Business Planning

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Executive Summary

The executive summary should be completed when you have finished writing out the details of your business plan. This step is important because it allows you to review all of your work and write a summary to place at the beginning of the written plan. The executive summary will give the reader an overall outline of what the business plan contains and will help them to review the plan as a whole.

The executive summary should reflect on the larger, long term goals of the business and develop a comprehensive mission statement which would go above you’re the summary of your plan. So in essence from what you are summarizing in your executive summary there should be a mission statement that you should be able to develop from it. The statement should describe what your company will strive to be, or how your company will work to accomplish what you are stating in your summary.

For Example NADF Mission Statement is “To advance the well-being of Aboriginal people in Northern Ontario through business and economic development”. So this mission statement expresses what NADF wants to do as an organization and they state how they want to do it, i.e through business and economic development. In your statement you would explain the most important aspect of what you want to do with your company and how you are going to do it through your product or service.




In this section of the business plan you will be focusing on explaining to the reader what product or service you are aiming to structure your business around. This may seem like a simple explanation and a very direct statement about your product or service, however there should be some detail in your description.

Much detail should be put towards explaining your product or service. This can include:

  • The stage of development your product or service is in.
  • Think about securing your idea with a patent or trademark.
  • Can your product or service expand, if so lay out some plans on how you plan to do so
  • Describe what it is you are going to do and what it is you are not going to do.
  • Advantages and disadvantages

Having a very detailed understanding of what you plan on providing with your product or service will benefit your company when you start. You will have a vast knowledge on the work you will be doing and it also helps to stick to your plan for the first bit of your start-up without adding to much more to what you do. You want to establish yourself as an entrepreneur that ensures they succeed with their niche before adding to your arsenal of stuff your company does. By this I mean you don’t want to get stuck adding to much stuff to your business model that might take away from the stuff you do exceptionally well. For instance if you have a restaurant you wouldn’t add something to the menu unless you know that item is going to sell and you cook that item better or just as good as your competitor.

If you do decide to grow your business with new products or services you need to be objective of your plans to do so.

  • Is my new addition as good or better as my competitors?
  • Am I able to afford to add this to my current business model?
  • Is my current market big enough to handle this shift?

When thinking about your product or service you must always know your weaknesses and figure out how to correct them.







The market are is made up of three (3) elements:

  • Market Area: Your community, your region (NWO) or even on a global scale.
  • Market Size: The volume of sales and units you sell of your product or service that you can potentially reach. Important note is to figure in the total market and not just people you may be able to sell to.
  • Market Trends: The market trends deal with the history of the market in your area. Journals and industry forecasts will help you find out what experts think will happen in the area.

The most important thing about knowing your market is to base your knowledge on hard numbers and facts, not generalizations and matters of opinion. If you are going to take the opinion of people to determine your market you must make sure that the people are telling you the truth. You need to know that this in fact strong advice and the best way to figure that is to back it up with facts and statistics. You want to cite the sources you use in your business plan and use those findings to strengthen your market research in your business plan.

Your market can also be determined by developing a survey or questionnaire in the town or area you want to run your business in. This type of research is used to find out who your customer is and what to expect from them for sales.

In the survey you should try to:

  • make the questions specific and to the point
  • keep the reader interested, keep the questions brief and easy to understand.
  • start with general questions and then move into specific questions.
  • avoid leading questions such as “you like shopping at store X, don’t you”
  • avoid using compound questions that ask 2 questions instead of one
  • always do a practice run!!

If you ask the right questions that are geared towards specific details that you want to learn from your potential market, the results of the questionnaire will be a great resource to help you determine the market of your product or service as well what you will want to charge for business.

Sometimes it will be inevitable that there will be some people offering the same stuff as you. So in these cases you will want to research on what they charge for similar products or services. You will use this data to determine what your price will be and you want to think about it being both competitive as well as affordable to your business plan. You don’t want to charge too little for competition sake, you will want to express the work you put into your product and use that as a basis to justify the price you are charging.

Also for your market portion you will want to think about location. In most instances the location of your business will not be the make or break aspect of a successful business. However if you are a retailer and you find yourself a great location with a lot of traffic it can definitely help your business. Having said that, you will need to find a balance between the ideal traffic location and cost.

Comprehensive (USA):

How to do Market Research:

Conducting a Market Analysis (article):

Market Opportunities:


Thunder Bay demographics:

Aboriginal Business Directory:

Canada Business – Market Research



S. W. O. T Analysis

The SWOT analysis can help you uncover opportunities that you are well-placed to exploit. By understanding the weaknesses of your business, you can manage and eliminate threats that you might otherwise miss.

When looking at yourself and your competitors using the SWOT framework, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors, so that you can compete successfully in your market.

