A business plan is a document that defines why you’re in business, your goals, and how you will achieve them. It covers all major aspects of your business, including your financial plan, operations plan, marketing plan, and more.
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Starting A Business In Canada
Step 1: Make Sure You Are Ready for Entrepreneurship
It is easy to come up with an idea to start a business, but not so easy to actually launch and build a profitable business. Eighty per cent of businesses fail in the first five years. Before you take the risk of starting a business, make sure:
Step 2: Evaluate Your Options
When starting a business, there are important differences between starting from scratch, buying a privately owned business and buying a franchise. To know what steps you need to take be sure to read these articles:
Ten Steps to Your Own Business – for starting from scratch.
Canadian Franchise Guide – if you are buying a franchise in Canada.
Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Business in Canada – if you are buying a business (franchise or independently owned).
Step 3: Prepare a Business Plan
You should not skip this important step … even if it means that you just jot your ideas down on scraps of paper or a napkin! Be sure to read:
Business Plan Workshop – a practical guide written by the creator of CandaOne’s award-winning business plan!
Business Planning for Non-Planners – great advice if you find that you have “business plan block”.
Creating A Business Plan
Your business plan should be the foundation of everything you do as a business owner. They are valuable no matter where you are in the process – before you start, if you’re already established, and even if you’re planning on selling or closing your business.
You need a business plan for two purposes: it’s both your roadmap and your pitch.
YOUR BUSINESS PLAN IS YOUR ROADMAP
Your business plan should guide all of your decisions as your business grows. You can refer back to it later to make sure your choices map to your strategy and goals.
YOUR BUSINESS PLAN IS YOUR PITCH
Your business plan is also for others. It helps potential investors, lenders, or suppliers understand how you will use their money. It should convince them that you are prepared and experienced enough to succeed. It should show them that you have the energy and dedication to write a detailed plan, and the communication skills to write and present it.
Your business plan is invaluable, no matter how new or established your business. Use your business plan to:
- Guide your business activities
- Get financing or investors
- Plan for future growth
- Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- Track your performance
- Plan your exit or succession from your business
Start as early as possible. Your final plan might be quite different from the first draft – your business plan will change and grow as you learn. Make sure you’ve researched and planned for all the important factors of starting a business, so you aren’t caught off guard later.
You can get help creating your business plan from lots of sources – your local library, financial institutions, government agencies, and other business service providers. Start with these resources:
- The Canada Business Network: A collaborative arrangement among federal departments and agencies, provincial and territorial governments and not-for-profit entities, has valuable information on why you need a business plan, how to write a business plan, and business planning frequently asked questions.
- The Business Development Bank of Canada: This financial institution owned by the Government of Canada has a free business plan template and an article on the basics of writing a business plan.
- Business Link service specialists: Our team can help you research, plan, and create your business plan.
There is no “perfect” business plan. You just need one that will work for you and your idea. Some business plans are a few pages long, while others may be well over 50 pages or more.
These are the most common topics you’ll find in most business plans:
- Executive Summary
- Business Background
- Industry/Market Analysis
- Environmental Issues
- Financial Projections and Analysis
- Risk and Mitigation
- Opportunities for Growth
- Exit Strategies
Writing a business plan can seem intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. Before you start writing, read through these business plan examples. Use them as inspiration, but remember to make your business plan your own – it should reflect you and your business’ unique identities.
- Canada Business Network’s business plan samples: A directory of business plan examples and further resources from business development organizations, banks, and private sector organizations.
- Futurpreneur business plan resources: An extensive list of free resources to help you plan, write, and customize your business plan. Also features a business plan writer tool that will guide you through each step of the process.
- BPlans.com: Dozens of free sample business plans and templates, with how-to articles and resources.
- Search online for business plans in your industry. Some will be free, while other resources will charge a fee for access.
These tools and services will help you with market research, business licensing and regulations, business training, productivity, exporting, and benchmarking.
- Interactive Business Plan Writer: The interactive Business Plan Writer will simplify the business planning process. Not only is this tool dynamic, allowing you to customize your plan, it also has tips and tricks and plenty of examples to guide you as you write.
