Introducing SBBC’s Regional Business Advisor – Vancouver Island, John Baxter

Small Business BC is excited to announce our team is growing. We’re expanding our presence on Vancouver Island with a dedicated island-based member of our team serving its rapidly growing community of entrepreneurs.

John Baxter, who has been with SBBC for over two years as a Business Plan Advisor, is moving into a new role as a Regional Business Advisor – Vancouver Island. First and foremost, John’s focus will be on Vancouver Island-based clients, but he will also continue to serve our province-wide community of entrepreneurs.

John brings a wealth of experience to this new role at SBBC, having worked on entrepreneurship programs in Canada and further afield. Prior to joining SBBC, John worked at the Immigrant Services Society of BC, giving him a valuable insight into the experiences of newcomer entrepreneurs.

“I studied Mathematics and Business Administration, later moving on to a Masters in International Development. This led to me working overseas in Indonesia, helping youth find employment and explore entrepreneurship. It changed over time to become more of a business advisor role, providing information about our various grants programs, how to write a business plan, and then going through business plans with our youth clients.

“I came home shortly afterward, working at the Immigrant Services Society of BC helping immigrant and refugee clients to start their own businesses here in BC. It was great being able to take the knowledge I had gained way back in school and in Indonesia and apply it in a Canadian context.

“My role saw me interact a lot with Small Business BC, leaning on the resources we have here, referring clients to webinars and advisory services. Eventually, I found out about the opportunity to come on board at SBBC and it was a natural fit for everyone.

“Getting to continue that work on Vancouver Island, while helping the growing community of entrepreneurs based here, is the logical next step for me.”

How John Can Help Your Business

Throughout his career, John has helped dozens of clients refine their business plans and move to the next phase. It’s work he plans to continue in his new role, alongside some exciting new additions.

“I view my new role as more of a continuation of the work I did as a Business Plan Advisor, but with some additional responsibilities. I’m still going to be handling those one-on-one business planning and strategy sessions with clients, alongside hosting my business plan-focused webinars online.

“In addition to that, I’m super excited that I get to be responsible for outreach and events on the island. I’m hoping my presence here can increase SBBC’s reach on Vancouver Island, and help more people to start and grow successful small businesses.”

John’s Tips for Improving Your Business Plan

As anyone who writes for a living can tell you, the first words you write are often the hardest. The same is true for writing a business plan. Where to start? What section should come first? John’s advice is not to fall into the trap of beginning with your executive summary…

“Typically, people try to start a business plan with the executive summary. That’s the area of the business plan they should leave until last. You need to wait until you’ve written through the entirety of the plan and understand each aspect of it before you can proceed to summarizing it. Otherwise, you’re trying to summarize a detailed document you haven’t written yet. It makes no sense.

“It can be daunting for sure to sit down and write a business plan. I was taught the best place to start are the sections you feel most confident about. Begin in sections you understand well and build momentum that way. If there are areas you’re unsure about, you don’t need to try and muddle through them. Do your research, or reach out to people who have the expertise you lack and ask for advice.

“There’s no business plan you can write in one go without a break. Don’t view it as a document you’ll put together in one sitting through cramming. It’s important to take a breather between sections and give yourself time to digest what you’re writing.

“Get out of the mindset where you think it’s a problem if you don’t have the answers for a section – it’s only a problem if you ignore that section because you don’t know what to write. Instead, view it as an opportunity to do your research and expand your skillset.

“Ultimately, if your business is going to be successful, you need to understand all aspects of it. Sure, you can start your business and ignore those sections, but they are going to come up down the line and broadside you while you’re trying to build and grow. It’s creating needless stress for yourself that’s completely avoidable.”

Business Plan Services Offered by John

Interested in working with John to refine your business plan? Whether you’re at the ideas on a napkin phase, or you’re looking to identify areas for growth, learn about the range of business plan services available at SBBC and start creating your roadmap for business success.