If you’re an enterprising individual with a great idea for a business, you may have already put the wheels in motion to start your own company. You may have done some preliminary market research into the industry you wish to enter (or create), or maybe you’re just “going with your gut” on what to expect and where to start. Or perhaps you’re a bit further along and have laid the groundwork for your new business venture, but you’ve reached a point where your vision and reality have collided.
Whether you’re trying to manage on your own, or you’ve reached a point where you feel you could benefit from some extra help, there are many resources and programs available – such as the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Futurpreneur Canada – that are designed to help entrepreneurs like you achieve success.
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), often referred to as “the bank of entrepreneurs”, was established more than 75 years ago to “support small and medium-sized businesses in all industries and at every stage of growth with financial assistance and advice.” More succinctly, the BDC offers customized financing and advisory services specifically designed to help Canadian entrepreneurs protect their cash flow and achieve sustainable long-term business growth.
For businesses that have been in operation less than 12 months, the BDC partners with other organizations whose programs are better suited to support entrepreneurs in the start-up phase of operations; one of these specialized partner organizations is Futurpreneur Canada.
Founded in 1996, Futurpreneur Canada is an internationally recognized non-profit organization that “provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18 – 39” to help them reach farther than what they might otherwise be capable of on their own.
If you qualify for financial support through Futurpreneur Canada, you can obtain up to $20,000 through a collateral-free loan over a five-year term, making interest-only payments in the first year (principal plus interest payments are required in years 2 through 5). And if you meet the shared eligibility criteria, you can increase the loan up to $60,000 when matched with BDC financing.
As an added bonus, the Futurpreneur Canada program also includes two years of mentorship to help guide you through the challenges of new business ownership (more on this below).
With several financing programs available – such as Launching Your Side Hustle, the Black Entrepreneur Start Up Program (BESP) or the program supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs – Futurpreneur Canada may be the ideal solution to help you fund your small business start up.
Start Up Financing Through Futurpreneur Canada
Young Canadian entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 39 who qualify for financial support through Futurpreneur Canada can:
- Obtain up to $20,000 in a collateral-free loan over a five-year term.
- Obtain up to $60,000 in a collateral-free loan over a five-year term when matched with BDC financing (applicants must meet shared eligibility requirements).
- Obtain better loan interest rates than most big banks offer.
- Make interest only payments in the first year, with principal and interest payments made in years 2 through 5.
- Receive two years of business mentorship.
One of the unique elements of Futurpreneur Canada that makes it so successful is the mentoring young entrepreneurs receive as part of its financing programs. Each successful program applicant receives two years of industry-leading mentorship that “offers expertise, resources and skill-building opportunities to take you and your business to the next level.”
In fact, the mentorship program has been instrumental in helping young entrepreneurs springboard to success with their new businesses, such as the success story of Catherine Addai who received financial assistance for her fashion-brand start up “Kaela Kay” through the BESP.
Benefits of Futurpreneur Canada Mentorship
The two years of expert business mentoring offered through Futurpreneur Canada can help you:
- Gain insight and perspective by bouncing ideas off another business leader.
- Identify opportunities and potential risks by learning from another business owner’s experience.
- Focus on your business vision and develop strategic steps to achieving your goals.
- Expand your business network and hone your business acumen.
- Gain confidence from knowing you have a personal advocate.
Let's Get Started!
The Moral of the Start Up Story
While starting a new business isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. In the words of P.T. Barnum, “Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.” Put simply, the inspiration for starting a new business must come from you, the entrepreneur, and you need to be brave enough to take the first step towards helping yourself.
But the good news is that once you take that first step, developing your new business doesn’t have to be done alone. There are many programs and resources available to guide you through the process and make it easier for you to achieve success, you just need to reach out and ask for help.