So with the tool provided below you will list your strengths and weaknesses in the top 2 columns. These areas are specific to your internal capacity of your business. The bottom 2 columns will list the Weaknesses and Threats you will see that may affect your business in the external capacity.


  • What strengths does your organization have?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What unique or low cost resources can you use that others can’t?
  • What do people in your market see as your strengths?


  • What can you improve?
  • What should you avoid?
  • What are people in your market likely to see as a weakness?
  • What factors lose you sales?



  • What opportunities can you spot?
  • What interesting trends are you aware of?

Think about where useful opportunities can come from such as,

  • Changes in technology and markets
  • Changes in government policy related to your sector
  • Changes in social patterns, populations and lifestyle
  • Local events


  • What obstacles do you face?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Are quality standards or specifications for your product or service changing?
  • Is changing technology threatening your product or service?
  • Do you have bad debt or cash flow problems?
  • Could any of your weaknesses threaten your business?




This section will highlight the system in which you produce your product or deliver your service. You will include what types of machinery if any you will be needing to get your work out there. You must have any licenses or patents for your machinery listed in this section. You will give a step by step introduction on how you will produce your products and show how you may be able to make your production a little better which will lead to your business becoming more profitable.

If you are providing a service you will want to describe your activities your service consists of from the first order placed by the customer to when the order is completed.

Any staff that you may be hiring to help you deliver your business will also be documented in this section. You will want to include the specific jobs they will be doing and their resumes in their files. Also if you are going to be the only person working in your company you will want to state why you will be the only one that will be able to get the job done. You can include your resume to show the reader your experience with the business you are creating.


Explaining Operations (article):



GOV of Canada:




The financial section is the part of the business plan that will help yourself and the reader tell the story of how your company will be successful. It will act as a road map to focus on the direction your company is going and how you are going to do it on the financial side of things. If you are projecting that your company will be profitable it will show in this section.

The best way to show all of this information clearly and with great detail, is to develop an estimated cash flow. The cash flow will display all the inner workings about how your business will succeed financially. It is recommended that you show your income on three levels, the top, middle and bottom. The top will represent the gross margin your company will make. To find this you will state your sales minus your fixed costs (cost of goods which would be the supplies you use to make or deliver your product/service) and variable costs (rent and utilities), this will give you your gross margin. The middle column will represent the cost of your operating expenses. You take your gross margin and minus the cost of the operating expenses, which will then leave you with your bottom column, which represents your profit for the month.

You will provide this cash flow for every month of the 5 years that you project on your business plan that you submit. You can use the market research that you accrued in the previous section to help with the sales projections for your financial plan. You need to remember for the months that you estimate there will be more sales you will need to adjust the amount of goods you purchase to make your product or perform your service.

 You need to get a really good feel for what you will need to provide your product/service, this will enable you to know what to purchase when you need it and keep you from purchasing too much of your materials. For a business that would be selling perishable items having this knowledge will greatly strengthen your business model because you will not run into situations where you will be throwing stuff away, the same can go for non-perishable items. You don’t want to buy stuff that you will never be able to sell just for the simple reason of having a lot of stock.

Government of Canada:

Futurepreneur (info & templates):





Implementation – Start Up Plan

This section of the business plan will show the timeline of dates, costs and goals the business expects in the next 12 months. Review your organizational section to help show your plan of action for starting your business.

The research that you have done should help you out in this section because you will know what you project to be coming into the business (sales) and what will be coming out of the business (fixed and variable costs). So now in this section you will use this information to figure out how much work your company will have to do remain a viable business. You need to look at the numbers and figure out what your break-even point for your business will be and use this determination for figure out a schedule that your business can survive on.

You will need to think of all the risks that may happen and think about a plan that will help you get around these risks. These risk can vary from production risks which may deal with your equipment and your place that you are running your business in. If say a gas lines breaks or a water main freezes you will need to think about these types of situations and keep them in mind to help prevent these types of things from happening.

Key Components:



Additional Resources NADF - Aboriginal financial services, CFDC Thunder Bay CEDC – Summer Company, Starter Company Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre PIE – Partners in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Thunder Bay Ventures – Community Futures Development Corp. PARO – Centre for women’s enterprise Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce

Banks – Business Loans YES employment services LU small business counselling  Headstart in Business Make Your Pitch – High School Government funding programs NOHFC

Ontario Trillium Foundation Skills Ontario Social Enterprise Ontario Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada – Band Funding, Tribal Council Funding, Etc.  Government of Canada –– Canada small business financing program  Canada Small Business Network - Industry Canada - BDC Financing - Futurpreneur Canada - - FedNor  BRO – Business Registration Online - Statistics Canada 


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