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McMillan

Question For Business Owners.

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What did you do to prepare yourself for starting your own business? What factors did you not consider that came to be major hurdles? Where did the start up cash come from?

I'm curious because I want to own my own business. Probably not for 5 years however I don't want to leave the business side of preparations aside to find out I'll need to spend another 2 years from when I want to open to prepare myself for just that. I've always figured taking some book keeping courses would be largely beneficial however beyond that to be honest I'm a bit lost. The business in question will be a bakery/cafe with my (then) wife. One of the biggest hurdles I see if the cash. Being as I work as a cook and my fiance a baker we're not exactly high rollers so finding the cash to start up I see as an issue. What did you do when you decided to start up?

Any advise would be appreciated.

Cheers.

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i operate a family busines {flower farm] , but with any busines the most important equation of all is how much you earn in relation to how much you have to spend to earn that amount .

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I almost started my own lawn care business when I returned home from Afghanistan as a side business then eventually turn it into my full time career.

I think for any new business networking and building a clientele is huge. You need to give people the answer to the question "Well, why would I go to your bakery/cafe instead of ______"

Having a bake sale/sampler table out in the general public and getting your names out so people could not only test the product but also get a feel for the owners/operators. I know personally, I would love a ma and pa type bakery or cafe to go to on a lunch break or to get a loaf of bread if I felt a personal connection with the owners and knew they had good product.

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If you own your home you could get financing secured against it.

Do you plan on buying an existing business or opening your own?

Location is always important. If you plan on buying an existing business make sure you have an accountant go over their books before you purchase.

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Prepare a business plan. You can take night or corrospondence courses to learn more about putting on together or you could teach yourself by researching online. For your type of business I think it would be invaluable. Location has been suggested and I'd agree having run a small store front in the wrong location thinking all I had to do was work extra hard at promoting it. I learned that few people are willing to go off the beaten track no matter the incentive. You will be up against the big names in the business so you will have to distinquish yourself in a niche market. A business plan is your road map that you use to set your course and chart your progress by. It's essential in securing funding.It spells out in detail how you will plan to succeed.

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Lots of things to consider... first, would you be looking at an existing business or starting a new one up ? ( as Shift already asked)

Buying an existing one may be a better option because it can show a history of sales/lease etc which gives the banks a bit more ease of lending money. Most of the major banks have the Canadian Small Business loan where you can borrow up to 90% of the equipment value.

Another way to try and approach it is to find one that you or your wife can work at now with the option of buying it in the future years to come. There may be an owner who wants to retire in a few years and may also be willing to do some of the financing personally.

I bought a Panago Pizza by using a bit of both... I had some bank financing for the equipment and worked at my future store with the agreement that I would be allowed to eventually buy it with him loaning a portion of the debt. It was a win-win for both of us because he had someone running his store with the utmost care and concern ( knowing it was gonna be mine) and then when he sold it to me, not only did he get a big chunk of the sale upfront, but he also recieved monthly payments which was beneficial for him both tax wise and personal .

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First of all, +1 to a business plan. I own my own construction business and when I went out on my own, I rushed the process because I was so unhappy working for the company I was with at the time. Although I had 7 previous years of experience in the industry, there are always things you forget to account for that are required to get going. Allowing yourself lots of time to check, double check and triple check what equipment, financing, etc. you require to get going is a huge part.

Second of all, don't expect a 9 to 5 work day with better pay. This underestimation is one of the biggest mistakes I've seen other startups make. I currently pay myself about 15% more than I was making essentially running the company I previously worked for, but I also work way longer hours. Payroll, paperwork, etc. all add up and before you know it, your work week goes from 5 days and 40 hours, to 7 days and 60 hours. Its a lot of work, especially in the first few years until you're on your feet, so be prepared.

