Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where to find info for your business plan

Working on a business plan is hard work. There is simply no getting around that. You can find a ton of resources online on how to do a business plan, what kind of information you need etc. But one area these leave things a little wanting tends to be exactly where do you find that information.

I've had to do the basics of a business plan as I've been applying for the small business entrepreneur program through EI. While I have yet to succeed in my applications, it has not been from my business plan in general. Instead its been due to attempting to innovate and create a niche which means data is very scare on the ground, and not having enough to convince the review panels that my idea is economically viable.

I expect I'm not the only person who has run into this so I thought, as I posted before, that I'd share some of what I've learned.

Finding your data: Sources to look are the Canadian Census and provincial and even municipal data. For example, the BC government has the BC stats page which includes links for census data and a variety of statistics.  Metro Vancouver publishes a housing data book (pdf) which has income per household info. Why would you want this? One large part of your business plan is determining your customer profile, their incomes, age, location etc.

Proving economic viability: This one is a little tougher. If you are selling widgets, you can certainly get potential buyers to provide you with letters of intent for sales. When you are selling something art based though, or something new to the market, that doesn't tend to be so easy. What you can do though is what I would call more a letter of possibility. Interview several people who could be in your target market and if they like your idea, ask them to write a letter stating that if they were in the market you what you are selling, they would definitely look at getting it from you. You may even get a surprise and they'll write you something that says when, not if, and that they will get it from you. Of course, best yet would be make a couple of sales.

When it comes to your business plan, the more info you can gather, the happier the reviewer is going to be and the better chance of success.

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