Our business assistant helps you to find useful information, tips, and tools for starting up or investing in businesses in the Cochrane area.
Business & Start-Up
Learn how to write a business plan, fund a new start-up, setting up shop and everything in between with our how-to guides and tips for starting a successful business in Cochrane.
Starting Your Business
If you’ve found yourself browsing our Business Assistant, chances are you are considering opening a business in Cochrane.
For many entrepreneurs, the process of starting a business can be a confusing, lengthy, and intimidating process. The Business Enterprise Centre (BEC), located in Timmis, is a great resourse for those starting a business. The primary objective of the BEC is to simplify the start-up process by providing entrepreneurs with business resources that can easily be followed in a step-by-step fashion. As part of this process, The Business Enterprise Centre has developed a Start-up Guides for the surrounding region. Please refer to the guide or contact a BEC team member for assistance. To view the BEC Business Start Up Guide, click here.
Starting your own business can be exciting and rewarding. It can also be challenging, but you don’t have to do it all on your own. Ensuring you have a thorough business plan and the right resources will help improve your chances of success.
Firstly, ask yourself as well as friends, family, potential investors, and advisers whether you have the skills, experience, and commitment to run a business. Are you passionate about what your business aims to achieve? Do you have enough resources and connections to develop your business? Do your skills meet the needs of running the business?
Conduct Market Research
Review the Indicators and Maps tabs of the Business Assistant to gather more information about your potential customers and competition in the Cochrane area. There are a number of market research strategies you can use to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of running your business in Cochrane. Consider interviewing individuals and other businesses in the community, deploy an online survey, search online and on social media for insights into whether your business will take off in Cochrane. Our Indicators and Maps help to illustrate the economic landscape of Cochrane, as well as the demographics of our residents, workforce, and industries.
Start Writing a Business Plan
A business plan is a formal document which details what your business will do and how it will operate. This document is a thorough and detailed plan to help you develop your business and secure funding. Financial institutions use your Business Plan to determine their lending decisions for you to fund your business. We will discuss how to write a business plan in more detail in the next section of our Business Assistant.
The Business Enterprise Centre has developed some helpful resources that will assist you throughout your business planning process. Click here, to view the BEC Business Plan Template.
Fund Your Business
Once your business plan is complete, you will have a clear understanding of the amount of capital required to run your business in Cochrane. Funding your business can be done through a variety of means: grants, loans, angel investors, venture capitalists, as well as personal investment. The chart below from the BEC website shows a sample of the funding opportunities and programs that are available to new businesses, business expansion opportunities, and young entrepreneurs. Click here to learn more about each program.
Growth and Expansion
Starter Company Plus ● ● ● Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC) ● ● ● Futurpreneur ● ● ● Community Futures Development Corporation ● ● ● Canada Small Business Financing Program ● ● ● Nishnawbe Aski Development Corporation (NADF) ● ● ● Business Development Bank of Canada ● ● ● National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) ●
Structuring Your Business
Determine the business ownership structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporated, or a combination) before registering your businesses.
Registering Your Business
You’ll need to register with different levels of government in order to make your business legal. Ensure you choose a name for your business when registering that isn’t taken and that will reflect your business. Read more about registering your business in Canada on the official website.
Writing Your Business Plan
Your business plan will act as a road map to keep you on the right track to start, run, and grow your business. A business plan is essential for success and will help you secure funding, conduct effective market research, build marketing strategies, and invest in the future of your business.
Before you begin, take a look at some examples of business plans to get an idea of what to include, what details you need to gather more information on, and how detailed or succinct to write the plan.
The Business Enterprise Centre has developed some helpful resources that will assist you throughout your business planning process:
- Writing Your Business Plan
- Guide to Projecting Your Financial Statements
- Financial Statements Template
Structure of a Business Plan
- Executive Summary
- The first page of the business plan will be the last part that you write. It is a one-two page summary of everything included in the business plan.
- Company Profile
- Include your business objective, history, and vision.
- Market Analysis
- Demonstrate that a viable market exists for your offering.
- Provide more detail about what you are offering to the market. Explain features, pricing, costs, suppliers, manufacturing (if applicable).
- Detail who will be running the business and its departments, whether it is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation.
- Marketing Strategy
- How you will attract and retain customers, their buying cycle, and how your offering will be sold (online, in-store, etc).
- Financial Projections
- This is the most important section of your business plan, which should include a projected income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement for the first 12 months of business, as well as annual projections for at least 2 more years. This section will also outline how you are funding your business and what the funding is used for.
- This optional section is used for supplementary documentation required to support the information found in the main parts of the business plan (ie patents, legal documents, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, credit history, licences, and permits).
Selecting Your Business Location
Where you set up shop depends on your business type, business needs, and the market you are serving with your product or service. The main location decision you will make is whether you need a retail space or you can conduct business from home.
Evaluate Competition in the Area
Location is also dependent on the competition in the area. Sometimes it is beneficial to conduct business nearby other competition, while other business operates more successfully when it has few competitors in the area, depending on the need for suppliers, customers, and networks in the area.
Restrictions and Regulations
Before committing to a location, ensure that it is permissible to conduct your business there and that your business will not be restricted by zoning or planning regulations that can affect hours of operation, parking, noise levels, signage types, etc.
