Business Plan Basics
What is a Business Plan?
According to the 'Business Planning Guide' put together by The Entrepreneur Centre in Thunder Bay "a business plan is a written summary of your business and describes what you wish to achieve by being in business and how you intend to organize your resources to meet these goals."
The Basic Format of a Business Plan:
Table of Contents
The Market Strategy
Appendices and Exhibits
Building Your Business Plan
In describing your company, ensure that you are able to describe your company; and what it is that you plan do to. Being able to answer important questions about what makes your product or business unique, if it solves any problems in peoples' lives, or if you have any special knowledge or experience that you bring to the business.
Be sure to mention your value preposition: what is it about your business that the customer will see value in? Here are some sample sentence starters to get you thinking:
- In comparison with other business/products we ______
- This product/service fills a gap in the market because ______
- This product/service will improve/simplify/create ______
- The market/customers would benefit from my business because _____
Think about who would be engaging in your business. Where do they come from? How much money do they make? How old are they? Here is where you describe your target market - whom you plan to sell to, or draw in to your place of business.
The Market Strategy
This is your advertising strategy. How will your target market hear about your business? Your strategy can include a variety of marketing aspects, and how you would go about reaching your audience.
Here is where you will describe how your company will run. How will you ensure that your day-to-day operations and long-term goals will function?
This section will include a description of the raw materials required for your project. Include aspects (as necessary) on manufacturing, equipment, storage, location(s), and any other items that you think you would need to make your project run.
This section gives an overview of how much money you would need to start up your business, and maintain it after startup. Consider how much money you would need for things such as location, equipment, raw materials, and wages.
What Makes a Successful Application
Strategies for Success
- Get it in on time! The deadline is April 8th at 12:00 noon
- Ensure that you have all of the relevant fields filled out, including your contact information
- Check it over for spelling and grammar. This is an easy one, but it’s often forgotten!
- Give full ideas in complete sentences. One-word answers won’t fully explain your idea
- Consider how you would implement your idea. Is it sufficiently realistic that it could actually work?
Filling Out the Form
- Sell us your idea! Imagine pitching it to the real Dragons when you’re describing what your product/business does.
- Think about what you need to start this business. This requires some forethought into where all of your raw materials (if any are needed) are going to come from. Will you need to consider hiring some employees? Will you need to source product from a factory?
- Think about how your idea is unique – how does it solve a problem or fill a need in peoples’ lives? Why would people need your business?
- Consider the financials - things such as paying employees, how much you think producing your product could cost, paying rent on a storefront, paying for a domain name, advertising budget, and if you would incur any costs in transporting a product. There are many things to consider in the start-up of a business, but also in the maintenance of a successful enterprise!
- Tell us what you bring to the table in your business idea. What skills, knowledge, or talents do you have that could make your business idea a success?
- Ask your business teachers to look over your application when you are done. They are by far your best resources!
Guides and Templates
The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has an easy to use Business Plan Wizard
We invite you to download this very straightforward and simple business plan template
Read the Thunder Bay Entrepreneur Center's Starting a Business Guide
Business planning guides are available at Canada Business
You don't have to follow the listed business plan guides exactly; they are there as templates to help you organize your ideas into a comprehensive format.
OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES: As you begin brainstorming innovative business ideas you might find the following documents helpful.