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Blueprint for small business success

Small businesses are crucial to every region’s economy. Often, they are started by people who followed their passion, drafted a plan and went to work - hard.

Starting your own startup isn’t easy, but the rewards are certainly worthwhile if you can succeed.

Here are some steps that can help get you going on your journey:

Research

Whether you want to be a dolphin trainer or take the plunge and start a high tech company, the first step is to do your homework. Research the industry and investigate the competition. Industry Canada is a great place to start your research. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your chance for success. The key is to learn everything about the business before diving in.

Choose an organizational structure

Once you’ve decided the potential is there and your business idea is sound, you’ll have to decide whether to organize your business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited or incorporated company, or a co-operative. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will be determined by the number of people involved, the type of your business, tax issues, liability concerns, and the financial requirements of the firm. A lawyer can help you make this decision, and an accountant can spell out the tax implications of each structure.

Name your business

This may not be as easy as it sounds. The name of your company becomes your identity in the market. Try for something short, memorable, and descriptive of your business. It’s also critical to check to make sure your chosen name doesn’t conflict with an existing trademark or someone else’s intellectual property. If a web presence is important to your new endeavour, check to see if your desired domain name is available.

Blueprint for success

You need a plan to make your business thrive. An architect wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, design a house without thinking through every detail. You need to do the same for your business. The process of writing a business plan is challenging and time-consuming; but very worthwhile. A typical plan includes an executive summary; a description of the business and its products or services; a marketing strategy; an operations plan; financial data and projections; a management description and analyses of the market; the competition and the risk involved. You can learn more about writing a business plan by visiting the Canada Business website or your local Community Futures/entrepreneur centre.

Location, location, location

With the advent of the Internet, having the perfect location may not be quite as crucial as it once was, but it still matters—especially if you’re planning a storefront or retail operation. Most local governments can provide a demographics package, local population projections and information about future development plans. Evaluate and compare different sites before making a decision. Once you’ve settled on a location, you must decide whether to rent or buy the building.

Money, money, money

Raising the money to start a new business is almost always the most difficult part. Equity in the firm is the amount of money that you are able to invest from your own resources. Debt financing in the form of short- or long-term loans is available from Synergy Credit Union. Among other programs, the Government of Canada offers the Small Business Financing Program available through credit unions and banks.

Make it legal

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to get licenses and permits to conduct a business. In some cases, it’s as simple as paying a licensing and permits to conduct a business. In some cases, it’s as simple as paying a licensing fee. In other instances, you may have to comply with regulatory ordinances that govern public health and safety.

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Watching a small business grow from the start up is one of the most satisfying accomplishments for any entrepreneur.
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