Location costs are another factor to consider when choosing a business location as your costs will be dependent on taxes, utilities, building improvements, parking, cleaning, and insurance costs for the location.
Another factor for choosing location is whether the workforce you need can easily access your location and whether the area will be valuable to your employees.
Lastly, ask yourself whether the location is suitable for growing the business in the future without paying extra in the beginning for unused space.
One Last Tip
Location is often an important factor in your business visibility, marketability, and accessibility. Scope out potential business locations at various times of the day to ensure that it is suitable for your business.
Leasing or Purchasing Commercial Property
Whether to lease or purchase a property is a major decision. The following advice could help you navigate the process and make the best decision for your business.
Access the Property
Consider the size, facilities, growth potential, access, signage, parking, utilities, etc when accessing each property. Look at the physical condition and structure of the building. Determine whether any repairs, whether small or large, are needed and who is responsible for them. Access whether the location of the space meets your business needs inside and out.
Ask Questions About Legalities
Determine the local planning controls, building codes, and covenants allowances for what you need to do on the property. Contact the municipality to learn about land use and planning regulations. Find out about the terms and agreements of the potential lease, for instance whether you can sublet the space, terminate the lease early, or expand in the future.
Consider the Costs
Costs such as insurance coverage, operational and capital costs of the business to run at this property, as well as taxes must be taken into account on top of the purchase or lease cost.
Attention to Detail
Ask for a copy of the lease or purchase agreement as soon as possible and read it in detail with your advisors.
Compare As Many Options As Possible
Look at as many properties as you can and keep track of the details of the prospective properties in a document or spreadsheet to make an informed decision.
Applying for Licenses & Permits
To operate a business you must comply with any government regulations that apply to your business and you may need to obtain licenses and/or permits.
Determine What You Need
Check with municipal bylaws, as well as the provincial and federal requirements of running your business. Consider consulting with a business consultant or legal professional to ensure you are compliant to run your business.
There are local, provincial, and federal taxes that will apply to your business. Get familiar with which taxes apply to you and prepare with a tax professional so you know what to expect.
Keep track of renewal dates for each license or permit you need so that you can easily renew when it’s time, rather than go through the lengthy application process again. Don’t forget to retain a copy of all applications, forms, and licences.
Growing Your Business
Growth strategies that will work for your business will depend on the needs and nature of your business, as well as the market your business operates in.
Increase Your Market Share
Capture a large portion of your current market with the products or services you already offer by lowering prices, increasing marketing, expanding distribution channels, or improving your offering.
Enter New Markets
Find new locations to sell your existing products or services if there is little room to grow in the current market due to stiff competition. Some options are to open a new location in a different neighbourhood or start selling online.
Offer New Products or Services
Expand your current offering by improving existing products or developing new ones to help you gain market share in the existing market.
This strategy is a higher-risk yet higher-reward strategy, which involves selling new products in new markets. As such, it requires considerable time, money, and resources to be successful.
Acquire Another Business
An acquisition strategy is another option for growing your business and is less risky than a diversification strategy as the acquired business is already established.
Partner With Another Business
A partnership with another business can help to share distribution, technology, or manufacturing to cut costs.
If you have a successful business that can be easily replicated, then franchising may be a good strategy for growth.
Selling Your Business
The decision to sell your business is a difficult one to make and it is important to know why you are deciding to sell to help you during the sale process.
Bring In Professionals
Assemble an advisory team with an accountant, lawyer, and business advisors who specialize in valuations of business of your kind to maximize the chance of a successful sale.
Set the Right Price
Get a realistic valuation of your business in order to conduct a prompt sale.
Prepare to Sell Your Business
Buyers will expect complete transparency about your profitability, growth potential, and operational efficiency. Be sure to get your financial reporting in order and document all aspects of your business in as much detail as possible. It is also advisable to improve physical aspects of your business before selling as well.
Find the Right Buyer
Try advertising to prospective buyers in your industry in industry-specific publication or to buyers outside your market via print and web media.
Negotiate & Close the Deal
Start by getting a signed letter of intent outlining the price, terms, and conditions of the sale. This letter will act as a starting point for negotiating on a final sale agreement. Utilize your advisors to end on a final sale agreement that is best for you, and be sure to clearly lay out any involvement you’ll have in the business in the future.
Buying Your Business
Buying a business is a big decision and requires a lot of time and research. The following information can help you start the process.
Franchising versus Buying an Independent Business
Consider the option of purchasing a franchise of a business versus purchasing an existing independent business. With a franchise you’ll have less control over the business, however you will have more support and resources.
Access the Business
Before buying a business you should evaluate its condition and potential. Review financial statements for the last 3 to 5 years, talk to existing customers, suppliers, and vendors, review legal contracts, audit inventory and assets, and ensure the business has all regulatory permits and licenses. Consider getting professional legal and accounting advice to properly access the business you are considering buying.
Determine the Value
Seek advice from an expert in business valuation to determine what the business is worth before making an offer.
Business & Investment
Discover insights into what makes Cochrane a unique place to start or grow your business.
Average Hourly Wage
New Private Dwellings (2011-2016)
Explore interactive maps of Cochrane’s current economic landscape to determine business opportunities.
Find resources and organizations in the Cochrane area that can help you reach your business goals.