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Step 6: Write a Business Plan
Starting on the Right Path
Seven Steps for Help You Start Your Business
1. Take a Good Look at Yourself
2. Identify Your Customers
3. Build a Support Network
4. Make it Official
5. Facilities and Staff
6. Write a Business Plan
7. Obtain Financing
Keep It Going
Step 6: Write a Business Plan
Get your ideas on paper.
What’s in a business plan?
- A clear description of the type of business and how to set it up
- Your goals and objectives, and the strategies you will use to achieve them
- A description of the industry and business sector you are in
- The potential strengths and weaknesses of your business
- Financial information that shows how your business will make a profit
- If you need a loan or financial contribution, the reasons why your business is a good investment
- A chronology of events and financial milestones against which you can compare your actual results
- A listing of your competitors
A good business plan starts you out on the right path, and will help stay focused as you move forward.
Not all business plans are the same, or have the same level of detail, but most have the following sections:
Executive Summary: Keep it short. Introduce your ideas and provide a brief description of what’s in the next three sections.
Business Overview: Write about your product or service, your sales strategy, and show that you know about your competitors. Include any risks that you might have to deal with in your business.
Business Operations: Tell how you will run your business, where it will be located, and how you will get your supplies. If you have employees, include brief job descriptions and an organization chart.
Financial Plan: Explain how you will spend money and earn it back through sales. If you plan to borrow, tell exactly how you will use the loan. This section is very technical, and requires you do a lot of research about your costs, pricing and sales.
Financial statements show the current financial position of your business. Without them, you can’t make a major management decision about your business, and you won’t be able to get a loan or contribution. The four principal documents in financial statements are: the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and the statement of retained earnings.
Getting Help with Your Business Plan
Help is available to you to assist in the preparation of your business plan. Most of this help is free, but if you need to hire someone to assist you, your Economic Development Officer can show you where funding is available.
You will find most of the help you need in your network. Economic Development Officers, the regional Chamber of Commerce and Business Development Centre, and local business people can offer guidance on how to present your business idea.
There are many resources on the Internet that explain how to write a business plan.
The Bplans website (a commercial website) provides advice on writing a business plan, access to sample business plans, useful online financial calculators, and sells business planning software. You can access this information at www.bplans.com.
The Canadian Bankers Association website provides a number of helpful information booklets including “Getting Started in Small Business,” which includes a section on how to prepare a business plan. You can access this information at www.cba.ca/en/component/content/category/45-small-business-services
The Canada Business Service Centre also offers business planning, a tool to help entrepreneurs prepare a three-year business plan for their new or existing business. This service is free. You can access this planner at www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2865/sgc-62/
Remember, first impressions matter
In your business, like in most things, first impressions are very important. When you’re looking for support for your business or your business idea, the business plan usually is the first thing you will be asked to provide. A thoughtful, professional-looking plan will make a good impression, and is essential to getting the support you need.