- BizPal – Online Business Permits and Licences Service: BizPaL is an online service that walks Canadian entrepreneurs through the process of finding comprehensive information about business permits and licensing requirements from all levels of government.
- City of Edmonton Industrial Land Site Locator: The basic information for each property includes size, price, zoning, legal description, address, etc. The tool is not limited to those looking for industrial land. This website offers valuable information on industrial properties, as well as demographic, labour force, and business information for the whole city.
- City of Spruce Grove – GIS Site Locator: links you to available commercial and industrial opportunities and provides dynamic mapping capabilities with custom demographic reports including labour force, education levels, consumer spending and age by geographic area.
- Calgary Regional Partnership – Site Selector Tool: This site provides immediate access to in-depth information including dynamic real estate, demographics and industry breakdowns.
- Opportunity Newell – Interactive Site Selector: Get all of the latest information on available land, Industrial, and Commercial Sites in Newell.
- Employment Standards Tool Kit for Employers: The Tool Kit is also available in hard copy form, as well as on CD packaged together with the latest Occupational Health and Safety Tool Kit for Small Business.
- BDC Website Assessment: Take the first step in optimizing your website. Just enter your web address and the BDC web assessment tool will analyze up to 5 pages of your website.
- GO Productivity Productivity Assessment Tool: Critically analyze your business and uncover opportunities for improvement.
- BDC COMPASS; Helps entrepreneurs improve their profitability and liquidity.
- Financial Performance Data (formerly SME Benchmarking Tool): Offers industry-specific income statement and balance sheet data for small and medium sized businesses allowing you to:
- Estimate the operating costs for your new business;
- View financial performance averages in your industry;
- Enter your own financial data to see how your business measures up to comparably sized firms.
- Intellectual property for exporting businesses: If you are an exporter, find out how you can protect your intellectual property outside of Canada.
If you approach a bank for help with financing, the bankers will want your business plan to include the specific information they need to make their decision. These requirements may vary from one bank to another, and from one type of business to another. Therefore, if you know which institution(s) you would like to speak with, it’s a good idea to see what key sections they would like included.
- Bank of Montreal’s Business Coach Series Find booklets, podcasts and planning resources that can help you start, grow and improve your business.
- Your Guide to Business Planning — CIBC Start planning with the help of this line-by-line approach to business plan writing that takes you through the process one step at a time.
- Planning Your Business — RBC Royal Bank Learn about the 7 key sections of a business plan and find examples to help you prepare your plan.
- Scotiabank — Writing a Business Plan Access business plan templates and an interactive tool to help you create an effective business plan.
- TD Canada Trust Business Planner Use this online business planning tool to develop a seamless business plan that can help you get off on the right foot.
- Interactive Business Plan — Desjardins A step-by-step tool to help you develop your business plan.
These organizations may provide tools to help their clients prepare professional business plans through their regional offices or via the Web.
- BDC business plan templatesYou can create your own professional business plan with the help of the BDC sample plan and business plan template.
- Business Plan — CBDCYou can use this guide to prepare a business plan.
- Futurpreneur Canada Business Plan WriterAre you ready to start your business? You can use this online tool to develop, write, and download your business plan.
- Planning for Success : Your Guide to Preparing a Business and Marketing PlanLearn about 9 essential sections of a business plan and what to include in each one.
Business Development Bank of Canada
The BDC offers business loans and consulting services to help Canadian businesses grow, both at home and abroad. Through their subsidiary—BDC Capital, they also offer a full spectrum of specialized financing, including venture capital, equity as well as growth and business transition capital.
The BDC offers a free business plan template designed to help Canadian entrepreneurs
As a development bank, BDC has been working with entrepreneurs for over 65 years to develop business plans that help them succeed. Their business plan template is designed to allow you to prepare a professional plan, and take your business to the next level toward growth and success.
The Kit Includes:
- Blank business plan template with financial appendix, including a user guide and glossary.
- An example business plan.
- Instructions and how-to articles.