Looking to start a small business in Canada – in 2023 or beyond? Or maybe you’re more of a startup founder. In either case, the best way to begin is with our free business plan template. Here’s how to get going.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a framework a business owner can complete in order to make starting or optimizing a business easier. Whether you’re working on your business idea or you’re an established entrepreneur, creating a business plan can help you map out your values and overall approach. It’s one of the best ways to develop or refine your business strategy.
A well-structured plan includes some financial projection, a marketing strategy, and operational information important for potential investors and your own purposes.
Many beginners get tripped up thinking about how to write a business plan, which is why we created this sample to point you in the right direction.
How Canadian startups and small businesses can use a business plan template
If you’re a startup or small business owner, there are a few things you can do to make the best use of a business plan template:
- Get started! Whether you already have a business or you’re in the planning stages, working on a real business plan will help you discover aspects of your company that you may otherwise overlook.
- Make sure your business plan is tailored to your unique situation. It’s just a starting point, so feel free to add or subtract sections depending on your needs.
- Stay up to date on changes in your industry. Your business plan should be a living document that you revisit and update periodically.
- Make use of free resources. We have a lot of helpful content on starting and running a business, so make sure to visit some of our other articles for further education.
- Get feedback from someone with experience. Whether this is a mentor or another entrepreneur, external feedback can be critical to a solid business plan.
How to write a simple business plan
Keep in mind these are only rough guidelines, because there’s really no “wrong” way to fill out a business plan template. That said, there are a few best practices you may find helpful.
Leave the executive summary and business overview until the end
The executive summary is a high-level overview of your entire plan. It should include a brief description of your company, what you do, and your target market. The business overview takes a more in-depth look at your business, including your history, products and services, and how you plan to make money.
Include your financials early on
The financial section is one of the most important parts of your business plan. This is where you’ll include your projected income and expenses, as well as your current financial status. Investors will want to see this information, so it’s important to include it even if you’re not seeking investment yet.
Make sure your marketing and operations sections are fleshed out
Investors aren’t the only people who will be interested in your business plan. It will serve as your roadmap for navigating the twists and turns of entrepreneurship, so having well-defined marketing and operational objectives is key.
The three main components of a business plan
Other than the executive summary and overview, there are three main sections to a business plan: the marketing section, the financial section, and the operations section.
There are also three different ways of thinking about each section: strategic, tactical, and operational.
Strategic thinking defines your larger overarching plans. An example of a broad marketing strategy is paid media (advertisements).
Tactical thinking defines the individual actions within your strategy. An example of tactics within a paid media marketing strategy would be split-testing your copy and creatives.
Operational thinking is all about what is required for the strategies and tactics to take place. For example, if you want to use paid media but lack the time or skills to create your own ads, you’ll need to hire a paid media specialist. This is an operational concern.
The marketing section should include your overall marketing strategy, including your target market, how you’ll reach them, and what you’ll offer them.
The financial section should include your projected income and expenses, as well as your current financial status. This information is important for investors, but it’s also helpful for you to gauge which marketing and operational initiatives you can afford.
The operations section should include your business’s organizational structure, as well as a plan for hiring and training new employees. This section should also include any documented processes and procedures you plan to use.
Final tips for creating a business plan
Even if you’re not planning to approach investors, it’s important to have a well-defined business plan. Here are some tips that will make the process easier and more effective:
- Don’t let self-doubt or impostor syndrome stop you. Many entrepreneurs feel like they’re not qualified to write a business plan because they lack clarity around how they want their business to work. Filling out a business plan can actually help you find that clarity, so push through any nagging doubts and put in the work––you’ll be glad you did!
- Understand that the plan can grow with your business. As you evolve, so should your business plan. Keep it updated and track your progress against your goals so you can course-correct as needed.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes is a normal and natural part of being an entrepreneur. What’s important is that you learn from them and continue moving forward.
- Make it your own. The best business plans are the ones that reflect the unique personality and values of the business owner. So don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on it!
Creating a business plan can be a daunting task, but it’s important to have one regardless of your stage in the entrepreneurial journey. The tips we shared will help you create a document that is both informative and reflective of your unique business. Remember to stay flexible as your business grows and make sure to update your plan regularly!
Download the Canada Starts Business Plan here
This business plan has everything you need to put your best foot forward. Make sure to keep in mind everything you’ve learned, and feel free to add to the template where required. Download the template here.
This article offers general information only, is current as of the date of publication, and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.