What’s the biggest challenge when starting a business? Do you need a different business model to bring a new technology to market? What resources do you need? Here are some recommendations to navigate this critical stage of your business success.
Put people first
More than money or the right circumstances, business success depends on sound management and the people involved. That’s true with every phase of your business, from startup to later stages.
“People are responsible for the success of a business. What matters most is the team, their determination, market knowledge, added value and ability to listen, their ability to surround themselves with the right people and get support.”
- Gérald St-Aubin, Vice-President, Strategies and Marketing, at Desjardins Business
The importance of the business plan
With tools like a business model canvas, you can define key aspects of your business, including your value proposition, target clientele, cost and revenue structure, and more.
You can then develop a more detailed business plan to outline your competitive advantages, market, business structure and team members. “The more concrete, organized and well thought-out your business plan is, the more likely you are to get interest from partners, customers and suppliers, not just creditors,” says St-Aubin.
Find the right resources
The government, entrepreneurship training programs and various organizations all provide support for new entrepreneurs. With so many options, where do you turn first?
“When you talk over your venture early on with an advisor at your financial institution, they can share their own experiences and connect you with the right resources.”
- Gérald St-Aubin
Find out about accelerators, incubators and other socioeconomic players that support local startups. They can put you in touch with potential business partners or provide mentoring. Desjardins supports many organizations like this, so be sure to talk to your advisor; they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Get the right financing
It can be challenging to raise the money you need to start your first business. Alternative financing solutions, such as Desjardins Microcredit to Businesses and the Créavenir Youth Entrepreneurship Program, are here to help. These funds often count as a personal investment from the entrepreneur and can help you get government assistance or additional grants.
“Our goal is to support businesses from idea to market,” says St-Aubin. “We want to do this seamlessly, so we can help businesses and give them access to the liquidity they need at every stage of growth.”
- Gérald St-Aubin
Besides traditional loans, other financing solutions may be offered, depending on the business model. For example, if a tech business has few or no tangible assets, equity can provide the necessary funds with a financial partner’s participation.
And, depending on the nature of the product or service, using crowdfunding—through a platform such as La Ruche is another way to raise some of the funds a startup needs. It’s also a good way to find out if there’s actual market potential!
Support to keep you on track
“It’s very risky to go it alone in business,” warns St-Aubin. “If you’re supported by the best professionals at every step of the way and you talk with them, your business will be better aligned and you’ll increase your chances of success.” Management tools, streamlined payroll services, and digital and international trade solutions make it easier to manage operations so you can focus on growing the business.
What makes tech businesses different
These businesses often have few tangible assets; what they really need is funding to develop an idea, platform or technology. The business plan is an essential tool to demonstrate their potential and revenue model. “In many cases,” says Gérald St-Aubin, “the initial financing is lower, but there’s tremendous growth when they achieve commercial success.”
“The growth curve of this type of business is like the shape of a hockey stick: it starts gradually and then explodes!”
- Gérald St-Aubin
Financing has to support the urgent needs of this sudden growth, including the rapid increase in marketing and hiring of staff.
Accelerate market entry
Time is often an entrepreneur’s greatest enemy, and the race to market is a very real challenge. “Desjardins has solutions to help members launch their business,” says St-Aubin. “If you have a good idea, get it to market as soon as possible before a competitor does!”