FIVE Magazine YB - VOL2 - Page 7

out the rough edges of your idea and follow a few basic steps to make your seed grow and blossom. Start by taking a closer look at your idea and asking some tough questions about it. Does it fit your lifestyle? Does it fit with your strengths and skills? Is there a niche in the marketplace for it? If you can honestly answer positively, consider the feasibility of your business idea. The key word to determining the feasibility of your idea is sustainability. If you’ll be providing goods, you’ll need stable, reliable suppliers. If you intend to provide a service, you’ll need a steady stream of clients. Either way, you’ll need to calculate your start-up costs, your operating costs, and how much business you’ll need to do to break even. Determining the long-term feasibility of your idea will require market research. Market research can take a few different forms, but before you get started, set some goals for your research. First and foremost, identify your target customer. They’ll be the most important resource for your business, so you should have a firm grasp of their needs. Determining factors like age and income level will help you tailor your approach to attract and retain business. Likewise, research your prospective competitors: find out who they are, what products or services they provide, any competitive advantages they may have, and who their target customers are. When researching, always start with secondary sources – data provided by outside sources, like Statistics Canada or various trade organizations. This is where you’ll find information about the market and the industry you want to enter, for example. Secondary data tends to cost far less in both time and money compared to primary research, so be as exhaustive as possible. Primary research involves leg work: customer questionnaires, interviews, and surveys. The upside to that hard work is that you can design your survey questions to produce precisely the data you need. When both primary and secondary sources have been sufficiently mined for information, analyze the data. By comparing information about your customers to information about your competitors, you may find opportunities where your customers’ needs are not being met. With those opportunities in mind, and all the questions you’ve already tackled, you’re ready to develop a business plan. Your business plan is a critical document; it’s the guide that you will follow to success and will provide crucial information to potential lenders and investors. Your business plan should include basic information, such as what product you’ll be selling or what service you’ll be providing, what type of industry you’ll be in (retail, manufacturing, high technology, etc.), your advantage over your competition, your main objectives, and what time frame you have in mind to meet your goals. Also, include the business’s vital statistics, like the name of your business, the date it was registered, the business’s address, phone number, Web address, email, and so on. When developing your business plan you’ll need to make some complicated decisions about the structure of your business. There are a few different forms your business can take, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. A sole proprietorship, for example, gives you, the owner, all the control and provides some tax advantages, but also leaves you solely liable, which may also affect your ability to raise capital. On the other hand, a partnership provides a broader management base and a broader asset base, but authority will be VOLUME 1 - ISSUE 2 | yourBusiness Online 7