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Tips for starting a successful business

Halifax financial planner Angela Mercier encourages her clients to be clear-headed about their business plans from the start.

“Are they prepared that it’s going to take much longer than they anticipate when launching a business?” she says. “People think they can put a shingle out and people are going to start coming because they hear some great stories.”

With your business idea crystal clear, draft a business plan. Then decide if you need a physical shop, or if you can work from home. Mercier recommends renting a table at a farmers’ market to try your goods out on the public before committing to a storefront.

“If they’re recently coming to Canada, there are some really good [financial] programs for them,” Mercier says. “Especially if they’re women; the Centre for Women in Business have really championed the idea of encouraging women.”

It can take months or years to make enough to provide yourself with an income, so you’ll need a plan to survive in the meantime.

If your partner works, decide if that income can support both of you while you’re starting. If you already have a job, consider holding onto it and starting the business outside of work hours. Decide how long you can afford to live on limited means before you have to throw in the towel on that particular business.

Once you’re up and running, Mercier has some more tips:

  • Know what you’re bad at and hire experts to do that work.
  • Know your break-even point. How many units do you need to sell a month to pay the bills?
  • Keep the business credit card and bank account separate from your personal ones so it’s easier to track cash flow.

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