Third, don't stray too far from your industry/market. You always want to provide as many services as you can but not at the risk of lowering quality of work. Fortunately, in this part of the world, you can still make money on quality instead of quantity. I have seen quite a few friends in construction try and branch out too much from what they're good at doing and it ends up hurting business because you don't get the return calls and repeat business that you need to keep your company in good shape.

Hopefully that gives you a little to go on. Good luck - its a lot of fun to be your own boss when things are going well!

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I began my web design company a few years ago and because of the type of business it is, I see a lot of other people that have fairly new businesses when they realize that if their business doesn't have a website, their competition that does is who gets found by customers.

I cannot stress enough, how important advertising and public awareness of your business is. You can have the best product or service, but if nobody knows, you're going to fail. It still amazes me how stupid some people are, simply expecting people to show up at their door ready to give them business. It's simple, the more people are aware of your business, the more business you have a chance of getting. Whether it means posting signs or ads in papers or websites like craigslist, the goal is to get people to know you exist. These days having a website is the same as having a yellow pages ad was 25 years ago. Everyone searches online for everything, and if your company doesn't have a web presence it looks like there is something wrong with you.

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I began my web design company a few years ago and because of the type of business it is, I see a lot of other people that have fairly new businesses when they realize that if their business doesn't have a website, their competition that does is who gets found by customers.

I cannot stress enough, how important advertising and public awareness of your business is. You can have the best product or service, but if nobody knows, you're going to fail. It still amazes me how stupid some people are, simply expecting people to show up at their door ready to give them business. It's simple, the more people are aware of your business, the more business you have a chance of getting. Whether it means posting signs or ads in papers or websites like craigslist, the goal is to get people to know you exist. These days having a website is the same as having a yellow pages ad was 25 years ago. Everyone searches online for everything, and if your company doesn't have a web presence it looks like there is something wrong with you.

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Thanks for the replies everyone. As far as starting a new or purchasing an existing it'll have to be a new business. I guess maybe the next route I should work on is start forging a business plan. Sure it's very early but I doubt it is something that can be done too early. I'll also have to do some researching in the money I should expect to need to open and how to get the loans necessary.

As for advertising I'd have to agree. I know for myself personally I like to read what I can about restaurants and their chefs largely because I want to know what they have done prior to consider working for them. Anyone can cook but only a few can create a dish and think on the level needed to create a successful business.

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About a decade ago I was researching for a business. I used a resource from Business Development Bank of Canada and they had a good template/questionairre for building a business plan.

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When I was taking some business classes at college back in the day, our prof said that as a rule of thumb any new business should be prepared to not turn a profit for at least two years.

Now, I am sure there are plenty of businesses that take off from day one, but there are likely even more that take time to build up their clientele. When you build your business plan, make sure you have room in the plan for things to not go quite as you plan.

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When I was taking some business classes at college back in the day, our prof said that as a rule of thumb any new business should be prepared to not turn a profit for at least two years.

Now, I am sure there are plenty of businesses that take off from day one, but there are likely even more that take time to build up their clientele. When you build your business plan, make sure you have room in the plan for things to not go quite as you plan.

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When I was taking some business classes at college back in the day, our prof said that as a rule of thumb any new business should be prepared to not turn a profit for at least two years.

Now, I am sure there are plenty of businesses that take off from day one, but there are likely even more that take time to build up their clientele. When you build your business plan, make sure you have room in the plan for things to not go quite as you plan.

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I'm not 100% sure as I don't own a business but I think you still get paid ie. you pay yourself a salary like 20-30k a year which is part of your expense, just don't expect to be making any additional profit until after a couple years.

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You can pay into EI as a business owner, but you're paying the whole percentage into it yourself, and will only use it if your business fails really.

Businesses taking a loss in the first few years can be different though, depending on industry. If your industry needs to build up lots of repeat customers that repeatedly do small business, yea, it takes longer. But if your industry deals with more of the bigger deals, which aren't repeats as often, you can jump right into having good business as long as you make customers aware you exist...

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