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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much money do I need to get started? 

A: Once you, have taken care of your building and equipment needs you also must have enough money on hand to cover operating expenses (fixed and variable costs) for at least one year. These expenses include your salary, as the owner, and money to repay your loans. One of the leading causes of business failure is insufficient start-up capital. Consequently, you should work closely with us to estimate your cash flow needs. Writing a business plan will provide you with accurate information on your needs for capital. 

 

Q: How do I know if Tropix Consulting is a good match for my business?

A: As business growth consultants, we can help almost any legitimate business, from start-up through middle market. However, there are specific industries and business types where we may not be the best fit. We will be happy to discuss your situation confidentially, and will immediately let you know whether or not we think we are a good fit for your business.

Q: What is a business plan and why do I need one? 

A: If you run a business, then it's probably safe to say yes. In fact, you may require more than one business plan: one for raising capital and one for running your business. The former is a compact, easily digested strategic document that is designed to persuade potential investors to pick up the phone and invite you to their offices for an initial meeting. The latter is a more detailed document serving as a day-to-day roadmap, detailing the tactics supporting your overall strategy. The former needs to be an attractive document that sells; the latter can be a collection of spreadsheets, lists, research summaries, and other documents stuffed in a binder that you refer to and update on a regular basis.

A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm's resume. It helps you allocate resources properly, handle unforeseen complications, and make the right decisions. Because it provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money, a good business plan is a crucial part of any loan package. Additionally, it can tell your sales personnel, suppliers and others about your operations and goals. 

 

Q: Why should we hire a consultant to write our business plan instead of doing it ourselves?

A: You could easily spend 500 hours or more preparing an investor-grade business plan, financial forecast, and investor presentation, even if you have an MBA. This is time you should probably be spending building your team, product, distribution channels, and customer base. In addition to our expertise in preparing these materials, we offer independent, third-party insights into your business, and may raise questions that you might not have thought to ask.

 

In general, we charge a pre-determined fixed fee. The fee is determined by:

·         The scope of the project, in terms of the tasks and documents you require help with.

·         The sophistication and specific needs of your target audience.

·         The quality of your existing materials, including early drafts of business plans, financial forecasts, market research, competitive research, etc. For instance, if you have a recent, comprehensive research report from a major market research firm like Forrester, our effort can be significantly reduced.

·         The clarity of your vision for your business model, marketing and distribution strategy, financial plans, etc.

·         Your availability and willingness to participate in the preparation of the business plan, financial model, and investor presentation.

·         The complexity of your industry and business model.

·         The availability of industry information.

·         The desired timing relative to our workload. In general, "rush" jobs will carry a substantial premium over projects that can be completed as our schedule permits.

Because of these factors, the fees for a typical project, consisting of the preparation of an investor-grade business plan, financial forecast, and investor presentation, can range from a few hundred dollars to several tens of thousands of dollars. By the way, if you are "price shopping," you should know that price doesn't tell the whole story. After all, would you choose one car over another simply because of price? Of course not - there are many dimensions you need to consider.

 

Q: Are you worth the money?

A: We believe we are, because:

·         We Succeed: We are well aware that there are many business plan consultants offering their services for over $5,000. Some of these consultants do fine work, but their typical client is not the small business owners like you. Consider that, even during the height of the market, fewer than 1 in 100 business plans that made it into the hands of a banker ever raised capital (and the number is probably worse than 1 in 250 today). Who do you think prepared many of those unsuccessful plans? On the other hand, well over half of our plans have raised capital and help business owners to run their businesses successfully.

·         Your Time is Too Valuable: Let's consider a $20,000 engagement consisting of a sophisticated VC-grade plan, financials, and pitch deck. In our experience, it would take most entrepreneurs a minimum of 500 hours to create comparable materials. If you choose to do it yourself, you are implicitly valuing your time at just $40 per hour. Surely, you can create more value per hour for your venture by focusing on your product, customers, and distribution channels!

·         Professionalism Adds Value: We can complete the same engagement in about 100 hours. This implies a rate of $100 per hour. You're probably paying your CPA at least $200 per hour, your attorney at least $300 per hour, and your name-brand management consultant at least $450 per hour. Yet these are all essentially commodities: a good attorney is easy to find, but a good business planner is very rare. We believe that our experience and specialized skills are a bargain compared to the many other professional services you employ.

 

Q: What does Tropic Consulting do?

