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10 steps to a solid business plan

  • 2 min read

A business plan is a key tool that can set you up for business success. It helps you focus on your goals and provides the answers you need to make your financing and loan process easier. Here are 10 things you should include as well as some resources to get started.

1. One-page executive summary

Briefly explain your business vision. Include: who you are, what your business does, future business plans and how you will be successful. Also, summarize your current financial state and future needs.

Download: Sample business plans and templates

2. Goals and objectives

What’s the purpose of your business? Outline your key strategies and main goals for the next one to three years.

Find: Programs and services to help reach your goals (BDC)

Farmers with a written business plan average a return on assets five times higher than those without.*

3. Company background or history

Summarize your company’s achievements and plans for growth. Describe any company strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and any significant changes that could impact the operation.

Research: Industry, markets and trade (AAFC)

4. Ownership, management and human resources

Describe the ownership structure. Include each owner’s qualifications, history and your management reporting structure. You’ll also need to identify key employees, benefits, labour policy and a succession plan (if applicable).

Use: Agri HR Toolkit (Canadian Agricultural Resource Centre)

5. Financial position and projections

For existing businesses: include financial statements from the past five years and a monthly cash-flow forecast covering at least 12 months.

For start-ups: include projected financial statements for the first three years of operation and a monthly cash-flow forecast covering at least 24 months.

Get: Ag Expert Accounting

6. Products and services

Describe your product or service and what makes it marketable. Is there an aspect that’s not available in the marketplace?

Watch: Three Farmers: 5 lessons to take your product from field to shelf

7. Industry analysis

Identify your industry and describe its overall size, growth stage and patterns.

Read: FCC Economics sector and production reports

8. Target market

Describe the potential size of your market. It helps to include popular market trends and customer profiles.

Compare: Statistics and market information (AAFC)

9. Competition

Identify primary competitors within your target market. List their strengths and weaknesses compared to yours.

Find: Canadian food supplier directories (AAFC)

10. Marketing and sales plan

Describe your marketing plan and distribution channels. Include the steps for attracting and retaining customers (if applicable).

Read: Marketing 101 (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)

*Source: Rob Hannam, Synthesis Agri-network and