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Testing out your business plan and idea

Do you have a good business idea you want to act on? Great! But be careful—you may be so passionate about your idea that you only see the positives. Your enthusiasm may impair your objectivity. So draw up a business plan before you set off on this entrepreneurship adventure.

A critical step

Do you have a good business idea you want to act on? Great! But be careful—you may be so passionate about your idea that you only see the positives. Your enthusiasm may impair your objectivity. So draw up a business plan before you set off on this entrepreneurship adventure.

A business plan is the foundation of every new business. In it, you describe your dream to open a business and the ideas and assumptions that support it. It's a critical first step down the road to creating your business and charting your course. It contains your mission, offer, market research, marketing plan, financial plan and more. A complete business plan helps you assess the potential of your idea and its short-, medium- and long-term viability. You can also use it to attract business partners, investors and lenders.

Many people need help putting together their business plan. An advisor with a business start-up assistance organization can guide you every step of the way up through applying for financing. To learn more about these organizations, see Start your own business.

4 steps to validate your business plan and idea

Step 1: Think through your business idea.

Step 2: Write your business plan with the help of a specialized business start-up advisor.

Step 3: Test out your plan.

Step 4: Open a business account at Desjardins and explore your financing options.

You don't have to write your business plan on your own

Whether you want to open a caribou refuge or a web agency specializing in the arts, your business start-up advisor will confidentially review your business idea to make sure it is consistent with your vision and skills. Successful start-ups are able to reach their goals with the resources they have.

Study the feasibility of your project

You're a specialist in your field. You know what you're talking about—and so do business start-up advisors. They've met with lots of entrepreneurs and analyzed lots of business plans. You need to round out your expertise with theirs to assess whether you have a sustainable business opportunity.

There are a number of other people who can help you construct your business plan and test it out, including your direct and indirect competition, suppliers, partners, potential employees and customers. Everyone who has anything to do with your sector can give you helpful information. Make a list of your questions and determine who can best answer them.

For a detailed explanation of every step of the business start-up process, see this specially designed business start-up tool: the Desjardins interactive business plan.

Test out your idea

You can't learn about local market conditions on Google. Though it can be a frightening proposition for the timid, testing out your idea is key—especially when you're starting your own business and doing your market research, a critical step in the business planning process.

It's important to get out there to find out more about your competition, customers and sector and to take your project to the next level. You cannot go on perceptions alone. You have to stop imagining, assuming and speaking hypothetically. Put down that business plan and go knock on some doors to talk to customers, business owners and experts in your field. You have to find out what it's like on the ground. You'll see, it's not so hard.

Do a street survey

This is the best way to identify the actual needs of your potential customers. You just need to ask 3 or 4 questions eliciting simple, easy-to-interpret answers. Want to open a restaurant? Go survey people who work in the neighbourhood to learn about their eating habits, how long they are willing to walk to get lunch, etc. Test out multiple neighbourhoods to find out which would be best for you.

Spy on the competition

The best way to learn about the competition is to pretend to be a customer. This exercise will inform your concept and pricing. If you've already pretended to be a shopper and still want more information, just call to get answers to your questions.

Talk to experts, customers and distributors

Want to market a product? Go see distributors to talk over your idea. Worst-case scenario? They tell you the competition is fierce and a similar product is already selling like hotcakes. Best-case scenario? They give you priceless advice based on their intimate knowledge of customers' buying habits, likes and dislikes. If your product is under development, show them mock-ups or drawings. Show your product to potential customers and experts in your field.

Go ahead, take the plunge!

Once your business plan is in place and you feel you have an exciting, viable idea, you can explore your financing options and contemplate opening an account for your business. At Desjardins, you'll be assisted by an account manager who'll provide all the information you need to make your project a success and recommend the most appropriate financing products for your business.

Find an account manager near you

Videos

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