Following up with Small Business BC Business Plan Clients

In my role at Small Business BC, I meet lots of business plan clients who are excited to share their plans for the future of their small business. We work together on their business plans and go off to work hard and make their dreams a reality. It’s hard not to become invested in their grand plans and their enthusiasm for their business.

Once a year, I will try to get out into the community, follow up with these clients and see if my business plan consultation set them in the right direction. It’s great to meet my clients again and they are always happy to share candidly their challenges, the lessons they’ve learned and what they took from their business plan consultation.

Business Plan Clients – Common Threads

Although my clients have typically been in business at least a year and have a retail space, they have plenty of other things in common. No matter what industry they’re in, they are all working hard, have a good idea where they are going, appreciate the importance of knowing their numbers (financials) and recognize what needs improvement.

I find these follow-up visits to be extremely valuable as a Business Plan Advisor. Seeing a client, after they have been in business for some time, allows me to share in their success, hear their plans, and help them to analyze their growth strategies. Today, I want to share some of their stories with you. Maybe it will provide some inspiration for your small business?

Maxwell Webster and Cory Koesdibyo, Hastings Overland

Hastings Overland make it easier to explore our beautiful province by renting jeeps customized with a roof-top tent, camping and cooking gear. They have been in operation for two years and their rapidly growing business now boasts eight vehicles for rent. Their clientele skews international, with plenty of clients from Europe booking vehicles to explore the rugged routes of British Columbia.

How did the Business Plan Help?

Working with this duo on their business plan was extremely interesting for the following reasons:

  • It forced them to review items they had been procrastinating over
  • These issues would have halted them moving forward as a business
  • It delivered clarity in their business concept
  • It gave them a clear path for achieving organic growth

Takeaways for New Entrepreneurs

Working with Maxwell and Cory highlights a number of common issues new businesses face. It’s highly recommended you take the following steps:

  • Find and resolve issues as early as possible
  • Set firm deadlines for items you need to achieve
  • Have your business plan reviewed by an expert
  • Understand the importance of being able to sell to someone who doesn’t know you

To see more from Hastings Overland, check out their beautiful Instagram profile.

Setareh Fayyazian, Blanche Neige Laser

Setareh owns and operates Blanche Neige laser, a skin treatment spa located in Burnaby. She provides a comprehensive list of beauty treatments that run the gamut from laser therapy, organic facials, and diamond microdermabrasion, to chemical peels and so much more. She is a fully licensed medical laser and advanced skin care specialist who is passionate about helping others look their best and feel confident. Her salon has been in operation for 18 months.

How did the Business Plan Help?

While working with Setareh we identified a number of quick wins in her business plan:

  • The need to perform a competitive analysis of rival businesses, what they did and how they priced their products
  • The importance of differentiation and how to stand apart from competitors
  • The vital role of customer service in keeping existing clients
  • Achieving long-term goals by breaking them down into manageable steps
  • The importance of financials and cash flow management

Takeaways for New Entrepreneurs

Setareh experienced some common challenges in her start-up phase. Takeaways for new entrepreneurs include:

  • Be patient. Success isn’t instant and it takes time
  • Advertising to the right audience is key
  • Make clients happy. Get them to like your service, provide amazing customer service and they will come back

Setareh also understood the importance of Groupon as a lead generator for service-based business. Check out her offerings on the Groupon website.

Anna McMillan, The Garden Strathcona

Take a café and general store, mix them in with abundant greenery and you’ve got The Garden Strathcona. Operated by Anna McMillan, this community-focused café has a full commercial kitchen where they prepare their menu of healthy treats each day. Fair trade is a key part of the business, and all coffee they serve is fair trade and organic. Upstairs, the community focus is to the fore thanks to an open space that’s used for workshops, events or classes.

When I visited the space it was full. Lots of locals chatting and catching up. It was so calm, quiet, with lots of light and plants welcoming you to sit, relax and enjoy a great meal.

How did the Business Plan Help?

Sitting down to review Anna’s business plan helped her in several ways:

  • It gave her the confidence to talk to business partners
  • It helped her prepare and present her concept to her landlord
  • It helped her to demonstrate she understood what was coming down the line: six months, a year from now

Takeaways for New Entrepreneurs

Anna’s experiences hold some valuable learning points for new entrepreneurs:

  • Working on her business plan helped her to articulate her concept to people she didn’t know
  • Sitting down and going over financials allowed her to approach potential business partners with confidence

Thinking of checking out The Garden? Make sure to try the mushroom bowl and the vegan chewy salted chocolate chip cookies. They are to die for!

Here to Help

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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