You May Be an Entrepreneur If:
Investopedia defines an entrepreneur as “an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services, and business /or procedures.” (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/entrepreneur.asp)
Put simply, an entrepreneur is an individual who is solely responsible for the creation of a business through their own efforts. So how can you tell if you are, or have the makings to be, an entrepreneur? You may be an entrepreneur if:
- You’re constantly finding opportunities to improve on a product, reimagine a process, or brainstorm business ideas with others,
- You’re excited by the prospect of starting a challenging new project,
- You love seeing data that proves your hypothesis or you witness direct results from your efforts,
- You’re fairly courageous and not afraid to try something new, even if that means you need to make a personal investment in the experience.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably not lacking in ideas for new products or businesses to take advantage of, or an opportunity you’ve only just recently discovered. But having a great idea is not the same thing as setting up the business to support it; the Government of Canada outlines five basic steps to consider when looking to start a new business in Canada. These are:
- Planning: you need to assess your readiness to launch, choose a business structure (sole proprietor, limited liability, incorporated, etc.), conduct market research and write a business plan (more on this in the “Elements of a Business Plan” sidebar).
- Choose a business name: this goes beyond just picking a name you like; you need to search business registries (and Google) to see if the name is taken and if you will have difficulty protecting your proprietary trademark(s) from competitors.
- Register your business: once you’ve selected an available business name, you need to register your new company with the appropriate governing body and apply for applicable business numbers / tax accounts.
- Apply for any required business permits or licenses: depending on your business, you may need to apply for business permits or a business licence at three different levels of government – municipal, provincial, and federal.
- Obtain support and financing: determine how you’re going to facilitate the launch of your new business and explore any business support and financing options that you may qualify for.
In addition to the five steps listed above, starting a new business takes a unique blend of creative energy, self-motivation, endless effort, and a well-explored business strategy. And a well-explored business strategy starts with preparing a full-fledged business plan.
When you take the time to develop a comprehensive business plan, you transform your ideas into a roadmap towards a viable business while addressing any shortfalls that could potentially cause problems down the line. And a well-crafted business plan is essential when seeking financial support for your new business.
Elements of a Business Plan
Developing a comprehensive business plan is a critical first step in transforming a great business idea into a viable business start up. Below is an overview of the elements you should include in your business plan:
- Company Profile: this includes an overview of the product or services you’re offering, your value proposition (the unique benefits your product or services provide to consumers), your management structure and bios of senior executives, your company history (or the inspiration behind the start up), the legal structure of your company, your goals and estimated milestone timelines.
- Market Research: this includes a synopsis of how you expect to impact the market / industry and achieve success, a review of your local market (including reviews of top competitors), a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats), and an overview of your target market.
- Marketing & Sales Plan: this includes an overview of your pricing strategy, your marketing strategy (including plans for owned, earned & paid media channels), your sales strategy, and preliminary sales forecasts based on your market research.
- Operations: this includes an overview of how your business will operate day to day, and listings of all facilities, human resources, sub-contractors, suppliers, and process / production activities. Also to be included are insurance requirements and a detailed risk assessment.
- Financials: this includes an overview of anticipated start up costs, sales forecasts, non-recurring expenses, capital investments, projected income statements and a cash flow analysis for two years (or to the break even point if a larger financial commitment is required).
Writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task, but there are companies available that can help. For more information, check out “How to Write a Business Plan in 2021” or get in touch with a professional business plan writer.
Getting Financial Support
One of the greatest challenges when starting a new business is figuring out how you can pay the bills before sales start rolling in. Fortunately, there are many different financing options available designed to help new businesses get off the ground. According to Forbes magazine, the five most common types of Start Up Financing options are:
- Angel Investing
- Small Business Credit Cards
- Venture Capital
- Small Business Loans
Of these five different funding options, small business loans may be the most tangible and readily available path for new businesses to seamlessly secure the funds required to cover the start up stage. And that’s where the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Futurpreneur Program come into play.
If you would like to explore starting a business in Canada, get help applying to the Futurpreneur Canada program, or just need support putting together your business plan, get in touch with one of our experienced business consultants today!