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How to start your business in 7 steps.

15 March 2021 by National Bank
How to start a business ?

Do you dream of starting your own business? If so, you're not alone. Lots of people think about it, but few take action to make their dream a reality. If you're ready to take action, read our 7 steps to start your own business. 

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1. Do I have the skills required to start a business?

Before going into business, make sure you ask yourself the right questions. What do you want? What are you willing to do? What wouldn't you do? Do you like to learn and make decisions?

Don't worry, you can build up the expertise required to start a business. If you're persistent and adaptable, you'll be able to handle anything that's thrown your way.

Take the time to speak candidly with other entrepreneurs before going into business. If you don't know any, contact networks of mentors or support organizations for entrepreneurs.

2. Is my plan realistic?

You need a good idea or concept to go into business. Clients must actively choose your product or service and pay enough for you to make a profit in the short or medium term.

Test your business idea with as many people as possible. Talk about it and survey potential clients. You can also use social networks or survey platforms to gather feedback. This is called crowdsourcing. 

Then, analyze people's answers and refine your idea. It's the perfect time to make changes if needed.

Your Business Model

At this point, write your business model. Start with your value proposition. What is your offer? What need does it meet? How does it compare to other products and services in your industry?

Then, look at:

- Expenses

- Income

- Client segments (who will you sell to?)

- Relationships with your clients

- Key resources (your employees, materials needed, etc.)

- Key activities (how you'll build up and maintain your business)

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3. Do I have the right support?

Whether you're starting your business alone or with others, you'll probably need some outside help—especially at the beginning. As soon as you write your business model, draw up a list of professionals and suppliers whose services you may need, such as:

- Legal advisor

- Accountant

- Banker

- Marketing expert/logistics expert

- Customs broker

- Website developer

However, some tasks are difficult to delegate. For example, even if numbers aren't your thing, you should still be able to understand your financial statements. Take advantage of all the training offered to entrepreneurs. Build yourself a network of business people so you can learn from their experiences, and maybe even vent a little when you need to.

4. How do I draw up a business plan?

For this step, grab a pen or keyboard and write your business plan. This very important plan describes in detail how you'll reach your goals. You'll need it to attract potential investors and apply for financing from a financial institution.

Set your goals based on SMART criteria. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

A business plan is a bit like a detailed itinerary you would prepare before going on a mountain expedition. The better designed and thought out it is, the lower the chances of unpleasant surprises.

Financial Projections

Financial projections are an important part of your business plan. Look at your forecast of income and expenses in your business model and make projections for the coming years.

You'll also need to set a price for your product or service. Consider both your expenses and what clients are willing to pay before fixing your prices.

Marketing

Your marketing plan is another important section of your business plan. Even the best idea in the world would fall by the wayside if no one knew about it. Think about how you'll promote your product or service to grow your business. Develop trust-based relationships with your partners, suppliers and clients to build loyalty.

5. Do I have access to financing?

Financing is crucial for a business. Before you apply for financing from a financial institution, make sure you have enough money to get started. You can also ask friends or family for financial support to launch your business. This is known as love money. Before applying for a loan, you should have accumulated the equivalent of three months of your business operating expenses.

Consider applying for grants. You can get funding and support to launch your business from the government, including at the federal level

6. Do I have the right structure?

To bring your start-up to life, you'll need to give it a structure and register it with the government. The three main types of business structures are corporations, sole proprietorships and general partnerships. 

Each one has specific administrative or legal features. Talk to your advisor to ensure you're making the right choice. They'll help you determine whether you should incorporate your business.  

7. Is it a good time to launch my business?

There'll most likely never be a perfect time to start a business. There's always going to be some element of risk. That said, make sure you're fully aware of these risks. In your business plan, did you demonstrate that your business is part of a growth industry? Based on your business model, does your idea respond to a need? If so, you're well on your way. 

If you've dreamt about this project for a long time, done the work and collected the funds required, you're most likely ready to launch your business. Do you want to talk about your ideas and benefit from our advice? We’re here to answer your questions.

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Views expressed in this article are those of the person being interviewed. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of National Bank or its subsidiaries. For financial or business advice, please consult your National Bank advisor, financial planner or an industry professional (e.g., accountant, tax specialist or lawyer).

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Our partner’s offers for SMEs

Take advantage of Lex Start's legal advice and the support of our other allies