Kevin Birmingham is a new paralegal and SCOPE contributor. He discusses how important a business plan is, for licensees just starting out, and for those with established practices.
When you start a new business, any kind of business, there are a number fundamental matters that must be addressed – money, market, resources, and on it goes.
In addition to these big-picture items, there are a myriad of details that have to be worked through: name registration, HST number, mailing address, software, business cards, bank accounts, insurance, etc. Where does one start?
Creating a business plan could be the most important first step in launching a new business. So, why is a business plan so important? Who will ever look at it? Isn’t it nothing more than an elaborate guess? Taking nothing more than a cursory attempt at a business plan is to minimize its importance. Business plans are not simple; to create a truly useful plan takes time and energy.
Think, Think, Think!
The key benefit of writing a business plan is that it forces you to think through everything. It is easy to forget important details, but if you work through all the specifics, you will be forced to consider your cash flow, marketing, competition, fees, and so on. It can be intimidating, but it is far better to work these details out in advance, than having to react to an unplanned event.
The other important feature of a business plan is that it provides a measuring stick. Let’s face it, projecting income is a guessing game, and when you have no experience, most of the elements of a business plan can feel like a spin of the wheel. But, if you think of the business plan as a measuring stick, you are liberated. You must make your best guesses and then, when you have some experience, look and see what is working and what is not.
Put measurable goals and timelines in your plan. This gives you the ability to examine how the business is doing at any given moment and compare it with your plan. Is there a gap, between where you are and where you thought you would be? Look at the plan and try and understand the gap. Were your goals unrealistic, your efforts too feeble? Are you in the wrong marketplace? A plan gives you an objective means to evaluate, adjust and move on.
You are Not Alone
There are a number of resources to help you draw up a useful and empowering business plan. Most cities have business development centres, which offer courses and one-on-one evaluations. Many of these are low-cost or even free. Organizations and websites, such as the Business Development Bank, the Canadian Business Network, the Ontario Government, and the Law Society of Upper Canada, have resources online to assist in creating a business plan.
Creating a business plan can be a daunting task, but the payoff is significant. Even if you are already established, it is useful to set targets and goals, and think through how you are going to achieve them.
Business Plan Resources:
Business Development Bank (BDC)
Canadian Business Network – (Page specifically about writing a Business Plan)
Law Society of Upper Canada – Practice Management
MaRS – (Link to PDF on Finances and Business Plans)
CBDC – Community Business Development Corporation
Province of Ontario – Small Business Centre List
Kevin Birmingham is a recently licensed paralegal focusing on Landlord & Tenant and Small Claims Court issues. Having launched his practice in October 2013, Kevin Birmingham is vividly aware of the challenges of generating a viable income and providing competent service to his clients.
Contact Kevin at:
k.g.Birmingham Legal Services
503-7700 Hurontario St., Suite 238
Brampton ON L6Y 4M3
Tel: 416-316-9955 | Fax: 647-557-3355
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.kgbirmingham.com