Business Plans

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a living document that outlines every part of your company’s operation. A business plan can be used as a method to secure outside financing or as an internal document to keep the management team focused on a common goal. A business plan isn’t just for start-ups, even established companies should have a business plan to keep track of progress and future growth.

What Should I Include in a Business Plan?

Every business is unique, therefore every business plan also needs to be unique. The information in your business plan may be written for different audiences, but most of the key information will be the same. Seven of the most common sections in a business plan include:

1) Executive Summary – The one or two page executive summary provides an overview of the entire plan.

2) Market & Competitor Analysis – This section of the business plan highlights the overall industry conditions and why there is a need for your product or service. Identify the size of your primary and secondary target markets and your customer demographics. List and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and the current market conditions for your industry.

3) Company and Management - This section of the business plan provides information about the company, its management team, and describes your product or service. Highlight what sets your company apart from the competition, and the special skills and accomplishments of the management team.

4) Marketing and Sales – The marketing section of the business plan outlines the marketing plan for the company and strategies to generate sales. Explain your marketing strategies for your product, price, promotion, and place. Highlight specific marketing activities, the cost to run the campaign and what the expected results will be.  

5) Financials – The financial section of the business plan should show the expected break-even point for the company, and important financial documents like forecasted income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the next five years. It’s recommended to have financial documents that show a worst case scenario and a best case scenario.

6) The Deal - If you are asking for funding, make sure that you clearly state the amount requested and the terms of the deal. Explain how the funding money will be used to grow the business, how much equity in the company the investor will receive, the expected return on their investment, and an exit strategy for the investor.

7) Appendix – The appendix section provides readers additional information if they need it. The appendix can contain additional charts and graphs, complete financial models, financial statements, patent documents, and 

Business Plan Resources

Here are a few online resources and organizations that can help you create a business plan for your company.

Online Business Plan Support

BDC Business Plan Templates – The Business Development Bank of Canada provides a template to use as an example of how to create a business plan. They also provide an Excel document to create financial documents.

Entrepreneur.com – Whether you’re just starting out, need funding or want to monitor the health of your business, creating a business plan is your first step on the path to success. Entrepreneur.com has an extensive how-to guide to help get you started on your plan.

Hundreds of Business Plan Examples - Bplans.com provides hundreds of example business plans for most types of small businesses. Get free examples of industry specific business plans to help write your own individual business plan.

Business Planning and Financial Planning Guide – Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Ministry of Small Business and Economic Development created this 42 page business planning and financial planning start-up guide. 

Small Business Accelerator Guides – The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre developed the Small Business Accelerator program to help small businesses create a business plan. The website has dozens of industry specific business plan templates to work from. 

Business Plan Support in BC

Small Business BC – Need help creating your business plan or just need someone to review your current business plan, Small Business BC provides a Business Plan Advisory service to review and provide feedback on your business plan.

British Columbia Institute of Technology – The Peter Thomson Centre for Venture Development has a 12 week online business planning course to create a comprehensive business plan and launch your new company.

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