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2. Prepare business plan

A business plan explains your business idea, short and long-term business goals and what resources are available to start and operate your business. 

A business plan explains your business idea, short and long-term business goals and what resources are available to start and operate your business. If you need help writing a business plan:

  • contact your local Small Business Enterprise Centre or, if you are a technology or innovation company, a Regional Innovation Centre
  • check available online resources, such as BDC , Futurpreneur , or BPlans for sample business plans talk to your local bank to see what tools they have to help you start your business

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  • Business plan guide

What is a business plan and why do I need one?

A business plan is a written document that describes your business, its objectives and strategies, the market you are targeting and your financial forecast. It is important to have a business plan because it helps you set realistic goals, secure external funding, measure your success, clarify operational requirements and establish reasonable financial forecasts. Preparing your plan will also help you focus on how to operate your new business and give it the best chance for success.

Securing financial assistance to start your new business will be directly related to the strength of your business plan. To be considered a viable candidate to receive funds from a financial institution or investors, you must demonstrate that you understand every aspect of your business and its ability to generate profit.

A business plan is more than just something to show lenders and investors, it is also necessary to help you plan for the growth and progress of your business. Your business’s success can depend on your plans for the future.

Listed below are examples of questions to ask yourself when writing your business plan:

  • How will I generate a profit?
  • How will I run the business if sales are low or if profits are down?
  • Who is my competition, and how will we coexist?
  • Who is my target market?

What should be included in a business plan?

Although business plans can vary in length and scope, all successful business plans contain common elements. The following points should be included in any business plan:

  • Executive summary (business description)

Identifying your business opportunity

Marketing and sales strategy of a business plan, financial forecasts of a business plan, other useful documentation, the executive summary (business description).

The executive summary is an overview of the main points in your business plan and is often considered the most important section. It is positioned at the front of the plan and is usually the first section that a potential investor or lender will read. The summary should:

  • Include the main points from each of the other sections to explain the basics of your business
  • Be sufficiently interesting to motivate the reader to continue reading the rest of your business plan
  • Be brief and concise – no more than two pages long

Although the executive summary is the first section of the plan, it is a good idea to write it last – after the other parts of the plan have been finalized.

In this section of your business plan, you will describe what your business is about – its products and/or services – and your plans for the business. This section usually includes:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you have to offer
  • What market you want to target

Remember that the person reading the plan may not understand your business and its products and services as well as you do, so try to avoid using complicated terms. It is also a good idea to get someone who is not involved in the business to read this section of your plan to make sure that anyone can understand it.

Some of the things you should explain in your plan include:

  • Whether it is a new business venture, a purchase of an existing business or the expansion of an existing business
  • The industry sector your business is in
  • The uniqueness of your product or service
  • The advantages that your business has over your competition
  • The main objectives of your business
  • Your legal business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation)

You can also include the date the business was registered/incorporated, the name of the business, its address and all contact information.

A strong business plan will include a section that describes specific activities that you will use to promote and sell your products or services. A strong sales and marketing section demonstrates that you have a clear idea of how you will get your product or service into market and can answer the following questions for the reader:

  • Who are your customers? Do some research and include details of the types of customers who have shown an interest in your product or service. You can describe how you are going to promote yourself to potential customers.  
  • How are you going to reach your customers? You should know your customers and the best methods to reach them. Research will help you identify the most effective way to connect with your selected audience, whether it is through the Internet, over the telephone or by in-person contact.  
  • Who is your competition? Once you understand this, you need to research their strengths and weaknesses and use this information to assess potential opportunities and threats to your business.  
  • How are you going to position your product or service? Describe what makes your product or service unique to the market you are trying to target.  
  • How are you going to price your product or service? This information will outline your pricing strategy, including incentives, bulk pricing and/or group sales.

Don't underestimate the importance of this part of your plan. Investors need to know that you and your staff have the necessary balance of skills, motivation and experience to succeed. This section describes the people working in your business and how you plan to manage your activities. Information in this section can include:

  • A brief organizational layout or chart of the business
  • Biographies of the managers (including yourself)
  • Who does what, with a brief job description of each position
  • The needed skills of each position
  • Any other relevant information related to personnel

It is also a good idea to outline any recruitment or training plans, including the cost and the amount of time required.

The operations section of your business plan will outline your daily operational requirements, facility requirements, management information systems, information technology requirements and any improvements you may have planned. This section usually includes information like:

  • Daily operations – descriptions of hours of operation, seasonality of business, suppliers and their credit terms, etc.  
  • Facility requirements – this includes things like size and location, information on lease agreements, supplier quotations and any licensing documentation    
  • Management information systems – inventory control, management of accounts, quality control and customer tracking  
  • Information technology (IT) requirements – your IT systems, any consultants or support service and an outline of any planned IT developments

Your financial forecast turns your plan into numbers. As part of any good business plan, you need to include financial projections for the business that provide a forecast for the next three to five years. The first 12 months of forecasts will have the most details about costs and revenues, so investors can understand your strategy.

