5 Tips If You’re Thinking of Starting Your Own Business

If you’re thinking of starting your own Canadian business, you’re not alone. According to Startup Canada, there are approximately 3.5 million Canadian entrepreneurs. The economy has changed/is changing before our very eyes. Gone are the days of graduating from a university or college program with a guarantee of having your choice of job offers. Then there are those who may have been working in an established career and decided to strike out on their own. Whatever your reason for deciding to start your own business, the experience can be rewarding but for it to be successful, some pre planning needs to be done. In this article we’ll go over some of the basics to consider when thinking about starting your own business.

1. Create a Solution / Find a Niche

If you’ve worked in a specific industry for a few years, you may have experienced the pain points of working in that industry that are common to many others working in the same field. Or you heard the same complaint from the public/consumers over and over again. Maybe you are one of those consumers with a fresh take on how things can be improved based on your experience. If you can find a solution that addresses those complaints or otherwise disrupt an industry you’re familiar with, this is an excellent place to start and you’re already ahead of the game. Otherwise, look at your hobbies and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. You may have already thought about ways to improve that pastime. The idea is to choose something that you’re already familiar with (or can get familiar with) and know that it’s something you enjoy doing because you’ll be spending a lot of time doing it.

2. Research the Market

It’s important before committing to a business idea to know how much is spent every year in the market you’re considering (or the market size), who the players are (your future competitors) and how viable your product or service idea is. Shopify has a detailed blog post on calculating market demand that includes tips on using e-commerce channels and Google trends to help you discover what people are already buying, how much of it they’re buying and what they are searching for that’s related to the product or service you’re considering.

3. Set Your Goals

Or, as BDC put it in their article on successfully starting a business, “Think about the road ahead”. The first place to start is at the end. Visualize where you want your business to be and make a list of all the things you need to get it there including financing, a team, a workspace, equipment, raw materials, etc. You also have to consider the obstacles and potential risks of your industry and how to avoid them. Checking out an insurance brokerage site is a good place to start researching the pitfalls and potential liabilities of your industry as you can usually search their sites for industry-specific coverages. Those product pages will give you a good idea of the challenges businesses in your industry commonly face and how to address them.  

4. Look into the Logistics and Legalities 

This is where you find out the technical information you need to know about setting up a company, deciding on a business structure, finding out what licenses you need, the requirements to get those licenses and registering your business with CRA and your provincial tax authority. 

5. Write up a Formal Business Plan

Now that you’re armed with a killer idea, market research to back it up, set goals and a solid business structure, if, like most of us, you need financial help to get your business up and running, you’ll need a formal business plan. Even if you don’t need financing, having a formal business plan is still important. A formal business plan will be similar to what you did in Step 3 but more in-depth. Formal business plans typically include a description of your company, a sales and marketing plan, a business operations plan, human resources plan, an action plan of your business activities for the coming years, a summary of how much capital you need, a breakdown of how it will be spent and an appendix listing all the numbers and resources used for your research.

Adam Hansen