The reading level for this article is All Levels

As one of our profiled entrepreneurs pointed out in another story in this issue, you need to be able to trust your business plan. “Your business plan will determine whether you’re going to make it or not,” says Marc Gingras. It can help you identify problems you haven’t anticipated, come up with solutions to overcome those problems, or in some cases tell you that you’re on the wrong track altogether. In our final two installments of Business Plan 101, we’ll go over the plan to identify those areas you must examine to make sure you’re on the road to success.

As we’ve mentioned before, the process of creating a business plan helps you work through the future of your business before it happens. You’ll uncover challenges and determine ways to overcome them, creating a road map for your business. If there are roadblocks up ahead, now’s the time to find out. Let’s look at some key sections and identify where you should pay particular attention.

In the Company Description, you visited some key areas. Your Industry Summary in “Context” gives you a snapshot of how your business fits into your industry. Pay particular attention to the industry’s growth potential and forecasts. Is there room for a new player?

Jump forward to the Industry Analysis section to closely examine what factors affect growth and decline, and what entry barriers you might face. What about future competition? In emerging industries, you could plan ahead to be a major player, or fail to plan and be one of those left behind as things shake out.

Back to the Company Description. Under the Business Profile, you’ve outlined the specific factors which influence your business, including local economic factors, labor force, seasonality, and your dependence on special suppliers or vendors. While these will ideally show why there’s strong potential for your business, they may also alert you to imminent hazards. Is the labor force sufficient for your needs? How will seasonality of the business affect cash flow? Take a close look at these questions, and plan ahead for obstacles.

The “Challenges and Solutions” section of your Company Description is precisely that. What strengths or advantages do your Competitors have? Marc Gingras discovered that an established foreign competitor could undercut his price substantially, making one of his entrepreneurial dreams a potential nightmare. Pay close attention to things that could leave you Vulnerable, including product obsolescence, market cycles, and economic downturn potential, as well as Legal Factors, such as restrictions and regulations that can hold you back, or future changes in laws or policies which could hamper your business.

We’ll help you identify more key markers in the next lesson.

The Small Business Funding Center grants permission to reproduce this article in its entirety only, with credit given to the Small Business Funding Center at

For information on grants & loans for your new or existing business call 1-800-658-9792 . Or write us at Small Business Funding Centre 1500 Bank Street, Room 425, Ottawa Canada K1H 1B8 or e-mail us.

This Entrepreneurship article was written by The Small Business Funding Centre on 1/10/2006

The SBFC’s mandate is to help new and existing Canadian small businesses gain access to government funding: helping young entrepreneurs gain the knowledge and tools to get funding to help start-up their own practice. Coincidently, they also have an interesting and educational monthly newsletter/online database containing hundreds of articles related to various business topics and related issues.