Your financial forecasts should include:

  • Cash flow statements – cash balance and the cash flow pattern for the first 12-18 months, including working capital, salaries and sales
  • Profit and loss forecast – projected level of profit based on your projected sales, the costs of providing goods and services and your overhead costs
  • Sales forecast – the money you expect to make from sales of your product or service

Some other things to consider include:

  • How much capital do you need (if you are seeking external funding)?
  • What security can you offer to lenders?
  • How do you plan to repay your debts?
  • What are your sources of revenue and income?
  • Forecasts should be covering a range of scenarios
  • Reviewing risks and developing contingency plans to offset the risks
  • Reviewing industry benchmarks/averages for your type of business

It is important to do your research to find out how your business compares to other small businesses in your industry.

The following sections are not always required, but can enhance any business plan:

  • Implementation plan – this section lists estimated dates of completion for different aspects of your business plan, targets for your business and accomplishments. Appendices – these should include supporting material, such as licences and permits, agreements, contracts and other documentation that support your business plan.

Who should write my business plan?

Your business plan should be prepared by you, the entrepreneur. It is your business and your plan, but do not hesitate to ask for help from your management team, consultants, accountants, bookkeepers, copy editors or other experienced people.  

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Creating a business plan.

A business plan is a crucial tool for any business owner. It can help you get started, keep you on track, and make decisions as your business grows. We have the expertise and resources to help walk you through it.

writing a business plan ontario

The basics of a business plan and how to get started.

Watch this video to learn how answering five key questions can help you start your business plan. Turn your answers into a winning blueprint that you can use to build your business, access funding, and more.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a living document that defines 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. A business plan has 2 main purposes: it’s both your roadmap and your pitch.

Your business plan is your roadmap

Your business plan establishes goals that will guide your decisions as your business grows. You can return to it and update it to ensure that your choices align with your strategy and goals.

Your business plan is your pitch

Your business plan is also for the benefit of others. It tells the story of your company to help potential investors and lenders understand how you intend to use their funds. It should persuade them that you are well-prepared and should demonstrate to them that you have the experience and commitment to develop a detailed plan as well as 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

writing a business plan ontario

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. To avoid being caught off guard later, make sure you’ve researched and planned for all the important aspects of starting a business.

A business plan does not have to be a massive document when you first start out. To begin, create a simple one-page plan. This will assist you in organizing your thoughts before creating a full plan. Throughout the year, Business Link hosts several workshops that can assist you in developing a one-page business plan. Attend one of our “Bring Your Business Idea to Life” or “Business Model Canvas” workshops to learn how to do so. Visit our events page to find out when and where the next workshop will be. Our interactive Business Plan Builder is also a great resource to help you get started.

How do I build a complete business plan?

Our FREE interactive Business Plan Builder makes writing a business plan easier. This online tool helps you write a full business plan and make updates and changes easily. It includes samples and short help videos throughout. In addition, our team of in-house experts can help you research , plan, and review your business plan .  Contact us today!

writing a business plan ontario

Additional business planning supports for Indigenous or immigrant entrepreneurs.

Indigenous Business Planning Workbook A workbook designed for our clients in 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 Guidebook 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.

Explore resources for other business functions.

There are some tasks that almost every small business owner needs to complete before they get off the ground. These pages will educate you on some of those essentials to help get you on your way.

Financing Your Business

Licenses, Permits & Regulations

Finding & Hiring Employees

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Still not sure where to start? Connect with us for free one-on-one business advice.

Our team of in-house small business experts can help you navigate the process of starting and running a business with free one-on-one advice.

We can help you:

  • Understand and navigate the startup process including regulations and licensing
  • Explore strategies to be successful in starting or running your business
  • Learn about your financing options, marketing and sales strategies, HR, and more
  • Find the most relevant resources and supports in the business community

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  • Tools & Resources

How to write a business plan

How to write a business plan | cfib.

A business plan is an indispensable road map for your business’ success. While many entrepreneurs only write a plan in hopes of securing financing, smart entrepreneurs invest the time to create a plan that can take their business into the future.

A business plan is a living document, generally planning 3-5 years ahead. It outlines the direction a business intends to take to establish a customer base and start earning profits.

The key elements of a strong business plan include:

  • Company Profile:   What is your business’s mission? What product or service do you offer? What is your competitive advantage in the market?
  • Market Research:  What are the current trends in your industry? What are the characteristics and traits of your target market and what is the market share opportunity for your business? 
  • Sales & Marketing:  What channels will you use to distribute your product? How are you going to reach your customers? Will the web and social media play a role in promoting your goods?
  • Operations:   What will you need to run your business (equipment, space, staff, etc)?  Will you handle your own books or hire an accountant?  How will the business be structured – incorporated or sole proprietor?
  • Financials:   How much money will you need to get your business off the ground? How will that money be allocated?  When do you expect to start earning money?

