Get ready for your business plan checklist

WomanYou’ve got your brilliant idea all set in your mind. You’ve done some preliminary research. Talked to a few friends. Other business owners. Mom, who thinks everything you do is brilliant. Visited the local Chamber of Commerce, business development office, the government small business loan bank, perhaps even have a source of merchandize and office space.
And now you are ready for your plan.
You’re visualizing success – You just KNOW your enterprise will be up, running and dripping in profits within the first year.In your mind, you’re good to go.Or are you?A business plan is your platform. Launch pad. Foundation. Pick an image – you get the idea. As long as it’s something solid. When you get to the stage of writing your plan – which should be sooner, rather than later – you will need to slow down and become exceptionally anal with the details.Yup, anal. Bordering on the obsessive. Because you can bet your boots that whoever you approach for startup funding (banks, for example) are going to be putting your plan under a high-powered microscope. They have to be accountable to their masters, shareholders, or, in the case of the government…to the government. They want happy statistics. Successes.
If you fail, they’re left with egg on their corporate faces. This is a highly undesirable position for them and they’ll do just about anything to avoid it.

People often reflect that the “banks don’t want to lend any money.”

Actually, that’s not it, and a trip to any Canadian bank’s website will show you a list of business plan downloads and loads of advice about doing it right. Look here for just two:

  • https://www.cibc.com/ca/small-business/article-tools/business-planning.html
  • http://cgi.scotiabank.com/planwriter/scotia_sb.html

And be sure to contact the Canada Business Network http://www.canadabusiness.ca,

Doing it right means ferreting down into details that may not have occurred to you. Yet.
The thing is this: start thinking deeply. Keep a pen on your right hand or pop open your laptop and make a list before you begin. Cover your bases and cover your ass.
The local business development bank officer in our town has a book-size list of hopefuls who have walked through the door for help armed with a bright idea and a one-paragraph plan, no money, and lots of enthusiasm.

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“When I told them about the legwork involved to move the idea to a tangible plan, they turn white, and then many of them disappeared,” she notes.
“It’s sad.”

It needn’t be. Granted, a business plan is a lot of work. The exercise of going through one will force you to think, plan, check out your competition, and prepare contingencies when the inevitable surprises pop up. Cock-eyed optimism won’t cut it, but solid detail will.
You need to demonstrate you’ve walked all the way around your idea, kicked the tires, and put it through every imaginable test before you drive it in to your lender of choice.
In my next blog, I’ll itemize some of the “must-haves” for a good business plan that will help you get taken seriously and get your funding.

About Jane Carthew Davidson

As a former senior public relations specialist with a large publicly traded multi-national chemical company, Jane Carthew Davidson produced the company’s award winning annual report for several years. Later, she was media relations specialist for Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), where she wrote speeches for the executive team, trained spokespersons across the province, and developed talking points and strategies designed to clarify the role played by property assessment within the municipal taxation system. Jane is a former business reporter for the Globe and Mail Report on Business, and the Toronto Star’s Business Today. Her articles have appeared in the Toronto Star, the Medical Post, the Anglican Journal, the Financial Post and most recently, the Globe and Mail’s special supplements on subjects as wide ranging as organic farming and new investment regulations. On several occasions, Jane’s media savvy and quick research skills enabled her to win broad media attention and investment queries from Canada, the Unites States and Europe, for a unique medical device start-up venture. Following Peterborough’s Flood of the Century in 2004, Jane handled media relations for the City of Peterborough, developing and implementing the communications plan for the city’s media outreach to afflicted citizens, concerned insurance companies, city staff and other government stakeholders.
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