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Orange County Southern California
Business Plan Writer |  Business Development | Consultant

Business Plan Development, Strategy, Writing, Consulting.


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FAQs
Frequently asked questions about our Business Plan methodologies:


Rob Cummings

Should we first assess the brand/service name?
Yes, it's the foundation of your business. A
brand name safety analysis will uncover issues you may not have considered, with a focus on avoiding trademark, copyright, and intellectual property infringement problems.

Skipping the brand name safety analysis is not recommended even if you have applied for a trademark and/or had a thorough trademark search.

How do we get started with the rest of a business plan? See now.

Do we need to meet?
No, the process is entirely online - and is working for clients worldwide.

Can we meet?
The proven Business Plan Worksheet method, like a 'patient interview', eliminates the need for a meeting. If we do meet, like a doctor's house call or a visit to the doctor's office, my normal rates apply.

Do you ever meet your clients?
Rarely, and if so, just for lunch and not for business. I find we both get more done, faster, when the process is carried out primarily via email (so everything is documented), and by phone as needed. Plus we save fuel and time.

How much should a business plan cost?
The costs for writing a successful business plan can vary greatly depending on many factors. All business plans are based on Rob Cummings' hourly rate for business consulting that can be seen when you click BUSINESS CONSULTING BY THE HOUR on the book time page here.

The first cost is the initial review of your completed Business Plan Worksheet.

If you have questions other than the cost, skip to more FAQs.

The answer to how much should it cost is...

How much time is needed to do just enough to accomplish all the goals and objectives without under-doing or over-doing? 

'Under-doing' may result in failure, while 'over-doing' may cost more in time.

A business plan is very much like an 'argument' in a court of law combined with a 'blueprint' in architecture:

Like a lawyer making a case in court, the more 'prepared' you are when you 'see the judge', the more 'insurance' you will have, and the greater the chances are that you will convince the judge and 'win the case'.


Our business plans are blueprints that assess everything, no stone unturned.

Like an architect, the more detail you include in the 'blueprint' and all of the pre-construction thinking, the fewer 'surprises' i.e. chances for failure you have when actual construction begins.

A business plan is like an 'argument' for your business, and like a 'blueprint'.

The 'argument' is to completely convince another (and yourself) that your business will succeed. The 'blueprint' indicates that you know your business and have thought it through in such detail that, by following the 'blueprint' exactly - or close - your plan will result in success.


The cost is less if you initially have a very well thought out outline or a business plan in progress that simply requires a review and fairly simply editing.

The cost is more if your business plan outline or draft is more of an idea or concept than a plan, and requires research and much more work to make it work.

To be sure you have a plan, we do an initial review and may save you countless $'s if we do not see any chance for success.

The initial review is the first step, unless you need to complete our Worksheet. If so, ask for the worksheet and complete that first. 

In the initial review, Rob Cummings will act like an investor or partner and:

  • give you his very candid opinion

  • let you know if he feels that you should or should not proceed

  • let you know if he feels you need to do more homework

  • bring up questions and concerns

From there, if Rob feels your chances of success are good, and he has enough to go on, Rob can also give you a better idea of the potential final costs.

 

More Business Plan FAQs
Frequently asked questions about our Business Plans:

What should a business plan include, and what should I do now?

If you have never written a business plan or seen one

How to Write a Winning Business Plan - from Entrepreneur Magazine

How to Write a Business Plan - from the US SBA

See the
links above then ask for the Cummings Design Business Plan Worksheet.

How do we get started with a business plan?
If you have a business plan in progress, or an outline, or a rough draft, contact us and we will tell you how and where to send it as an attachment for an initial review.

Otherwise, learn how to proceed and get started >>

What type of business structure is best?
When you are going into business, one of the first steps (and a very important step) is choosing the proper business structure - the legal structure for your company. Learn more >>

Do I need a partnership agreement?
We believe so, and many investors may also agree. A thorough partnership agreement will resolve existing and future issues and greatly help insure the ongoing success of your business. Learn more >>

Do I have just an idea or concept, or do I have a business plan?
A business plan is not a business plan if it is just an idea or a concept. The purpose of the business plan is to prove to yourself and others that you have a realistic way to bring your project to life with every asset and liability completely considered - like a blueprint.

What will Rob do that we cannot?
Rob helps you get organized, provides strategies, alternatives, contingencies and options, and brings up issues and concepts you may not have considered or may have overlooked. Then, as a writer, Rob is able to distill the concepts and ideas to their essence, making the business plan clear and compelling to all that read it. Statements made are concise, poignant, and easily understood. Writing at this level takes more time, and must be based on a solid conceptual understanding of the business, which is why the process begins with your vision and the Business Plan Worksheet.

Who does the financials?
In the plans Rob develops, the financials are in the back, separate from the plan. A CPA you choose does the financials. This separation of the 'story' of your business from the financials and projections separates the two, since each is normally read and more thoroughly reviewed by a different type of individual - the investor or the accountant.

Who handles the legal?
Rob has experience and a great interest in business and trademark law concepts, though he is not an Attorney. Rob can draft agreements and provide other conceptual elements, though these are then reviewed by a qualified Attorney you choose, or Rob may help you choose.

