After an understandably shaky couple of years, the number of new Canadian businesses entering the marketplace seems to be trending back in the right direction. This is especially true for millennials, and Gen Z entrepreneurs, who are responsible for approximately half of the new businesses started after the pandemic.
If you’ve recently started a new business or are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, use the tips in this post as a guide as a checklist to keep you on the right path.
Have a Solid Business Plan
Business plans may be needed for funding, but when taken seriously, they can provide a road map to your startup’s success.
First, decide why it is you want to start this business and what your mission is, beyond making money. Having a clearly defined mission can help you make decisions when the answer isn’t always clear, will help differentiate you from your competitors and can get you buy-in from customers who believe in your mission.
Next, you’ll want to do some market research to know the size of the market, who the main players are, what your differentiator is and a complete a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to help you strategize.
Another key to any business plan is the financial plan. In it, you account for your costs, calculate how to bring your vision into reality and keep it afloat in the early going. Financial plans typically include income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, etc. Ideally, you’ll want to have these prepared by a professional business accountant, especially if you need them to apply for funding. Every business needs to consult an accountant at least periodically as they can ensure your numbers are accurate and help you make important decisions based on those numbers.
Keep an Eye on Your Cash
For far too many businesses, their downfall is caused by a lack of cash. It’s vital for your startup’s survival to be able to pay its bills, and it can only do this with cash on hand. This is known as your business’s cash flow – the amount of money coming in vs the amount going out – which should not be confused with profitability. You can make sales on paper, but until you collect on those sales, they won’t help your cash flow, meaning you’ll have to find another way to pay your expenses.
Networking where your customers network is one of the oldest and most effective ways to market your business and make a name for yourself in your industry. It’s also a good idea to consider networking with other entrepreneurs to learn from them. Startups experience many of the same growing pains regardless of the industry they’re in, and you can learn from others who have been where you are now.
Startup Canada’s Community page is a great resource for getting connected with other startups and mentors.
Once you’ve started operations, you’ll need to market and provide great customer service. But in every facet of your business, you have to be flexible and adapt to new circumstances. This could mean trying new marketing techniques, using different suppliers or adjusting your business strategy to address your current reality.