Business Plans – A Roadmap to Success

Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential

Winston Churchill

 Writing a business plan can be an intimidating task and from time to time we will meet small business clients who ask us to write the business plan for them or recommend someone who will.  We do not write small business plans nor do we recommend clients pay for this service and the reason can be found in the wisdom of Winston Churchill.

The advantage of having a business plan is not in the document itself but in the process of doing the research.  A well written plan may help you obtain financing or attract investors but the research that goes into developing the document is really what an investor will be interested in.

As you put together your plan, remember that this is a living document that should be reviewed and reworked on a continual basis.  It’s not a task you do to get out of the way so you can get on with other things.  It’s a guide to help you navigate your business towards success.

You and you alone are responsible for the success of your business so it’s imperative that you understand every aspect of your business.

  • Working on your business plan will make you an expert in your business.
  • You will become more confident in your decisions for the business.
  • You will be able to anticipate problems and solve them quickly if they occur.
  • You will become more focused and realistic as you work out best and worse case scenarios and timelines.

Now that we have convinced you that putting together your own business plan is important, you may be wondering where to start.  Begin by looking at templates and examples. Look at examples and focus on the type of research required to validate assumptions.  There are many, many books and templates available to you online, at your local library and here at the Halton Region Small Business Centre.  Start filling in the blanks about what you do know and then ask for help in areas that you’re not sure about.

Here are a couple of useful resources to help get you started:

Don’t worry about a mission statement and executive summary until the end.

Do spend considerable time researching your target market and how you will make your prospective customers aware that you exist.  Realistic numbers for sales and expenses and an understanding of cash flow statements are imperative.

If you need any assistance, please contact one of our business consultants who will be happy to assist you or refer you to one of the volunteers in our Access to Professionals program.  

For more information about any of Halton Region’s Small Business Centre resources and services, and how we can help direct you to the right resources, contact us at 1-866-4HALTON (42-5866), www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, smallbusinesss@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @haltonecdev and Facebook at www.facebook.com/HaltonSBEC.

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