(ANNews) – Starting a business can be extremely exciting but at times it can also be a frustrating journey. Your business idea may seem like a good one, but is it a product or service that customers will purchase? The Indigenous Business Strategists at Business Link can help make your entrepreneurial journey as pain-free as possible.
Business Link is a government-funded non-profit that has been helping Alberta small businesses start and thrive since 1996. We provide one-on-one coaching and advice, market research, access to experts, training, and education. Our Indigenous Entrepreneur Services team provides specialized support to Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit clients in Alberta. We offer business advisory services including one-on-one advice, long-term business coaching and referrals, and information on business resources in Alberta.
So you think you have a great business idea. Now what? With any new idea, a good place to start would be to do some research to ensure that your business idea is likely to succeed. Taking this first step can help you decide whether you have a viable business or if you need to modify your business idea (or come up with another idea altogether). Learn more about how market research can help you move your business idea forward in this helpful blog post: The Why and How of Market Research.
When clients reach out to us and are not sure where to start, we encourage them to use the Startup Guide, a useful guide offering guidance, resources, and checklists for starting a business. Working through this guide will ensure you have the skills and knowledge to pursue your business idea. Other questions the guide will help you with:
- Does your business solve a problem?
- Who might be your ideal customer?
- What sets you apart from your competitor?
- Will my business be online? Offline? Or both?
- Who will be a part of my management team and will I hire employees or contractors?
- How will I fund my business? Will I need to start the business as a part-time venture, or can I dive right in full-time?
As a next step, you can use the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition tools to brainstorm and evaluate your idea by filling in the answers in the appropriate areas. These tools are helpful in ensuring you have a good understanding of the basic structure of your business and the problems you intend to solve.
Another great visualization tool is the Lean Plan template from Bplans.com. This tool is similar to the Business Model Canvas and can help you map out the basic structure of your business. Our clients often work with these tools until they have a good understanding of their business model.
Understanding who your customer is and what they are looking for is another critical step. You need to ensure you are solving a problem for your potential customers. Once you’ve confirmed that your business idea is a viable one, it’s a good idea to further research your business idea. You can now start to collect all this information and use it to build your business plan! Business Link has a free, online Interactive Business Plan Builder that can help you put together your business plan section by section, with helpful tips and examples along the way.
You’ll also need to do some additional research to understand the industry your business is in, what the competitive landscape looks like, what your marketing strategy will look like, and your potential sales revenue in order to complete your business plan.
As you move ahead with your business idea, you’ll need to decide what type of business structure you’ll register as: sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation? Depending on the business type, you’ll also need to identify any special licensing, permits and regulations that may be required. If you’re planning to start an on-reserve business, you may have to determine if there are other legal requirements you may have to meet, such as a Band Council Resolution (BCR). You can check with your Band or Economic Development office on this.
There is much work to be done when making the decision to start a business and Business Link can help. We provide training programs to help entrepreneurs prepare and write their business plans, like the Indigenous Business Planning Series, a free six-session program. We also support individuals preparing to start an independent contractor business. Both of these programs have free planning workbooks that coincide with the training. You can find out when we’re hosting these next on our website.
Another way to showcase your business is through the Indigenous Made campaign, which promotes and highlights Indigenous businesses in Alberta. Entrepreneurs can download and display their Indigenous Made decal to help bring awareness to their products and services, show support for other companies, and build a unique business community.
We also work with other organizations to build customized workshops and training programs. Our Indigenous Services team collaborates with our partners to ensure we are creating an environment that is inclusive for all of our clients.
Business Link recognizes the importance of the Indigenous community to the Alberta economy by having the land acknowledgement on our website, as well as ensuring it is a part of all events and meetings in our organization. In addition, by having a specialized Indigenous Services team we can meet the unique needs of our Indigenous clients and extend our resources by working with partners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This way, we can be a one-stop destination to provide the most up-to-date and beneficial information to our clients. Our priority is helping entrepreneurs start, run and thrive.