The year comes to an end and that pesky little business plan is still a blank screen on your computer with a lonely blinking cursor? You’re not alone.
A business plan is the single, most important document needed to access financing (the second one is your pitch deck). As an entrepreneur myself, I know writing a lengthy document might seem like a waste of time (“why not spend that time actually DOING business?”) BUT, if at any point in your journey you require a business loan, guess what? A lending institution will require a viable business plan.
Coming from a developing country, the art of opening a business is simply that – an art. You decide to open a restaurant: you can do it from the comfort of your own home, open the garage door, put some chairs and tables and BOOM, you’re in business. And although some businesses that have started like this end up thriving, the reality is that the majority don’t.
When we arrive to Canada with a business idea, we face the challenges of learning the new business environment and one of the first things we learn is the need of a business plan. In essence, it is your business in paper. A plan has a particular structure that needs to be followed (Executive Summary, Company Profile, Market Research, Operations and Financials).
For many, the thought of sitting down to write one is enough to cause anxiety, I mean, where do we even start?! For others, particularly when English is not your first language, this is an added challenge.
You can find countless (and I mean COUNTLESS) of online business plan templates, tools, and tips. At the end of the day, whatever you use, will only help you get a better idea and understand the validity of your business. It is easier – and cheaper – to open and close a business in paper than it is in real life. And that’s exactly what a business plan is all about.
A couple of extra searches online and you can find people you can pay to write it for you. STOP. RIGHT. THERE. You will actually be doing a disservice to yourself and your future business to pay someone else to write it. First of all, you are looking at paying five figures to get that done – it’s an expensive option. Most importantly though, it’s the fact that the whole point for writing a business plan is for you to discover who you need to target, what you need to do and how you need to do it in order to be successful. The plan will become your compass to refer back to if/once you’re operational.
If you are using this plan to access financing, the lender will ask you a thousand and one questions about it and you better know the answers to. If you paid someone else to write it and you know very little about the nooks and crannies of your business, the process of actually accessing financing will be more difficult.
My Top Tools
Business Plan Writer
I have researched countless of templates and the one that I prefer the most is through Futurpreneur Canada. By the way, if you’re looking for financing and you are between 19-39 years old, look them up. They have a library of resources and their most valuable is their business plan writer. This nifty little tool will start asking you questions about your business, and as you enter the answers, it will start writing the business plan for you. INCLUDING the financials part. They really have done an excellent job in taking the scary part away of building your financial forecasts and it’s actually fun to do it through this tool. Funancials…Fun. What the…?!?! This tool brings structure and methodology to the overwhelm of business plan writing. By the way, this is a free resource and anyone can use it, just sign up, plug and play.
Market research can be daunting and can quickly become a rabbit hole that will have you clicking links upon links, opening countless of windows and in the end get you overwhelmed with tons of information but very little on your actual document. Check your local public library! Many offer business services, which include (drumroll) market research services. FOR. FREE. All you need is your library card. The process is simple, you book an appointment with their Market Business Researcher, you give them the parameters of the research that you require and a few days later *ding* you open your email to receive a beautiful document full of amazing data, research and information that will help you get to know your industry/market better to build a top-notch plan. If you live in Ottawa, this is the link for their services.
“But my English is not good”
This is by far the number-one reason why many of my clients get anxious about starting the business plan writing process. I recently gave a talk at an Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneurship conference and I met the founder of Cuz Translation (he is an immigrant entrepreneur too by the way). This is a Toronto-based online translation and interpretation platform that provides affordable services through hundreds of previously vetted qualified and certified translators. Through their platform you can connect with them, hire their services based on language needs and securely upload/download the documents in different formats. You could even upload a screenshot and they will translate anything and everything. So, you could write your business plan in your mother tongue, shop around for translators through Cuz Translation, and have a business plan that is reflective of your business/industry knowledge rather than your English grammar skills.
There you have it – business plan writing doesn’t have to be daunting, complicated or paralyzing. Using tools available can make this experience a fun one that will help you determine how successful your business can be in Canada. Happy writing! 2019 is your business year.
Do you have other business plan writing resources in your toolkit? I would love to hear about them – feel free to comment and share.