Your business plan should be the foundation of everything you do as a business owner. They are valuable no matter where you are in the process—before you start, if you’re already established, and even if you’re planning on selling or closing your business.
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that defines why you’re in business, your goals, and how you will achieve them. It covers all major aspects of your business, including your financial plan, operations plan, marketing plan, and more.
Why Do I Need a Business Plan?
You need a business plan for two purposes: it’s both your roadmap and your pitch.
Your Business Plan is Your Roadmap
Your business plan should guide all of your decisions as your business grows. You can refer back to it later to make sure your choices map to your strategy and goals.
Your Business Plan is Your Pitch
Your business plan is also for others. It helps potential investors, lenders, or suppliers understand how you will use their money. It should convince them that you are prepared and experienced enough to succeed. It should show them that you have the energy and dedication to create a detailed plan, and the communication skills to write and present it.
Your business plan is invaluable, no matter how new or established your business. Use your business plan to:
- Guide your business activities
- Get financing or investors
- Plan for future growth
- Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- Track your performance
- Plan your exit or succession from your business
When Should I Create a Business Plan?
Start as early as possible. Your final plan might be quite different from the first draft—your business plan will change and grow as you learn. Make sure you’ve researched and planned for all the important factors of starting a business, so you aren’t caught off guard later.
If you aren’t ready to create a business plan just yet, join us at an upcoming Business Model Canvas workshop and learn how to utilize the lean startup template for developing a one-page business plan to use as a starting point. Visit our events page to find out when and where the next workshop will be.
How Do I Create a Business Plan?
You can get help creating your business plan from lots of sources—your local library, financial institutions, government agencies, and other business service providers. Start with these resources:
- The Canada Business Network: This collaborative arrangement among federal departments and agencies, provincial and territorial governments, and not-for-profit entities has valuable information on why you need a business plan, how to write a business plan, and business planning frequently asked questions.
- The Business Development Bank of Canada: This financial institution owned by the Government of Canada has a free business plan template and an article on the basics of writing a business plan.
- Our team of in-house experts: We can help you research, plan, and review your business plan. Contact us today!
There is no “perfect” business plan. You just need one that will work for you and your idea. Some business plans are a few pages long, while others may be well over 50 pages or more.
What Should I Include in My Business Plan?
These are the most common sections you’ll find in most business plans:
- Executive Summary
- Business Background
- Industry/Market Analysis
- Environmental Issues
- Financial Projections and Analysis
- Risk and Mitigation
- Opportunities for Growth
- Exit Strategies
Sample Business Plans
Writing a business plan can seem intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. Before you start writing, read through these business plan examples. Use them as inspiration, but remember to make your business plan your own—it should reflect you and your business’ unique identities.
- Canada Business Network’s business plan samples: A directory of business plan examples and further resources from business development organizations, banks, and private sector organizations.
- Futurpreneur business plan resources: An extensive list of free resources to help you plan, write, and customize your business plan. Also features a business plan writer tool that will guide you through each step of the process.
- Indigenous Business Planning Workbook: A workbook designed for our Indigenous communities, but a great resource for any entrepreneur wishing to create a business plan. It provides vast information on evaluating your idea, analyzing your competition, and developing an operational plan.
- Business Planning Workbook for Immigrant Entrepreneurs:
This guidebook provides immigrant entrepreneurs with the basic steps of business planning in Alberta. You can use this guidebook to complete a business and marketing plan. Although this guidebook gives you what you need to start as an Alberta business owner, it does not have all the details. Each business will have unique characteristics. You will need to adapt what you learn in this guidebook to your specific circumstances.
- BPlans.com: Dozens of free sample business plans and templates, with how-to articles and resources.
- Search online for business plans in your industry. Some will be free, while other resources will charge a fee for access.