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Monday, February 22, 2010
So You Want to Start a Business?
Many of us have had
countless ideas about starting a
business. I have also had the
experience of being a banker and
having people knock on my door for
a loan to get their idea up and
running. Having been on both sides
of the fence, so to speak, I
understand the perspectives of the
entrepreneur trying to sell his or her
idea and the banker looking for holes
in the idea so as to protect the bank’s
Remember, most people
who start a business and make it
successful are not any smarter than
you or I. It is often said that success
is the dividend of hard work, and in
the case of starting and growing a
business, I believe that to be true.
Yes, there can be some luck
involved, but in the end it is taking
forward your idea based on an
understanding of what will make
your business a success and the
effort you put in to making it a
Everyone has had a good
idea from time to time, but it has not
gotten beyond their imagination or a brief mention to family or friends.
My experience in dealing with
entrepreneurs is that they have
generally had more than one or two
ideas that they have acted on. If you
look at the basic evolution of a
business, it generally starts as being
conceived by someone who then
follows up with researching the idea
and convincing themselves and
others that it is a viable idea.
Finally, they achieve their idea
through the business plan that they
develop and use as their guide to
managing the business. In other
words, we can look at the evolution
of an idea as conceive it, believe it,
and achieve it.
Let us take the idea of a
coffee shop, say a Tim Horton’s.
You noticed on your recent trip to
Nanaimo, when you stopped by a
Tim Horton’s, that cars were lined
up waiting at the drive-thru and
people were waiting inside to be
served. You think…what a great
idea if I were to open a Tim Horton’s
in Bella Bella! You have conceived
your idea; now you want to take
your idea to the next step…to
believe it is possible.
It is natural to become
emotionally attached to your idea,
but you must become a critic as well
in order to convince yourself and
others that it is possible. You will
have to convince others, too, because
you will need financing or other
forms of assistance to convince the
Tim Horton’s corporation that you
can run a successful franchise here –
construct the restaurant, hire the
workers, and get it up and running.
To do this, you must research your
idea and find answers to numerous
questions such as, do you have a
location where you can build your
restaurant? Can you get the workers
needed? Can you get enough customers to generate the revenue
required to pay back your loan, pay
your employees, buy your supplies,
pay your utilities, and pay yourself?
Remember, you must sell a lot of
coffee and donuts to make that
Once you have convinced
yourself that the business can be
successful, then you will have to put
more structure to the research you
did by preparing a business plan.
You need a business plan to move
forward. Don’t fret if you know
little about a business plan, because
you can get help in putting your
business plan together. The
important point is that you have done
the research necessary to convince
yourself and others that you can
attract enough customers and sell
enough coffee and donuts to make a
profit after all expenses are paid.
The business plan is basically a map
that lays out your route to success.
As the famous ballplayer Yogi Bera
once said, “If you don’t know where
you are going, you will end up
somewhere else.” The business plan
will outline a strategy to attract and
keep your customers and lay out a
budget which basically identifies
where your revenue will come from
and the costs associated with
operating your business.
Now, armed with your
business plan, approach a bank.
Article by Jim Richardson, CEO of the Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation (Bella Bella, BC)