Draft a Serious Business Plan
Image via Flickr photosteve101
A business plan covers these four aspects of your new business:
- Defines the goals and objectives of the business
- Outlines the business' needs for financing
- Includes a plan for marketing the business
- Is updated regularly as plans develop and grow
No business survives without an effective marketing strategy, so this should be part of your plan and included in the initial loans you apply for. Since no business owner is able to see the full picture from inception, it's important to update and adapt the business plan as you proceed through the steps below. Some plans may not work out, and new ideals will surface as things unfold.
Set Up a Flexible Communications Strategy
Before you open the doors for the first customer, you need a way for prospective employees, customers, loan officers, and suppliers to get in touch with you. Shop around, because your local phone company isn't your only option.
Many business use BlackBerry's mobile device management solutions to create a comprehensive, all-encompassing telecommunications system without land lines or cable Internet providers. This way, you and all your employees have a reliable, affordable way to access phones, text messages, and the Internet, either from their own devices or from corporate-owned ones.
Choose the Best Location
There are several things to consider when choosing a location:
- Is the property zoned for the type of business you're opening there?
- Do nearby businesses compliment or compete with yours?
- Is the community capable of supporting the business with enough customers and employees?
- If you outgrow the facility here, what will your options be for moving to a larger building?
- Is the crime rate low so patrons and employees won't be afraid of walking to and from their vehicles?
Look for Financing
There are a number of government financing options as well; many banks and financial institutions are willing to lend money to start-up businesses. Don't be tempted to swoop up the first loan opportunity that comes along, though. Wait until you have several offers in hand in order to get the best interest rate, the most generous loan, and agreeable payment terms. You'll need your business plan as well as your other market research, when you go to apply for these loans and grants.
Stock the Business
Now it's time to focus on inventory, including the things you'll need to produce work: office machines, break room supplies, and other necessities. Take advantage of rewards cards, online discount retailers like Overstock.com, and wholesalers like Costco. Unfortunately, Sam's Club closed its Canadian stores, but there are ways to get free office supplies with services like Freecycle Network.
Get Necessary Licensing
You'll need to register your business name with the government, which is now done online. You'll then need to get the necessary licensing from your province and the local municipal government. Each province and territory handles business licensing differently, as does each municipality, so check the local laws governing business with your local government. Some local governments make provisions for handling licenses and permits online, while others require business owners to come in person to apply for licenses and permits.
Starting a business and getting it running smoothly is a lengthy process, but don't let the detailed nature of the task get you down. Owning your own business is one of the most liberating things you can do, allowing you to showcase your creative talents, work ethic, management skills, and industry knowledge all at once. Taking the proper steps at the beginning of the process lays a solid foundation for the success you desire.
Whether you're one of the 2.2 million self-employed Canadian workers, or one of the 1.1 million owners of small businesses, a solid plan and faithful follow through are the most powerful keys to success.