Need help developing your business plan - We have the resources to help.

Business Planning Resources

Futurprenuer

Business Plan Essentials: A quick overview of what’s needed

Business Plan Writer : An interactive tool created by Futurpreneur, the Business Plan Writer has been designed to simplify the business planning process. Not only is this tool dynamic, allowing you to customize your plan, it also provides tips & tricks and plenty of examples to guide you as you write.

Mentoring :  Futurpreneur Canada matches entrepreneurs (18 to 39) with a business mentor for six months and provides access to start-up resources, but without the financing. Mentors offer personalized support to help you launch and grow your business.

Other Resources :

  • Scotiabank: Interactive Business Plan Writer
  • Business Development Bank of Canada: Business Plan Template
  • RBC Planning Your Business Site
  • TD Online Business Planning Guide
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writing a business plan ontario

How to Start a Business in Ontario (2023): Step-by-Step Guide for New Entrepreneurs

writing a business plan ontario

For someone thinking about starting a small business in Ontario , it is easy to talk yourself out of the idea. The economy always could be better. You can’t quite find the right location to rent. Or maybe you’re worried whether your business name is clever enough. (The latter may be a clear sign that you’re stalling.)

The truth is that starting a business is nearly always a daunting process. But at some point, you’ll never know whether you can make it a success unless you overcome your fears and pull the trigger.

Granted, quite a few Canadian start-ups don’t survive beyond several years. But more make it than you may think, according to an Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada study , which shows:

Those odds are not too bad, especially considering how many start-ups aren’t anywhere as near well-prepared as they should be before unlocking the doors and turning on the neon “OPEN” sign.

You can give yourself a better chance to have both short- and long-term success when you take the time to prepare yourself as much as you can. (Better preparedness is likely to silence the doubting voice inside your head as well.)

Our beginner’s guide on how to start to a small business in Ontario aims to help you with your research. We’ll discuss a variety of things you need to know to give yourself the best chance at making it 3, 5, or 10 years and beyond with our 10 steps to starting a business in Ontario.

Let’s get started!

writing a business plan ontario

Starting a Business in Ontario: 10 Steps to Success

Following a proven formula is a good way to reduce risk and increase your chances of success (which is one reason why franchises are popular ).

In the following sections we cover these steps for setting up – and growing – a thriving business in Ontario:

Let’s cover each one in detail:

Step #1: Come Up with Business Ideas

Although some people can have success jumping on the first entrepreneurial idea that comes to mind, we would recommend thinking of several potential ideas. Doing a little research on the business market in Ontario can spark multiple ideas for you.

What Are the Top Industries in Ontario?

Understanding which industries are already successful in Ontario is a good way to come up with business ideas. Ontario offers a mixture of traditional industries like forestry and mining with high-tech industries like green energy and robotics.

The provincial government highlights the 12 most important Ontario industries . Some of these are industries where Ontario is on the cutting edge, and some are industries that generate significant GDP inside the province. These industries include:

What Are the Best Business Ideas for Ontario?

After studying the top industries in the province, you may come up with a few potential Ontario business ideas related to those industries. During your research, it’s important to understand that multiple sub-industries exist within each of the main industries.

Just saying that you want to start a tourism business in Ontario is a good starting point, but it’s probably not quite detailed enough. You may want to focus on a sub-industry of the tourism industry.

Perhaps you want to directly deal with tourists, such as through a bed and breakfast or a restaurant. Maybe you prefer to supply locally made products to retail stores where tourists will visit.

To get you started, we’ve covered some popular types of businesses in Ontario in our step-by-step guides:

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Where Is the Best Place to Start a Business in Ontario?

Finding a great business location is another key consideration when trying to start a new business in Ontario. We’re not saying you have to settle on a particular address at this point in the process, but you can come up with general areas where each of your business ideas may work best.

Technical businesses that require specific skill sets may have more success when located near high population areas.

Ontario’s total population is about 15 million, with a significant percentage of that total located in Toronto at almost 5.7 million. Ottawa also has a large population of almost 1.1 million. Including the large population centers of Hamilton, Kitchener, and London, the majority of the province’s population is in the southeastern area.

As you travel to the north and west in Ontario, you’ll find more rural areas. These may be more advantageous locations for starting businesses related to industries like mining, forestry, and agriculture.

Step #2: Select the Type of Business You Want to Start in Ontario

With a few business ideas in mind, you then can begin to narrow your focus for the business.

Offering Goods or Services

One of the most basic differences among various businesses is whether they offer goods or services. (Some offer both goods and services.)

For a business that offers goods, you would be selling products that you make yourself or that you purchase from a supplier and then resell at a profit. If you make your own products, you would have costs to obtain the raw materials.

For a business that offers services, you would be doing things for other people and businesses. You would need to invest in time and equipment that allows you to provide the services. Many business owners who offer services charge customers by the hour or by the job.

As a service business, you might also offer goods. For example, a business that cuts and styles hair as a service may also sell hair care products as goods.

