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Millennials learn how to build a better business plan

Via Inside Toronto : Having an idea is how businesses get started. But it’s the business plan that keeps them from stagnancy.

A business plan is essentially the blueprint for a startup.

“Having a business plan is incredibly helpful. It provides the structure for your short-term, mid- and long-term goals,” explained Zach Fisch, CEO of DashMD, an app to help patients understand their medications, treatments and manage their healthcare once they leave the hospital.

But there’s no one “gold-standard” format to a business plan, Fisch added.

When he and his two partners, Cory Blumenfeld and Kaye Mao, started developing DashMD, they turned to Durham Region’s own Spark Innovation Centre for help.

The Spark Innovation Centre works with new entrepreneurs to develop their business, offering workshops and one-on-one time with an adviser.

“Gone are the days of 80-page business plans,” said Ashlin Milley, client services associate at the Spark Centre.

“Most entrepreneurs who are just starting out are not at the stage where a formal business plan is needed. Their focus needs to be on clearly explaining who their customer is, what problem or opportunity they are uniquely qualified to address and how are they going to be successful.

“The full plan can wait until they are looking for funding and even then it will be very different than the formal plans that most financial institutions require.”

Fisch also advised that if your company isn’t a solo venture, then you need to make sure all members review and contribute so everyone’s aware of what your business plan is all about.

The worst thing to do is create a business plan, then stick it in a desk and forget about it, said Dr. Kristopher Edwards, Oshawa chiropractor and principal member of Hexyoo Scientific, a three-year-old startup that has created a gel with limitless healthcare applications.

“If you and your partners’ plan is to grow, you need something on paper, a guide,” Edwards said.

“You should be revamping it daily, weekly, monthly, yearly — whatever it takes. If your business plan doesn’t change within five years, you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Draft the plan on the computer, so it can always be updated, the 35-year-old entrepreneur said.

Hexyoo Scientific’s a great example of the fluidity Edwards preaches: They initially meant their gel to be used as a pad that lies over the top of a hospital bed mattress to help reduce the number of bedsores patients get. But that’s only one use of the product, Edwards said.

They are currently crowd-sourcing through Indiegogo their latest product: an infinitely reusable cold/hot compression gel wrap that will help relieve aches and pains from athletic injuries to muscle and joint strain.

“If you’re not attracting new customers, you can only keep the old ones for so long,” Edwards added, quoting a 2016 stat from Small Business Association that states that 80 per cent of small businesses fail within the first five years.

This, Edwards firmly believes, is mainly due to startups not constantly challenging their own status quo and continuing to grow and improve their business plans.

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