A: We help prospects get ready to start their businesses. Moreover, we help existing entrepreneurs in improving their businesses. This usually consists of some or all of the following services:

·         Business plan development

·         Financial forecast development

·         Investor presentation (Pitch Deck) preparation

·         Strategy development

·         Market research and analysis

·         Competitor research and analysis

·         Financial analysis

·         General coaching and advisory services

·         Capital formation strategy

 

Q: How much does a business plan / a marketing plan / a feasibility study / etc. cost?

A: We do not offer any fixed price packages and we do not work off of templates. Before we can give you an estimate, we need to understand your individual situation. This generally requires a brief conversation about your project goals, timetable, budget, scope, and other issues. Although we are far from being the most expensive, we are also rarely the least expensive. In many companies, business plan projects have ranged from a low of about $5,000 for relatively straightforward situations to over $30,000 for larger, more complicated situations. If you are looking for the lowest cost solution, or do not care about quality, then Tropix Consulting is definitely not a good fit for you. However, our price starts as low as $1,000. Remember, this service is FREE for premium package clients.

Q: I understand that business strategy consulting can be very expensive. Can you help me if I am on a more limited budget?

A: Everything we do is tailored to each client's individual situation. If you tell us your budget, as long as it is reasonable, we can work within it. The point is we can work with you.

Q: What legal aspects do I need to consider? 

A: Licenses, permits, zoning laws and other regulations vary from business to business and from state to state. You will need to consider requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to accommodate needs of your customers and your employees. You can consult us for advice specific to your enterprise and area. We will help also to decide about your form of organization (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship). 

Q: My Company has very proprietary information, which I do not want to leak out. Do you sign non-disclosure agreements?

A: The answer is YES. Once we have determined that there is a good match between your needs and Tropix Consulting' capabilities, we can send you a mutual non-disclosure agreement. This agreement protects both parties from disclosure of confidential information. And, if you become a client of Tropix Consulting, our standard contract provides ample protection that covers most circumstances.

Q: How do I set price levels? 

A: The price of a service or item is based on three basic production costs: direct materials, labor and overhead. After these costs are determined (the break-even cost) you factor in the profit desired. Because pricing can be a complicated process and you must remain competitive as well as profitable, you may wish to seek help from an expert like us.  

 

Q: Why don't you list more of your clients' names on your website?

A: Most of our clients insist on strict confidentiality, so we cannot divulge any information about them beyond their industry and a general description of the type of services we provided them.

Q: Do you work with non-profit organizations?

A: Although our clients are small or mid-size businesses, we also work with non-profits and associations. As long as we are a good fit in terms of skills and expertise we are happy to work with any legitimate organization.

Q: Do you work with clients outside of the Kansas City metropolitan area?

A: YES! We have worked with clients across the United States. We rely heavily on the phone, e-mail, fax, and online meeting tools, and have never met half of our clients. If desired, we are available to visit you at your offices for a day or two at a time.

Q: In addition of business planning and strategy; do you also help clients with marketing or strategy execution?

A: Yes. Although our greatest expertise is in business strategy and planning, we also help clients with a wide variety of other issues. These include interim management, part-time management, marketing execution, and more. Please contact us to discuss your particular situation in confidence.

Q: I am starting a business and need help developing the business concept, researching the industry, and developing a marketing plan. I have very limited funds. Will you work in exchange for equity?

A: The amount of market research that needs to go into a high quality marketing plan is extensive and time consuming. We usually work strictly on a fee-for-service basis, but in exceptional cases will discount our fees in exchange for an equity stake or percent of sales.

Q: What financial statements will I need? 

A: You should prepare and understand three basic financial statements: 

§  the balance sheet, which is a record of assets, liabilities and capital at a specific point in time; 

§  the income (profit and loss) statement, which is a summary of your earnings, expenses and net profit (or loss) over a given period of time; and 

§  The cash flow projection, which shows the actual inflows and actual outflows of cash into and out of your business. 

You need Balance sheets that balance. Cash flows, income statements, and balance sheets that tie together (you'd be surprised by how many consultants who don't get the basics right). Fully assumption-driven, so that you can do what-if analyses. A fully integrated scenario analysis so you can identify the most important drivers of your business. The ability to create multiple funding scenarios. Benchmarking vs. publicly traded companies (so you can do a reality check). Complete flexibility, so that it can be adapted to almost any business model. Battle tested and venture capitalist approved.