Running a Business in Person or Online

Traditionally, businesses operate in a retail location where customers visit you in person to obtain goods or to set up services. Modern businesses in Ontario, though, can operate completely online, if desired. You would rarely, if ever, meet your customers face to face with an online business.

If you are operating a business from a location where customers will visit you, you almost certainly will have an online version of the business as well.

As a business that operates “offline,” you may have an area where you interact with customers, as well as an area where employees do their work.

As a business that operates completely “online,” employees would do their work remotely. Employees may visit a customer to perform services at the customer’s location in an online business, but your business probably wouldn’t have a particular space where customers could visit you in person.

If you are running a business with you as the only employee, you will have a far easier time running an online-only business than if you have dozens of employees. With large numbers of employees or if you need to entertain customers, an offline business is far more common.

Important Aspects of an Offline Business

If you are running a brick-and-mortar business, you need a great location in Ontario. If you rely on customers visiting your business to make sales and generate profits, having a remote location that’s too difficult for customers to visit will cost you money.

If customers are visiting your location, you must offer excellent customer service. Whether you or your employees are interacting with your customers, you want your location to feel welcoming and comfortable for customers.

Physical business locations have costs for things like utilities, maintenance, insurance, janitorial services, product storage, inventory tracking systems, and point-of-sale systems.

Offline Business Examples in Ontario

Important aspects of an online business.

When starting an online business, some Ontario entrepreneurs will operate the business out of a spare bedroom or basement at home. When you don’t need to host customers or provide a space for employees to work, you can operate your online business from almost anywhere.

It’s vital to have a strong digital presence when operating an online business. You must invest in a website, in a social media presence, and in a fast and reliable internet connection. You also need to be able to communicate efficiently with your customers via email, telephone, and text, because you won’t see them face to face.

Customer loyalty can be difficult to build with an online business because of the lack of personal interaction. If you are operating a business in a niche area of an industry, though, where you are one of only a few businesses that offer certain products or services, you can keep customers coming back.

Trying to operate an online store that offers a significant number of retail products in a variety of areas makes it tougher for you to stand out from the crowd versus operating as a niche retailer.

Online Business Examples in Ontario

Considerations for developing an online business presence in ontario.

The Building a Digital Ontario website offers multiple resources to help you understand strategies involved in online business development.

Start with a professional-looking website. Multiple subscription services help you with starting, hosting, and designing a website that will look great and will help you serve your customers. Many of these website hosting services also can walk you through the process of creating an online store, including taking payments securely.

You may want to consider email marketing software packages that help you stay at the front of mind for your customers. You can announce special offers or new products and services through email marketing.

Social media marketing is another key factor in running a successful online business. Because you do not meet with your customers face to face, social media gives you an opportunity to show off your personality and to connect with customers in a way that generates brand loyalty. Some tips for using social media with your Ontario business include:

Step #3: Buy an Existing Ontario Business or Start from Scratch

When starting your Ontario business, you have a couple of options. Some people prefer the idea of starting a new business, while others choose to purchase an existing business that’s for sale.

Starting an Ontario Business from Nothing

When most people think of starting a business, they really only consider doing so from scratch. This is a common option for entrepreneurs. If you want to control every aspect of setting up the business, starting a new business is going to be most satisfying for you.

When you start a business from scratch, though, you have to do a lot of work. It takes significant time to handle all the decisions required for a new business. It is not easy to have the skills and interests required to handle every aspect of starting a new business.

However, it can be extremely satisfying to create something from nothing. When you start a new business that ends up being successful, you can create a legacy that you can pass down to your children.

Buying a Franchise

If you would like to start a new business, but you also would like the help of a brand name to give you a leg up in the market, buying the rights to a franchise might be your best option.

With a franchise, you receive the right to operate a known brand name business in a certain area of Ontario. With most franchises, you receive protection from other franchisees opening the same brand name store in your location.

The franchise requires a lot of investment dollars, as you have to find a building for the business and then design it according to the guidelines of the franchise. You also have to pay for the right to hold the franchise.

But this type of business is yours; you own it. You have some limitations on how you can run it, depending on the franchise’s rules, but the franchise helps with advertising and brand awareness, taking those tasks off your plate.

Always thoroughly investigate any franchise opportunity before you buy. Some franchises are scams. Have an attorney look over any franchise agreement to make sure you are receiving the benefits you believe you are receiving.

Buying an Existing Business

Another option that is important to consider for an Ontario entrepreneur is to purchase an existing business. This process cuts down on the preliminary work that you must do to begin running the business, which appeals to some entrepreneurs.

Some people sell their businesses when they are ready to retire or when they simply want to do something new. When someone is selling a business, it doesn’t mean that the business is failing and the seller is trying to bail. You can have success purchasing an existing business.

When purchasing a business, request help from attorneys and CPAs to verify the financials for the business. The current business owner might exaggerate the business’ profit levels, meaning you end up paying more for the business than you should. Professionals can help you develop an accurate value.