Business Plan Pro (or other business plan software) is asking questions that we don't really have answers to. Can you help?
Absolutely. That's why you want Rob to help. He's a thinker and helps you think through solutions. The best business plan is one you truly understand and will be successful with. No software can help you with this the way that a real thinking human being can.

I created a plan in Business Plan Pro. Will this work?
We see many that don't. The software makes it easy to gloss up the presentation, but the bottom line is the content, the 'blueprint', and the 'case' you make for your business. Impressive charts and graphs are only impressive if they support a very fully conceived plan. 

How do we know a business plan is complete?
Your business plan is complete when the most critical of investors (and/or partners, and/or you yourself) can feel assured that you have thought everything through, have a sound basis for your business, have addressed every detail with contingencies built in, and have a complete 'blueprint' to proceed.

You may take over the refinement of your business plan at any time, or have us continue to help you to get your business plan to a point where everything is completely considered.

What does an investor or partner look for in a business plan?
There are many answers depending on the investors or partner - yet, the primary element investors look for in a business plan is risk - or lack of it. If a reader of your business plan sees 'holes' or omissions, or can find one or many reasons why your plan may fail, the 'risk' involved may be too great and your presentation may fail.

In nearly all cases, a good deal is a good deal, and bankers, lenders, investors, partners, associates, and others want to lend money or become involved with a business and business plan that is very solid with minimal risk.

Your experience in the type of business can reduce risk (as well as that of partners and advisors), as does a completely thought out plan, and any other factors that support your 'case' for your business. The more questions you fail to address, the greater the chances your business may not succeed once up and running, and the greater the chance that investors will not be willing to take any initial risk.

Can you help us get the funding for our plan?
Yes, in certain cases, however, the plan must be very complete or we waste the investor's time.

How many business plans have you written that were funded?
The plans that are funded are those that entirely make business sense, are very complete, and involve the least 'risk' to the lenders and investors. Rob Cummings will help you determine how to make your plan less risky by being very critical and asking many questions - very much like an investor or partner. The bottom line is that, if you have a solid plan, it will likely get funded - and the more solid the better the funding arrangement may be. It all goes back to risk - the greater the risk, the less chances of funding - the less the risk, the greater the chances of success, and funding.

Have you ever written a business plan for my type of business?
We have likely never written a plan for your type of business, though the same process applies to all, making this a non-issue. If we need expert advice in any area, we get it. However, we are not writing 'fairy tales' or novels when writing business plans. If you do not know your business inside and out, no business plan writer will be able to help you, and you need to do more homework.

When will the plan be completed, and how many drafts should I expect to see and have the opportunity to comment on?
The plan will be completed as soon as it can - somewhere between two weeks and perhaps three months. I would hope to nail it down in three drafts. We discuss everything step by step and it proceeds as quickly as it can. Much is based on how much you already know about the business and/or can help make decisions on as it proceeds.

Will you (Rob Cummings) be writing the plan yourself or do you have associates who do the work with you?

Yes, the plan will be written entirely by me (working directly with you).

Will there be an opportunity for you to present the plan or for me to present the plan to my other advisors before the final draft is done?
Yes, positively. We will need to work with advisors at various stages all the way through - and the more who are qualified the better. Typically these include Attorneys and Accountants, though other specialists may be required as well. 
We also need estimates for the various elements as required.

Do you do the market research and the financial spreadsheets, or are those things done separately (and charged for separately)?
Yes, I do the research. No, I do not do the financials. I write the plan and you contract the accountant who puts the financials together. The plan supports the financials and vice versa.

Does your price include revisions or customization for certain types of funding (to include different information needed by investors versus lenders)?
My fees are based on an hourly rate. This hourly rate can include anything you need me to do including versions tailored to different investor types - though there is not a total and complete cost with unlimited revisions. The cost may range from $950 to $7500 - and more. Most plans are finished at about $5000 - though it all depends on
the quality of your concept and how much you already know about making it viable as a business. In certain cases, where I simply write the plan based on a very complete outline, the cost can be $950.

Does your price include coaching to prepare me to talk with lenders or make financing presentations?
Yes, you can have me help coach and do anything else required based on my hourly rate.

Will I have an electronic version as well as a hard copy version of the final plan (so I can make changes later if I need to)?
The Business Plan is delivered as a Microsoft Word document - so you can change it, print it, etc.

Is there a flat fee for the initial review of the work sheet and consultation?
Yes, the flat fee for review is found at pricing and payment in the Business Plans category. I'll be glad to do a review, however, you should know my review will be candid (the best reason to hire me for this).
If all I see is an 'idea' without the basis for a viable business, I will let you know. You'll understand why when I do the review, then we'll decide how to proceed from there.

After the initial review and consultation is complete, is there going to be a flat fee to write the business plan?

No, there is no 'flat fee' or package price for a complete plan. I will almost always ask that you buy 10 hours to start based on my hourly rate.



The reason that I cannot accurately estimate the complete and total cost is that, like a doctor, all I now know is that you have a problem - to create the Business Plan for your business. The 'cure' is impossible to estimate.

Though I may have some initial thoughts regarding solutions, until I get into it, I am not sure (without getting far more involved) of what the final solution will be, or how much time it will take.

I try my best to work within budgets while remaining honest about how complete (and smart) a plan needs to be.

Contact Rob
if you have any further questions or concerns.

It's all about how we think >>


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