I’ve known for years that I want my own bricks and mortar space. As a blogger, I already have a business and for the past while I’ve been planning to take it to the next level. In the very first post I did for the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba blog, I wrote about finding this amazing resource through my own entrepreneurial journey. I signed up for the Welcome to Business course because I wanted to learn how to expand my blogging business. When I left, my head was spinning. I suddenly realized that I had a lot of thinking to do and if I was really serious, I would have to invest hours into planning the ins and outs of my idea.
A few months later, I registered for the Business Plan Development Workshops to learn “what exactly a business plan is and why I need one.” I went into the class thinking that I’d be able to quickly scoot through this process and get on my way with my concept. Once again I left every session with my head spinning. I learned that in order to create a long-lasting business, taking the easy way out wasn’t going to be an option.
Fast forward one year and after a lot of thinking, research and modifying my idea, I’m finally writing a business plan for the restaurant I plan on opening in the next few years. I’m so excited about it, my refined concept is perfect and the entire process of this exercise has completely changed my outlook on operating a business. Here are five reasons why I think writing a business plan is definitely worth your time:
1. Refine your concept.
I went into the workshop with one concept in mind and left with another. By writing a business plan, you’re forced to ask yourself so many important questions about your idea and in doing so, you’ll truly learn if your idea is perfect or if there’s a better way of doing it. Be open and willing to adapt and build on your initial idea if need be. , Spending the time to really think through your idea will likely make it even better.
2. Have a Backup Plan.
Many businesses ‘fail’ because they’ve neglected to have plans B, C, and even D in their back pocket in case plan A falls through. It’s impossible to plan everything, but having some thought-out (and researched) alternatives to fall back on can be life-saving for a business.
3. Be Aware of the Market.
As I’ve mentioned, writing a business plan requires a lot of market research. It is the only way to truly understand where your business will fit into the landscape (bricks and mortar or virtual) you’ve chosen. Are there other businesses like yours? If so, how does yours stand apart? Are other people across Canada doing something similar to you? How is it going for them? What can you do to be different? Why do you think your customers will support you? These questions may feel easy to answer off the top of your head, but after doing some investigating, your responses may change.
4. Know the Ins and Outs.
As a recipe developer, I never thought I would be measuring the ingredients in my dishes to determine exact costs or developing HR policies for potential staff. I’m so glad that I’m working on this now. As the owner of my business it’s crucial that I know all the details. I may not be the one taking care of each day-to-day task but I need to know what’s going on and why certain things are happening. You will know your concept better than anyone else but a business plan helps you think through every process along the way.
5. Need Funding?
If so, a business plan will help. The kind of business you’re planning will determine if you need a small investment or a large one. If you need to borrow funds, you’ll definitely need a business plan. The Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba provides loans up to $150,000 and one of the requirements is a comprehensive business plan.
It’s always good to have a business plan because you’ll never know when you need it! If this all sounds daunting, the good news is, the Business Advisors who instruct our Business Plan Development Workshops will guide you through this process. I recommend this workshop to everyone considering going into business or anyone who is already in business but didn’t take the time at the outset to write out their idea. Invest in yourself and your idea and start off with a solid foundation. Write a business plan.
– Ashley Wood