To find existing businesses for sale in Ontario, you can check multiple options on the internet, which we’ll discuss next.

Ontario Business Brokers

One of the best ways to purchase an existing business is to make use of a business broker. Brokers have detailed knowledge of the existing business market in the province, helping you find the perfect business for your skills and interests.

Business brokers can even work to find you a business in a certain location or in a certain industry. Because business brokers know the market so well, they may even be able to give you advanced notice when a business could be coming on the market, so you can do some preliminary homework and perhaps make an offer before others.

Once you decide to purchase an existing business, business brokers can help to negotiate the deal. If the negotiations seem to be stalled, a broker may be able to step in and find common ground between you as the buyer and the seller.

Multiple trusted business brokers operate in Ontario, including:

Ontario Online Business Marketplace Websites

Ontario real estate brokerages with business listings, ontario businesses for sale by owner classified ads, step #4: pay attention to government requirements.

Operating a business in Ontario – or anywhere in Canada – requires you to submit to some government oversight. This can be a frustrating aspect of owning a business, but it is a necessary one.

Determining Your Business’ Operational Structure

In Ontario, the most common business structures you will use are:

Selecting the right legal structure for the business is important, as this determines the taxes you owe and the liability you personally have for the business, among other things. Simple, one-person businesses often will be sole proprietorships. Complex businesses with multiple shareholders will register as corporations.

Creating a Legal Name for Your Ontario Business

You then can select a legal name for the business. You must have a name that differs from any other business name in use in Ontario.

Use the Ontario Business Registry to search for existing names. We’d suggest coming up with several potential names.

If your business name is available, then check social media and the internet to make sure you can create a website and social media accounts to match your desired business name. If a matching website is not available, you may want to cross that name off your list.

Registering Your Ontario Business

Once you have a legal structure and name in mind, you are ready to register the business with Ontario . You will have to create an account with ServiceOntario to be able to register online.

If you’re uncertain about how to get started, the easiest way to register your business is with an established business registration service like Ownr , which is owned by the bank RBC (you can check out Ownr here and get 15% off ).

writing a business plan ontario

Obtaining Permits and Licences for Your Ontario Business

To see if you need licences and permits that match the type of business you are running in Ontario, you should use BizPaL . Select your province and type of business at the BizPaL website, and BizPaL will return a list of permits and licences.

You also may want to check with your local city government for any particular licences or permits required locally. Even small cities may require certain permits, so always check.

Regulations for Ontario Businesses

Depending on the type of business you are running, you may need to follow a number of regulations, including:

You also may need to follow various workplace laws, including:

You may want to have your attorney give you advice on which regulations your particular business must follow.

Step #5: Estimate Your Potential Business Costs

Although the steps we’ve discussed so far may seem challenging to complete, perhaps the toughest aspect of starting a business is finding the start-up money to cover the costs you have for your particular type of business.

Not only do you need money to perform the tasks required before you can open your business’ doors, but you also need some money to help you ride out what could be some slow times in the early days and weeks of the business until you can begin making regular sales and – hopefully – turning a profit.

Estimated Costs to Start an Ontario Business

Different types of businesses have different start-up costs. Here are some estimates for various businesses. (These are broad estimates, and your actual start-up costs could differ.)

One-Time Costs for New Ontario Businesses

As a new business in Ontario, you may have several different start-up costs that you have to pay before you can open your doors to customers, including:

Ongoing Costs to Operate New Ontario Businesses

After your business is in operation, you will have additional costs to keep the business running from day to day. These can include:

Step #6: Create Your Business Plan

Although some people may attempt to start a business without a business plan, this rarely is a good idea. The business plan outlines your vision for your business and can give other people an idea of what you are trying to accomplish.

A business plan forces you to take a realistic look at your business idea. You have to clearly state what the business will do, and you need to think about realistic goals that you would like to accomplish with the business.

If you are seeking investment money in the form of a loan, from a venture capitalist, or from a business partner, such people may require you to put together a business plan before they will consider giving you any money. Some business insurance providers also want to see a business plan.

Explaining how your business idea will work can be difficult to do verbally. The business plan forces you to put your ideas in writing. This can help others see your vision for the business and perhaps want to share in it.

How to Write a Business Plan in Ontario

Do not feel like you have to create your business plan without any guidance. Resources like the federal government offer guidelines for creating your business plan.

Ultimately, your business plan should contain several pieces of pertinent information, including:

Step #7: Find Startup Financing

Finding the money you need to start running your business is extremely important. Without enough start-up financing, your business may run out of money before you are able to develop a strong customer base. You have a few different options for seeking financing for your business.

Using Your Own Financing Money

When starting a new business, you are going to have to place some of your own money into the financing process. Some sources of your own money that you can put into your business include:

Without having some money at risk in the business, you may have a difficult time finding others who are willing to give you money for your business. Other financiers want to see that you have enough faith in your business idea that you are willing to place some of your own assets into the business venture.

