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10 Steps to a Successful Business Plan

Business entrepreneurs are one of the most powerful forces in Canada’s economy. When it comes to stimulating economic growth and building a brighter future, they lead the way.

They have great ideas and take the risks to innovate, create jobs, generate wealth and invest in communities across the country.

To be a successful business entrepreneur, you need to ensure you’re planning for your future.

In your business and in your personal life, you need a plan to manage your finances. So, how do business entrepreneurs successfully manage both a personal financial plan and a business plan? The answer is very carefully.

A business plan is an integral aspect that often doesn’t get emphasized enough. It’s your road map, telling you where you’re going, what you need and whether or not you’re getting there. If you don’t already have a business plan that dovetails with one for your life, it may be time you got one.

10 Steps to Developing a Successful Business Plan

Here are 10 suggestions for developing good plans – in business and in life – to take you where you wish to go.

  1. Think about the big picture - Whether you’re just starting up or already established, it’s easier to plan the business aspects when you know what the whole picture is supposed to look like. Consider planning two to three years out. Decide where you’d like to be and then determine how you’ll get there.
  2. Start planning – ASAP! - Give yourself sufficient time to think critically about your business plan. This will ensure you’ve thought things through and give you enough time to make corrections, if required.
  3. Set realistic projections - Ensure your plan supports what you want to do and the strategies to get there. Also consider what the market for your products or service may be like a little further down the road.
  4. Pay yourself first - The cardinal rule in any business plan must be to pay yourself first. There are many different instruments for wealth creation and preservation, so everybody can find one that’s right for them.
  5. Be flexible - While a plan is important, things don’t always go the way you want. Be ready to adjust the plan as you go.
  6. Your lender is your friend - Keep them informed as much as possible. While their first priority is the security of their loan, they also want to see you survive and succeed. A good business plan addresses where that money will come from – whether it’s you, the business or some other source entirely.
  7. Take advantage of Canada’s favourable tax rates for business - For example, in Ontario eligible small-business profits under $500,000 is subject to a corporate income tax rate of 15.5%. The Ontario general corporate income tax rate is 26.5% for December 2012 fiscal year ends. Compared to the highest personal tax rate of 49.53% in 2013, it’s a no brainer – smart business planning can positively impact your personal bank account.
  8. Preserve your assets - Preserving money is as important as making it. Consider setting up a holding company to manage money and investments. Seek the advice of your Chartered Accountant before you contact your attorney.
  9. Engage the professionals - Chartered Accountants, lawyers and other business advisors are important to your success. These professionals can provide invaluable guidance and service about structuring your business for tax savings and improved financial performance.
  10. Initial meetings are free - Most professionals will schedule an initial discussion about your business plan at no charge. Let them evaluate your situation and advise how they can help you and your business succeed.


By planning your journey at the beginning, you can better identify where you’re going and what steps you need to take to get where you want to be.

If you wish to engage Rob Hicks with respect to the above business matters or any other income tax matters.