When you want to start a business, it is important to be familiar with the steps involved. You don't need to have had a university degree in business administration or an enormous bank account to be successful. All you need is a good idea, a good plan, and the motivation to achieve your goals.
Validating your idea
To get your business off to a good start, it's important to make sure your business idea is basically sound. Here are some essential questions to ask yourself about your idea:
- Does this idea meet a need?
- Who will buy this product or service?
- What is the target market?
- Who are the direct and indirect competitors?
- What do you need in terms of technical, material and human resources?
It is also necessary to test your idea with people you trust. Remaining open to both positive and negative comments allows you to improve and refine your business project.
Meet with potential buyers to find out what they think of your product; after all, as buyers, they are the ones who can tell you what problems you may have missed. Making contact with your potential buyers is critical to the success of your business.
Writing your business plan
The business plan is a crucial tool for starting a business. Its purpose is to structure the business project. This document will become a key tool you will use to explain the details of your business to all partners, to prove the viability of the project and convince prospective investors. A business plan of about 20 pages should be enough to cover all aspects of your project.
Your business plan should contain:
- A nice title page with the name of your business
- An executive summary that summarizes the entire document, headings and tables
- A description of the company, the problems the company solves, the solution and reason for timing (why now)
- Your marketing strategies, including your target market and how you plan to attract customers
- Competitive analyses that show how you stand out from your competitors, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how you plan to outperform them
- A plan of operations to describe how you will manage your business and how it will evolve in the short, medium and long terms.
To help you write your business plan, take a look at our PME MTL business plan and financial tools page.
Putting the financing together
All right, your business plan's ready. It's time to get your financing in order. Determine what your financing needs are by determining the expenses needed for the proper operation of the business. Once you've identified these expenses, you need to determine what sources of financing can meet them. The financial package will therefore include both the expenses and the means of financing.
There are several options available to you to finance the start-up of a business:
- Use your personal funds, including the equipment you already own and the help (financial or material) that your entourage can provide
- Meet with our financing experts to take advantage of the loans and subsidies available at PME MTL
- Apply for a business loan at your financial institution
- Start an online fundraising or crowdfunding campaign
- Look for one or more angel investors (angel investors) or venture capitalists
- Find business partners
Surround yourself with the right people
Since no one is an expert on everything, you will need to surround yourself with professionals who can contribute to the company’s success.
Whether you offer a product or a service, make sure that the people who will be part of your business will make a positive contribution. To make sure you have the best chance for success, choose your partners and employees carefully and communicate your expectations clearly.
PME MTL is at the heart of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and can give you access to a multitude of organizations when it counts. To get started, discover our support services for launching a business.
In addition to PME MTL, here is a list of partners who can help you start your business:
- École des entrepreneurs du Québec (in French)
- Business Development Bank of Canada
- Microcredit Montreal
- Réseau M
- Fondation Montréal inc.
- YES Montreal
- Centre de transfert des entreprises du Québec (in French)
Networking events are another good way to meet potential partners and to surround yourself with good people. Once you have established a network, it is important to maintain it and use it throughout the development of your business project.
Making it official
Now that you have validated your idea, written a business plan and established a base of potential customers, what do you need to do next? Take care of all the legal aspects. You need to do this to avoid having someone steal your patent or sue you for some reason you didn’t think to cover.
Here's a handy checklist for how to start a business, legally speaking:
- Choose a legal structure
- Determine the name of your company
- Register your business with the enterprise registrar
- Obtain the necessary permits (if required) and find out about all the regulations you need to comply with
- Open your company bank account
- Register the trademark, copyright or patent
Whatever the status of your project, PME MTL offers support adapted to start-ups. Contact the experts in your area in order to get help to make your business project a success.
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