Finding “Free” Money

If you can find money to sink into your business that doesn’t require you to pay it back, this is the best type of business financing to use. (It’s also some of the most difficult money to obtain, unfortunately.)

Finding at least some “free” money can be the difference in having a successful business venture and a business that goes bankrupt after several months, so it’s worth taking the time to try to find sources of no-strings-attached money. Some options include:

Loans and Debt Financing

Most new entrepreneurs probably think that loans will be the primary financing option available to them. And while loans often are important, you may find that they are difficult to obtain, especially for a business owner with no track record of success.

Chances are high that loans will only represent a portion of the money you need to start your Ontario business.

Additionally, the types of loans you obtain probably will go well beyond calling your local bank and seeking a new business loan. Some of the options for obtaining loans and debt financing for your new Ontario business include:

Equity Financing

Another option you may want to explore involves seeking equity financing. This means you sell a percentage of the ownership in your business in exchange for funding you can use to start or operate the business.

Although equity financing works nicely, it will not fit the needs of every entrepreneur. Often, someone who purchases a portion of your business is going to want to have a say in how the business operates. If you are starting a business in Ontario because you want to have full control, giving up some of that control to obtain start-up money may frustrate you.

Before agreeing to accept any equity financing from an investor, you will want to have a clear understanding – preferably in writing – about what the equity investor expects to receive as a part owner of the business. Options for finding equity financing include:

Step #8: Seek Professional Help with Legal Items and Accounting

As a new business owner, you are going to be wearing a lot of different hats. You need to have expertise in several different areas to be able to run the business successfully.

However, it’s also important to understand exactly when you are in over your head. For example, unless you have a legal background, we would not recommend tackling legal issues related to your business on your own.

Instead, hire a lawyer who can make sure you are operating the business in a legal manner, who can review any agreements and contracts you need to sign, or who can advise you on what kinds of governmental regulations you need to follow.

Along those same lines, consider hiring an accountant or a CPA to ensure that you are tracking your finances properly. Having an insurance agent or a banker that you can trust is a good idea, too.

Some new business owners may want to hire a mentor to help them work through some difficult aspects of starting a business in Ontario.

Step #9: Find Advice for Starting Your Ontario Business

When you need advice about starting your new business, you have a number of different options available to you in the province.

Ontario Resources for Business Start-Ups

Some of the resources you can use as an Ontario business start-up include:

Ontario Business Networking Options

Consider speaking with other small business entrepreneurs in Ontario to gain some insight and advice for your own business venture. Try investigating organizations that allow you to network with other business owners who may have been starting their own businesses a few years ago – sitting in the exact same position you are in now.

Ontario Business Directories

A business directory is a website that collects information about individual businesses. The directory will list your contact information and some basic information about what your business does, along with many other similar businesses.

Some business directories may collect information about your business and automatically add it. Others may require that you request to be included on the website.

Either way, it’s important that you keep an eye on your business directory entries, ensuring all contact information is up to date and accurate. If a potential customer tries to contact you through a business directory but encounters inaccurate information, the customer probably will immediately move on to one of your competitors who are also part of the business directory.

Some business owners occasionally visit business directory websites themselves to check for accurate information. Others rely on local SEO service software to monitor business directories on a regular basis.

Ontario Business Associations and Organizations

If you want to gain legitimacy in the eyes of potential customers and fellow business owners in Ontario, consider joining local business associations and organizations. You can showcase signage indicating these memberships at your brick-and-mortar store, so customers can see them, or on your website if you run a digital business.

Such memberships can help you learn more about how to run a business in Ontario, while also finding fellow entrepreneurs who may be willing to provide advice for you. You may have to pay annual or monthly fees to be a member of some of these Ontario associations and organizations, including:

Depending on the type of business you are running, you might consider joining local professional organizations that fit your particular skill set and industry. CIPS Ontario serves local IT professionals, for example.

Ontario Business Awards

Many local associations and organizations in the province provide awards to entrepreneurs and businesses. With some of these awards, you must be a member of the organization to have a chance to win. Other awards are available to any business owner in the local area. You may have to request a nomination form to receive consideration.

When you receive a nomination or – better yet – win an award, you can make note of this accomplishment on your website and in your physical location, letting customers, clients, and employees know about your successes. Some business awards available in Ontario include:

Ontario Immigration Entrepreneurs

If you are considering immigrating to Ontario with the idea of starting a business, the OINP Entrepreneur Stream provides a number of resources.

Step #10: Avoid Common Pitfalls of Starting a Business

As you take the steps required to start your own business, you almost certainly are going to make some mistakes. No one wants to make an error, but when you are making so many decisions, you’ll probably end up regretting at least a few of them.

If you would like to reduce the number of potential mistakes you make, here are 10 common errors that new entrepreneurs in Ontario make. Avoid these, and you’ll have a better chance of keeping your new business moving forward smoothly.

