Valley First

Small business, big plans

Know where you're going and how to get there

October 16, 2015

Penticton, B.C. — According to a recent Ipsos poll, almost 60 per cent of Canadians have dreamed of starting their own business, but only 36 per cent of those respondents actually take the plunge, leaving the rest of us punching our timecards for someone else.

One of the biggest obstacles to starting a business is financial. While the dream may be free, 44 per cent of survey respondents cited a lack of start-up funds and 38 per cent stated the need for a steady income as the primary factors holding them back. Another barrier to building a business is being able to build a business plan.

“Access to funding is the first thing many would-be business owners look for,” says Ben Robinson, a business banking advisor with Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union. “Familiarity and experience with the business area is something we place a lot of focus on. And, demonstrated industry background is a huge plus, especially if you can show how you are going to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

“Being able to present that to your banker in a concise, but well-researched business plan is a must. The more homework you’ve done prepares any entrepreneur not only for his or her move into business ownership, but also for a financing meeting with the local credit union.”

A business plan should layout start-up and operating costs as well as projected cash flow. However, it isn’t all about demonstrating profitability. If financing is intended to purchase assets for example, the business plan should detail what is being bought, as asset liquidity can affect financing decisions.

Business intelligence and strategy is another key area and including information about the target market and competition adds strength to a plan.

“A short summary or list of bullet points highlighting the keys to success is a great way to reinforce the success attributes of your business,” says Robinson.

Robinson adds that it’s important to acknowledge that a business plan isn’t just a means to obtain financing. Forty per cent of small businesses get launched from personal savings and a lot more get launched with backing from friends and families.

“A solid business plan makes it easier for any potential backers to see that you are organized and have thought things through completely,” say Robinson. “It will also act as a vital aid to keeping you on track as you get busy with the day-to-day operations of your new business.”

About Valley First

Valley First is a premier provider of banking, investment and insurance services for residents and businesses in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with 54 branches and 38 insurance offices throughout the province, Valley First brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. For more information on Valley First, visit

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