able to help you at no cost to you.
There are times, especially on a large project, where a lender will request a feasibility study prior to submitting a proposal to the board. If the feasibility study shows that the project has a good chance of succeeding, the lender will then ask for a business plan. Feasibility studies require a significant amount of research and, accordingly, are more expensive.
Once I have my business up and running do you provide assistance to help me with any concerns I may have?
Once a lender has approved your funding application, they are as concerned as you are that your project is successful and is sustainable. Each of the lenders has an After Care type of program where they will cover the cost of some additional assistance. Since we know your project and have worked with you it makes sense for us to provide this assistance; however, you need to make application to the lender for approval under this program for them to cover all or a portion of our fees.