  • Not seeking help: Starting a business takes some preliminary work and plenty of research. The Ontario provincial government has a step-by-step guide to help you find the resources you need.
  • Skipping a business plan: Although business plans are optional when starting a new business, writing a business plan helps you narrow your focus and helps you take a realistic look at the business idea.
  • Not researching all potential funding options: Ontario’s provincial government has numerous funding resources for new businesses . Take the time to research these options to see if you qualify, as seed money is highly important for giving your business the best chance to succeed.
  • Not considering the competition: Starting your new business in an area where local existing businesses already have an established presence can make things very difficult for you. Consider focusing on a niche area, rather than a general area, as you likely will have fewer competitors in the niche area.
  • Trying to do too much on your own: Although one of the appeals of starting a new business is being your own boss, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help. No new entrepreneur has all the answers. Toronto and Ontario have multiple business mentorship options available.
  • Overspending too early: It takes a lot of time and money to start a new business. However, being careful with how you spend your money, especially in the early days of the business, can give you a financial cushion to weather any problems.
  • Not buying insurance: With all the costs involved in starting a business, finding a way to cut costs is always welcome. However, do not skip buying insurance. Not having property coverage and liability coverage could cause your business to go under after one unexpected catastrophic event.
  • Not considering buying an existing business: Although starting a business from scratch is highly satisfying and is a popular choice among new entrepreneurs, consider buying an existing business, too. You may find that taking over someone else’s business is far more appealing to you, because it requires less pre-opening work.
  • Not paying attention to government market research: You should do significant market research before jumping into the world of business in Ontario, ensuring your business idea is workable. The provincial government in Ontario has several resources available that can help you do this research.
  • Not being patient: Any new entrepreneur would like to be up and running as quickly as possible. However, do not cut corners in preparing for the opening. Being impatient and rushing the process will almost certainly lead to multiple mistakes … including some errors that we didn’t include on this list!

writing a business plan ontario

Checklist for Starting a Business in Ontario

  • Come Up with Business Ideas – Think of a few ideas for businesses within industries and sub-industries that interest you.
  • Select Your Desired Type of Business – Pick between a digital or brick-and-mortar business, as well as between offering goods or services.
  • Choose How to Enter the Business Market – Decide whether you want to buy an existing business or start a new business from scratch.
  • Pay Attention to Government Regulations – Have a firm handle on any permits, licences, and registration requirements you have for the business.
  • Estimate Your Potential Business Costs – Figure out how much start-up money you may need, based on the type of business you want to start.
  • Create Your Business Plan – Perform research on the market for the type of business you want to start and create goals for your business.
  • Find Startup Funding – Every new business needs money before it can open, and you may need to tap into multiple sources of funding.
  • Seek Professional Help When Needed – Have lawyers and accountants look over your business documents and financials to ensure you are on the right track.
  • Find Advice for Starting a Business in Ontario – Seek out professional organizations and associations to join to find advice from other entrepreneurs.
  • Avoid Common Mistakes – Learn from mistakes other new entrepreneurs in Ontario made and then avoid those errors.

writing a business plan ontario

About the author

Maurice (Moe) Muise learned the ins-and-outs of government while an employee of the Government of Canada in Ottawa for 10 years. His current focus is helping small businesses in Ontario to identify and maximize government grants to grow their business. Click here to learn more about Moe’s background and how he can help your business.

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Writing a business plan for a Ontario based business

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Small businesses form the backbone of the Ontario economy. However, running a small business comes with its own set of challenges, especially during the initial stages. Often, the most pressing issue is the availability of funding to grow the business, purchase equipment, or hire new employees. Fortunately, the Ontario government has multiple grants available to support small businesses. In this article, we will take a look at how to get a small business grant in Ontario.

Step 1: Determine eligibility criteria

Before applying for a small business grant in Ontario, the first step is to determine whether your business meets the eligibility criteria. Generally, eligibility criteria vary depending on the type of grant you are applying for. However, some of the common eligibility criteria for small business grants in Ontario include the following: – Be a registered business in Ontario – Have a specific number of employees, ranging from one to 500, depending on the grant – Have a specific type of business, such as manufacturing, agriculture, or environmental services

Step 2: Conduct research

Once you have determined that your business meets the eligibility criteria, the next step is to conduct research to find the grants that fit your business’s specific needs. By conducting thorough research, you can identify the appropriate grants and determine whether you qualify for them. Some of the reliable sources for searching and identifying small business grants in Ontario include government websites, industry associations, and special interest groups.

Step 3: Prepare a business plan

The next step is to prepare a comprehensive business plan for your small business. A business plan is a blueprint that outlines your business’s goals, strategies, and challenges. It provides a detailed overview of your business’s prospects, financial projections, and marketing strategies. A strong business plan is essential to securing a small business grant in Ontario since it showcases your business’s potential and demonstrates that you have a clear vision for growth.

Step 4: Apply for the grant

After identifying the appropriate grant and preparing a business plan, the next step is to apply for it. Applying for a small business grant in Ontario often requires completing an application form, submitting supporting documentation, and presenting your business plan to a panel of judges. While the application process may be challenging, it is crucial to submit a well-organized application that highlights your business’s potential and how the grant funds will be used.

Step 5: Follow up and comply with regulations

If your application for a small business grant in Ontario is successful, the next step is to follow up and comply with the regulations. Depending on the grant, you may be required to submit periodic reports, undergo an audit, or present your business’s progress to a panel of judges. It is essential to maintain good records and comply with all the requirements to avoid losing the grant.

In summary, getting a small business grant in Ontario requires determination, research, and preparation. The good news is that the Ontario government has numerous grants available to help small businesses grow and expand. By following the steps outlined above, you can increase your chances of securing a small business grant and take your business to the next level.

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Are you located in Ottawa or the National Capital Region, and looking to start a business? If you need a business plan but don’t know where to start, we can help. Bsbcon will create a customized business plan to help you secure financing, launch or expand your business.

Ottawa’s Startup Landscape

Ottawa is the 4th largest metropolitan area in Canada with the population of the National Capital region (including Gatineau, QC) nudging over 1.4 million. Outsiders often dismiss the city as a “government town”. But while it is true that the federal government and the City of Ottawa are the region’s largest employers, there is an active and growing startup sector feeding off the region’s highly educated workforce. Invest Ottawa is a key economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in the nation’s capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation. Their role is to promote Ottawa’s potential as a globally-recognized, innovative and future-ready city. Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, mentorship, training programs and services that synergize the local mix of entrepreneurs, investors and experts to drive ongoing success. Canadian VC report shows that Ottawa holds its own among Canada’s big cities in attracting venture capital, private equity investments and in fact tops the league for average deal value.

Ottawa as Silicon Valley – North

Ottawa’s self proclaimed label, “Silicon Valley – North”, is no empty boast. Research shows that the city has the second-highest concentration of tech talent (as a percentage of a city’s total employment) in North America at 9.9% and that’s just slightly behind San Francisco at 10%.

This growing tech hub is a base for multinational giants, homegrown success, high-growth startups and scale-ups with top innovators. Local companies include Shopify and BlackBerry QNX.

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Ottawa is becoming recognized as a centre of communications technology. Local firms employ over 21,000 specialists in this sector and continue to shape the wireless industry worldwide. Home to the top five mobile backhaul equipment market vendors, the top ten optical network hardware vendors and 90% of industry-led telecommunications research. Ottawa has a lead role in developing the future of communication networks.

Life Sciences

Ottawa’s life sciences sector has proved fertile ground for innovative startups at various stages of discovery, development and commercialization. With a combination of academic research, centres of excellence, government departments, and world-leading hospitals; Canada’s capital provides a lucrative and welcoming startup environment for leading-edge products, technologies, and innovations.

Ottawa has a growing cleantech industry, founded on more than 240 companies that employ about 5,500 highly skilled workers. As a G7 capital, Ottawa also boasts a large concentration of federal research agencies and laboratories that enable and accelerate cleantech R&D and innovation.

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Are you located in Ottawa or the National Capital Region, and looking to start a business?  If you need a business plan but don’t know where to start, we can help. Bsbcon will create a customized business plan to help you secure financing, launch or expand your business.

Ottawa’s self proclaimed label, “Silicon Valley – North”, is no empty boast. Research shows that the city has the second-highest concentration of tech talent (as a percentage of a city’s total employment) in North America at 9.9% and that’s just slightly behind San Francisco at 10%. This growing tech hub is a base for multinational giants, homegrown success, high-growth startups and scale-ups with top innovators. Local companies include Shopify and BlackBerry QNX.

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Business Plans for Investors

Attracting investors is competitive at the best of times. You need a clear, concise business plan to accurately and effectively outline your unique business concept. A business plan from Bsbcon will maximise your chances of success with Ottawa’s VCs and investors.

Business Plans for Immigration

Our team of writers will cover all the statutory requirements. You receive a business plan that uncomplicates the immigration process. We write plans both for Federal visa programs and the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program.

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A solid plan is the foundation of a management team’s success. Your bespoke Bsbcon business plan will act as a road map for your business.

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First impressions count, especially when it comes to raising capital. Put your best foot forward with a professional, tailored business plan written with bank loan requirements at top of mind.

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Bsbcon will develop a business plan that ensures you have a roadmap to success and get funded.  We have experience building successful business plans in a wide variety of industries across Canada. Regardless of which industry or market you’re operating in, you can be confident your plan will ensure the long-term success of your business.

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Call us today or fill out the form below to achieve your business goals with a successful business plan.

Bsbcon will develop a business plan that ensures you have a roadmap to success and get funded. We have experience building successful business plans in a wide variety of industries across Canada. Regardless of which industry or market you’re operating in, you can be confident your plan will ensure the long-term success of your business.

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