Using Cerebrate’s software to start a Consulting Business
By: Garnet Melville – Managing Director/Business Consultant/Cerebrate Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd
Cerebrate Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd launched 2 business software apps in December 2014 initially aimed at assisting new business start-ups and business requiring financing, but later to help a new generation of Business Consultant to hone their skills and start a Business Consulting practice with no capital and no experience. They could use the business software apps to provide professional advice to these businesses.
The business apps used as a basis for Business Consulting services are:
- BizToolkit App – (a business financial planning tool that provides 2 years monthly cash flow projections, 5 years annual cash flow projections, 5 years projected income statements, 5 years projected balance sheets and financial and business ratios with benchmark warnings and advice on how to improve these for financing requests) The tool is ideal for testing various business financial strategies to determine financial feasibility before completing a full business plan. Various pricing, costing and debtor/creditor strategies can be tested to establish suitability, and impact on cash flow. There is also a Loan Repayment function, which allows loan amounts, repayment terms and interest rates to be inserted, and these will be accounted for correctly in the Cash Flow Projections, Income Statements and Balance Sheets automatically;
- Business Plan app – this app has been developed based on the requirements of South African financing institutions. It was developed in such a way that both start-up entrepreneurs and seasoned Business Consultants alike can benefit from the easy to use app, that provides a framework with all the required headings, and blank spaces where the information required can be typed in.
For each heading there is an easy-to-use on-screen tutorial, called a “HelpWizard” that provides explanations and advice of what information is required in each section (as per what banks and other funders require), and guidance is provided on where to find this information, how to do the research, how to evaluate and critically assess the information and finally how this information should be presented to financiers.
The app allows for business plans to be completed in a fraction of the time it would take consultants to produce a business plan normally, as it has been programmed in such a way that information is never required to be captured twice, if information is required more than once in the plan, it will automatically be inserted where ever required, ensuring that accuracy and efficiency is maintained throughout. All source documents like ID Copies, Company Documents, financial statements etc. can be scanned into the system and inserted where required.
The app also includes the BizToolkit mentioned above, the business plan can be shared with 3rd party collaborators at any stage of the plan’s development, and these collaborators can be provided with either a “Read only” or “Read and Edit” functionality, so that experts can provide the writer with assistance at any stage of the plan’s development. Once completed, the system provides a “Warning Report” which provides the user with information such as:
- Has all information in each section (heading) been completed;
- Are all the financial ratios within industry benchmarks;
- If the ratios are outside of acceptable industry parameters, advice is provided on what should be done to improve the ratios;
Should all requirements be met, the system will advise that the Business Plan can be published, and this is in the form of a pre-formatted pdf document that can either be printed or e-mailed to financiers, investors or shareholders etc. There is no need to complete a “Table of Contents” as this is automatically done during formatting, with each heading and its corresponding page within the business plan being automatically inserted.
Due to Cerebrate’s experience in both banking, as well as business consulting, we can truly vouch for the apps and their ease of use. The system also allows for a “firm” to download either single business plans or batches of apps, and assign these to different users. These different users can be managed in terms of:
- Plans (Business Plans or BizToolkits) they are working on;
- When last a user worked on a plan i.e. date and time;
- The status of a Plan i.e. how far from complete;
- Allows the administrator to read any plan by any user at any time;
In this way, a “Firm” can employ users specifically for the purpose of completing either Business Plans or Financial Plans, and pay them according to the status of that plan, making the management and remuneration of these employees easier. They do not necessarily need to be experienced consultants, as the on-screen tutorials teach them what is required and therefor the premium salaries usually commanded by experienced consultants is not required, making the service offered to your clients cheaper, quicker and more efficient which makes the pricing of these business plans more competitive in the market.
The fact that these business plans can also be completed far quicker than traditional business plans means that monies due for business plans are recovered quicker improving cash flow and profitability.
There is other Business Plan software out there, but usually it is accompanied by thick learner manuals that need to be mastered first before trying the software, and these are usually based on either American or European business markets and environments, with very little bearing on what financiers in South Africa look for in a business plan.
Cerebrate’s Apps have been developed specifically for the South African business environment, and what South African banks want to see in business plans and can be used immediately once downloaded i.e. no lengthy user manuals to be studied and mastered first.
Typically the market price for completed plans are:
- Financial Plan (R5,000 – R7,000); and
- Business Plan (R7,500 – R12,500);
Terms of payment for these are usually 50% deposit before commencement of the project and the balance of payment upon completion, before final edit, client debrief, printing & binding.
Cost of App downloads are as follows:
- BizToolkit R1,499; and
- Business Plan App R2,499;
While this appears to be a large amount of information, we have attempted to make this introduction as complete as possible, should you however have any questions or issues not handled above, please do not hesitate to contact us or read through the FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions