Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Many of BizPlanShark clients come from Canada and in the process of starting their own business turn to the BDC - the Business Development Bank of Canada - to apply for a business loan. We have successfully helped scores of entrepreneurs secure BDC funding and would like to offer some helpful tips on how to prepare and submit your BDC business plan and application.
The information in this post will be of equal value to our global audience.
The BDC website offers a solid business plan template designed to guide you as you prepare your application. It works well for the purposes of applying for a BDC loan, however, may fall short in cases where you also pursue financing from another institution, such as a bank, private investor or a credit union.
The BDC template is broken down into 2 sections: the qualitative business plan write-up (MS Word format) and your financial projections (Excel). We will look at each section separately. This post will focus on the business plan write-up.
The business plan write-up
The word template offered by the BDC is pretty extensive without being overwhelming.
It guides you through key elements of strategic, operational, competitive and marketing considerations and does it well. Where it falls short is in helping you determine how to make decisions pertaining to each of these areas. For example, it lacks necessary guidance in helping you decide what your strategic focus should be, how to choose which customer type or group to focus on, what are the market channels best suited for your business and target audience, etc...
In working with our clients, we address all of these questions in a personalized manner, helping you navigate these decisions and arrive at a deliberately focus business model and business plan.
Key elements of the business plan
BDC's expectations are that you will prepare a plan that includes comprehensive details on several important elements of your business model, such as
demographic, competitive, and regulatory environment of your business;
key market overview and competitive positioning;
sales and marketing plan;
staffing and HR plan and policies
action plan and key milestones
Where the BDC template falls short is in helping you decide and deliberate identify key elements of each of these sections. Who are your customers? Which customer group is most profitable? How do you market to them? What costs/investment is needed in order to reach your audience and sell your product/service to them?
If you have a hard time answering these questions - we can help.
Business Model Canvas
One resource that we recommend to many of our business plan clients is the business model canvas. The idea is simple: on a single piece of paper identify the key pillars of your business strategy and determine how they interact together. We have linked the PDF version of our business model canvas.
If you would like to receive an editable version in PowerPoint format simply email us at email@example.com
Completing your plan write-up
Once you have completed your business model canvas and identified key elements of your strategy, then you can begin to intelligently and confidently complete the BDC template. However, some elements - such as competitive and industry research - may still be out of reach. In which case, we will gladly assist you by pulling data from leading industry databases, speaking with your competitors and even engaging prospective customers.
At the point where all this information is available, you can confidently complete the plan write-up.
What the BDC template misses
The template provided by the BDC leads with the qualitative write-up of your business - with the actual plan. We believe this is the wrong approach. First, we recommend developing the business model canvas we discussed above. Second, we ourselves always prepare financial projections.
The reason we start with the financials is because they are a numeric blueprint of your business model. Nothing else matters if you are unable to turn a profit. We develop highly comprehensive financial projections that allow our clients to better understand revenue, cost and expense structure of their business and how optimize these to ensure they make money.
A better way forward
As a result, we recommend the following approach:
Complete your business model canvas to ensure you understand key elements of your business. In the process you will answer questions such as what I am selling, who am I selling it to, what will it take to deliver these goods / services and how much money can I mike in the process.
Develop financial projections based on the business model canvas. Ensure that they realistically assess the ability of your business to make money.
If your financial projections show that you cannot be profitable within 3 years, go back to the drawing board and revise your business model canvas to either realistically increase revenue and profitability, or lower your costs.
Write the qualitative business plan write-up once you have finalized your business model and financial projections.
At BizPlanShark we assist our clients with all aspects of this process. Starting with financial projections, all the way to complete plan development and personalized consulting services. Let us know if we can help you or share with us your thoughts on this blog post - we always welcome your feedback.