With Small Business Week kicking off on October 15, we asked our Business Solutions Team to share advice on some of the most common questions they get. Here’s what they said.
A business plan serves as a valuable playbook that overlays your business’s vision and goals with key operational information that outlines how you will achieve them.
The pace of change in business and in the economic environment has never been faster. So whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been established for years, having a business plan as a touchstone that you can review and measure against — and adjust over time — will help to stay on track as you grow.
We’ve seen a variety of different types of business plans, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are a wide range of useful business planning tools and templates available online, the key is to create one that works for you so you’ll actually refer to it, and use it. If you’re not sure where to start, the Saskatchewan Government has valuable information and resources, and the simple Business Plan template from Hubspot may provide a good foundation that you can build on.
No matter what format you choose, you can expect that developing your business plan will require research, collaboration with your partners, adaptability as you employ new insights and perseverance in order to nail down all the details. When it comes to questions you may have about financing, talk to an experienced business lender to find out about different options, and which ones might be right for your specific needs.
With continuous fluctuations in inputs and outputs, managing cashflow is often one of the most common challenges we hear about from business owners. You need to know what's coming in, what’s going out, and when each is going to happen. It’s also important to understanding what your break-even point is so you can set a target and be prepared for any unexpected dips, if they occur. Conducting a cash flow analysis will help you identify what you need on a monthly basis to keep your business operating.
There are myriad online software solutions and tools for efficiently handling invoicing, payments, customer relationship management, and the like. Most importantly, finding a system – or systems – that check all of your boxes will help you forecast sales and track cash flow results monthly so you can make any adjustments that are needed to stay in the positive.
As a business owner, one important piece of the cashflow puzzle to consider is how you want to handle paying yourself. Having a separate business account can help you track business income and expenditures, and having an accountant or business advisor can help you in managing all of the moving parts to avoid a cash crunch.
3. Buying or leasing your building
To buy or to lease – that’s ONE of the big questions we get a lot, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. When it comes time to figuring out what kind of space is right for you, here are a few key considerations:
- Location: Will you be transporting goods out to specific routes, do you service a specific market or are you relying on foot-traffic to conduct business every day? These are just some of the factors that may make one location preferential over another. The more you understand about your business and your market, the more you will understand what location is best for you.
- Timing: What is your growth plan for the next three to five years — and beyond that? Depending on your size (both employee count and physically to accommodate equipment, service bays, etc.), you will want to think about when the right time is to make your move, and how your space may need to grow with your business.
- Risk Tolerance: What kind of capital investment is required, and what are the monthly costs associated with the property? What does appreciation look like? What about the tax implications? There are a lot of variables that can fluctuate over time, which may help you determine whether you are more inclined to buy or lease. Doing the research ahead of time will help you make an informed decision about what best suits your personal approach to risk.
In addition to your financial goals, the decision around leasing or owning should align with your short- and long-term strategic goals. Conducting a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) or SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis as part of your business plan may help you crystalize your approach and contribute to making the best decision when it comes to real estate.
Looking for financial advice to help your business thrive? Book an appointment with our Business Solutions Team today.