“I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to get there.”
Hands up if that sounds like you. We can’t see you, but we’re sure there are a lot of you out there who can identify with this statement.
For many millennials, being an entrepreneur is the dream, but getting there can feel like climbing Mt. Everest in flip flops. However, even if you have absolutely zero business knowledge, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you get up-to-speed.
While we highly suggest you do plenty of research before you decide to strike out on your own, our essential entrepreneurial “check-list” should help give you some guidance on where to start looking.
1. Business Model
In pretty simple terms, a business model is how you make money, so it’s pretty self-explanatory why you need to figure this out first. An easy way to plot this out is with a canvas, which is essentially a template that you fill in with various information like your value proposition (aka the service or feature you’re offering that will attract customers), resources (what you need to sustain your business), and customer segments (the type of people you’re targeting with your business).
2. Business Plan
Once you’ve mapped out your business model, the next step is to create your business plan. This is a much longer document that explains, in detail, what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. It will also require you to do a lot of research into the market you plan to enter. What are your competitor’s strengths? Their weaknesses? How much money will you need up front? How will you market your product or service? These are the kinds of questions your business plan will need to answer.
3. Shareholders’ Agreement
Once your start-up has attracted some investors, you need to ensure you have all the proper legal documents in place. Most investors won’t cut the cheque until these are ready, and one of the most crucial documents is the shareholders’ agreement. This will regulate the management of the corporation, procedural matters, dealing with shares (of course), and provisions for the resolution of any future disputes between shareholders. You can think of this document as a kind of prenuptial agreement for your start-up – it helps you protect your own interests so that when your business is successfully launched, you can enjoy the profits of your hard work.
4. Network of Experts
Even if you’re extremely knowledgeable about the market you’re about to enter with your business, there will always be skills gaps that you will need to fill. This is why it’s incredibly important to establish a strong network of complementary experts to help you out. For instance, a lawyer that can help you navigate issues like protecting intellectual property or drafting service agreements, and an accountant can give you advice on getting a loan.
Starting your own business can be pretty scary, but it pays to be prepared. Do the research, make the right connections, and you’ll be sure to start off on the right foot.
For more help on how to launch your first start-up, National Bank has plenty of resources that can be found here. From tips about crowdfunding to incubators, their online toolbox has tons of info that can help you at every stage of your business.