Business Plans

How to Build A Business Plan

Just like everything else in life, when you’re starting a business
You. Have. To. Have. A. Plan.

I was honoured to serve as an expert advisor on this special episode of Startup Canada (@Startup_Canada) #StartupChats sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation (@cocacola_ca). This #startupchats was part of Startup Canada’s 10K Women Entrepreneurs Program to discuss why a business plan is absolutely essential for entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs starting their small business journey, and the most important details to include in a business plan built for success. We talked about the tools, resources and support you need to build a winning plan from day one. Here are my answers:

  1. What is the biggest advantage of having a business plan before you launch your startup?
    Smart #entrepreneurs create business plans before launch to proactively document & manage business objectives, structure, strategies, assumptions, current trends, economic direction. competition, risk, cash flow & assist in financing.
    @cocacola_ca #StartupChats #StartupWomen
  2. When should entrepreneurs have developed a business plan?
    Smart #entrepreneurs and #businessowners develop business plans before launching their business, refer to it to monitor progress, identify adjustments that need making, and update it regularly.
  3. How can business plans help entrepreneurs solicit new funding and support?
    A business plan clearly and succinctly communicates the opportunity, value of your business model, strategies and other success factors e.g. your team, making it easy for lenders and other partners to understand your value.
  4. How long does it take to develop a business plan? What tips do you have for entrepreneurs on carving out the time to build a strong plan?
    The time it takes to develop a business plan varies based on many factors such as your experience, offering & model, markets you plan to serve, etc. One thing can be sure though, your time spent will pay off over and over again.
  5. What is the Lean Startup Canvas and how can it be used as the foundation for building a business plan?
    A Lean Startup Canvas is a 1-page business planning tool that sets out the key information required to evaluate a business model.
  6. What should be included in every entrepreneur’s business plan?
    Business plans contain:
    1 Executive Summary
    2 Company Description
    3 Market Analysis
    4 Competitive Analysis
    5 Management/Organization Structure
    6 Products & Services
    7 Marketing Plan
    8 Sales Strategy
    9 Financials
    10 Funding Ask-Optional
  7. How important are financials in the business plan?
    A business plan isn’t complete without the numbers to back it up e.g.  sales forecast, expense budget, and cash-flow statement, which you can use to measure your progress and manage your dream.
  8. Business Plans can support a whole range of communications tools for entrepreneurs including pitch decks, 1-pagers, etc. What are some of the residual tools that can benefit entrepreneurs?
    A completed #businessplan can provide you with many tools to help you scale your business — from key messaging to spreadsheets to track your kpis and identify cashflow problems before they happen.
  9. What are some of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when building their business plan?
    I would say the most common mistakes I see #entrepreneurs make is not writing one, ignoring it once it’s written (rather than using it to measure their success) and not using it to onboard key partners.
  10. Where can entrepreneurs go to get support for creating and getting feedback on their business plans? Are there any handy templates, tools or tech solutions to build a business plan?
    There are many federal, provincial & municipal economic development supports & other organizations that support #smallbusiness #Entrepreneurs starting up e.g. @Startup_Canada @BDC_ca
    If you’re looking for financing, it’s always best to ask your banker what business plan format works best for them. 
  11. What is your final piece of advice for entrepreneurs on building a winning business plan?
    Like Nike says, “Just do it!”

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Sue serves the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) including; Durham Region (Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering, Scugog, Uxbridge, Whitby), Halton Region (Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, Oakville), Peel Region (Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga), and York Region (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Whitchurch–Stouffville) from her home office in Scarborough.