Q: Can you make an equity investment in my business or provide debt financing?

A: Tropix Consulting is not a lender or private equity firm, and we do not act as an intermediary in any financial transaction. That said, we can support your search for funding in many useful ways, including market research, preparation of a business plan, development of a business presentation, and preparation and review of supporting documents.

 

In some cases, we can arrange introductions to qualified funding sources. All work of this nature is strictly fee-for-services without guarantee that a deal will be completed. We also work closely with other financial services firms that specialize in business valuations and investor introductions (investment banking services for small businesses).

Q: What kind of profits can I expect? 

A: Not an easy question, and you need to consider income and expenses before you even start to think about profits. However, there are standards of comparison called "industry norms and ratios" which can help you estimate your profits. Return on investment (ROI), for example, estimates the amount of profit gained on a given number of dollars invested in the business. These ratios are broken down by standard industrial classification (SIC) code for assets and size, so you can look up your type of business to see what the industry averages are. Our expertise will guide you in each aspect of this critical business operations.

 

Q: I need a business plan / marketing plan completed in a week or less.
Can you help me?

A: We are willing to go the extra mile for our clients, but we cannot complete most projects in such a short timeframe. Generally, even “straightforward” plan, marketing, and market research projects take at least 3 to 4 weeks. More involved projects can require several months (or longer) to assure the high level of quality and accuracy that are essential to success.

Q: I have been thinking about a new business for a long time. I need someone to help me go through all of my ideas to sort through them and develop a realistic business plan. And I need to do this on a limited budget. Can you help me?

A: Yes! We frequently work with clients in this situation. You will need to do the "heavy lifting" with the market research (which can be very time consuming), while we limit our role to acting as facilitators and business advisors. This plays to our strengths and keeps your expenses to a minimum. The process typically takes several months, but results in a very strong business plan.

Q: What should I know about accounting and bookkeeping? 

A: The importance of keeping adequate records cannot be stressed too much. Without financial records, you cannot determine how well your business is doing or where it is going. At a minimum, records are needed to substantiate: 

§  Your tax returns under federal and state laws, including income tax and Social Security laws; 

§  Your request for credit from vendors or a loan from a bank; and 

§  Your claims about the business, should you wish to sell it. 

But most important, you need them to run your business successfully and to increase your profits. 

 

Q: I have developed a patented product and now I need help getting it to market. Can you help me?

A: We have found that many inventors just want someone to help them "sell their product" without asking any questions. We do not work that way, since it usually leads to failure. We can help you formulate a sound go-to-market strategy first, then help you commercialize your technology product or service. If you already have a solid go-to-market plan, with real market data and analysis to back it up, we can quickly jump into the execution phase.

Q: I already have a business plan. I just need a great presentation for investors. Can you help me?

A: Yes. We frequently help entrepreneurs develop and practice concise and compelling presentations. However, we do not simply "slap together a few slides". Very few entrepreneurs ever succeed at raising capital. Poorly designed and executed presentations are a major reason why.

Q: Are some locations better than others? 

A: Time and effort devoted to selecting where to locate your business can mean the difference between success and failure.

Home-based businesses initially operate out of the founder's home and, as they grow, the issue of location becomes vital to their continued success. 

 

Q: I am an angel investor. I have invested in one or two early stage companies, and I want to find more investment opportunities. Can you help me?

A: We talk with thousands of small business owners each year, across a wide range of industries and stages. If we mutually agree that Tropix Consulting is a good fit, we can then define search criteria and set up a Finders Fee arrangement plus a small monthly retainer to cover our expenses. We will perform due diligence on potential companies and introduce you only to the most qualified candidates. Our compensation would mostly be from the Finders Fee. If you are looking to partner with a high-integrity business consulting firm, please contact us. Your identity and contact information will be kept strictly confidential.

Q: Where can I go for help? 

A: Tropix Consulting, a small-business consulting is the answer for your hard questions and we offer you necessary guidance you need. 

At Tropix Consulting, we know that successful consulting is about working collaboratively and being efficient at listening and adapting to client needs, diagnosing problems, and implementing solutions that will drive measurable and sustainable value.

We are very proud of the accomplishments we have made since our inception. As a leading Strategy and Operations consulting firm, we have developed an impressive client list and established a talented and accomplished team of practitioners throughout in the U.S. Throughout our rapid growth, we have retained an entrepreneurial spirit - an appealing attribute that resonates with our clients.