Indigenous business development toolkit
If you’re an Indigenous person thinking about starting or expanding a business, this toolkit has been developed with you in mind. Whether you live on-reserve, in a small town, or in a large city, this toolkit provides business development supports, tools and information to help you start and operate a successful business.
The information in this publication is provided for general educational and informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as business, legal or other advice. Although we endeavour to ensure that the information is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Readers should where possible verify the information before acting on it.
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Is this toolkit for you?
If you're an Indigenous person thinking about starting or expanding a business, this toolkit has been developed with you in mind. Whether you live on-reserve, in a small town, or in a large city, this toolkit provides business development support, tools and information to help you start and operate a successful business.
How to use the toolkit
This toolkit is designed to help you explore the many things you need to think about, research and undertake when starting a business. In each chapter, you'll find helpful information, checklists and questions for you to consider. If you're thinking about starting a business, begin with Chapter One. If you already own a business, you could refer to the table of contents and determine which chapter focuses on your particular area of interest.
As you read through the toolkit, you'll see suggestions of what to think about and write down so that you can refer to them later. It can be helpful to organize your thoughts and ideas in a notebook or a file folder.
The toolkit includes the following chapters:
Chapter One: Is business ownership right for you?
This chapter helps you decide whether owning a business is right for you. There’s information about what’s involved in owning a business, as well as a list of characteristics successful business owners often share. You'll start to think about the potential importance of your planned business for you, your family and your community.
Chapter Two: Is there a business opportunity?
This chapter is designed to help you think through your business idea so you can assess whether it may be successful. You’ll begin to conduct research about the product or service that you plan to sell, the characteristics of the business sector/industry that you’ll be operating in, your potential customers and competitors, and whether there’s a market for what you want to sell. You’ll also conduct some preliminary calculations about your business’ ability to cover its costs and make a profit.
Chapter Three: Planning your business
This chapter guides you through the development of a business plan for your new business. You’ll begin to look at ownership structure, location, operations, marketing and financing for your business. By the end of the chapter, you’ll have completed a business plan and will have enough information about your business to complete funding applications.
Chapter Four: Getting from a plan to a business
This chapter will guide you through the process of turning your business plan into a reality. It will cover the steps required to prepare your business for opening. This chapter will also help you manage the operation of your business, day-to-day, month-to-month and year-to-year.
Chapter Five: Transitions
This chapter focuses on business transitions and will help guide you through the processes of business expansion, succession planning and responding to changes in the business environment.
Glossary of terms and appendix
At the end of this toolkit, you’ll find a glossary of terms that offers short definitions of business-specific terms used throughout the toolkit. In the Appendix, you’ll find links to other resources that provide more detailed information on various business topics.
Helpful tips for doing research
Many of the steps included in this toolkit require you to find information. Here are some helpful tips on how to do your research:
Your best source of information may be the people around you. Talk to other business owners to find out how they started, what challenges they faced and how they market their products or services. You can also ask for any advice they can give you on starting your new business.
Visit the nearest Economic Development Office or Business Centre and ask questions. Visit the nearest Aboriginal Financial Institution or bank and talk to a representative about how you can finance your business. There are many other professionals (lawyers, accountants, consultants) who you should speak to once you’ve decided to put together your business plan.
The Internet is a useful tool and can help you to locate information on a wide range of subjects.If you don’t have a computer or Internet service, your local library or community centre may have computers for public use, as well as research experts who can help you get started.
Books, magazines and newspapers
There are many business journals, magazines and books that provide helpful information for new or experienced business owners. You can do an online search for those resources that would be most relevant for your business. Your local library may also have many of these resources available.
Newspapers can also be useful sources of information. Look at the business sections of the daily newspapers and the specialty papers in your sector or area of business. Community newspapers will give you an idea of the types of services that people offer or that are needed in your community.
What to do with the information?
It’s always a good idea to sort the information collected from your research into specific topics – different folders for finance, marketing and business planning, for example. Feel free to refer to it when you talk with professionals. The amount of information available can be overwhelming, so keep only the information that’s useful for your business needs.
One more thing
It’s important to know that no one does it alone. Business ownership doesn't need to revolve around a single person. Business ownership can include a family, a community and many different types of partnerships. As you read through this toolkit, think about the people you can talk to about your business and who might work with you to own and operate it. You can reduce your risks and improve your chances of success by using the skills, knowledge and commitment of the people around you.
Business ownership can be very rewarding, but it does carry some risks. Taking the time to properly plan your business will help to reduce those risks. This toolkit is intended to help you start planning a business and to provide you with the information and resources that can help lead you to a successful business.