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The Business Gateway

The Business Gateway    Self Employment

Building a solid business plan or researching a business idea can be both challenging and rewarding. There is, of course, the development of the entrepreneurial idea that may come in a flash of insight or after long consideration. Whether the starting point was an invention, the strong desire to be your own boss, or anything in between, there is little argument that you need to do your homework before committing your time, energy and money to the venture.

Over the years, BC Stats has been approached by many hundreds of clients engaged in researching a business plan. In some cases we have developed standard information products that can be plucked off the shelves. In others, our depth of knowledge of the data sources can shorten your search. Sometimes we will tell you to stop looking for data that does not exist in the public domain. Generally we will be of some help.

As often as not, your inspiration and need for figures will come outside of our regular business hours. With the growing array of tools and pages on our web site, this is not necessarily a problem. While many of the pages have long existed, we recently developed a tool we call the business gateway to better help you self-serve. The business gateway is a web page that presents links to dozens of useful pages and sites, all organized under headings intended to speed up your search for business planning information and resources. When looking at this page you will soon realize that we have designed it from your viewpoint – as you step through the headings, subtext and links, it should read a little like your own thoughts, for example:

My Business

The place to start your research is with the classification systems that we use to delineate industries, occupations, goods (products), services, and geographic units. If there isn’t a code for it, there is little chance for data in the public domain. First off, find the most appropriate industry code under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Do this using the search routine on Statistics Canada’s site by clicking on our first link: What industry am I in? Note both the code and the name. Once you have these, the search for data becomes greatly simplified.

Numbers of business establishments by industry and region provide some indication of saturation. Summary figures are posted at our link: How many similar firms are there?

The most current review of profitability, balance sheet and financial ratios comes from the small business profiles that can be found, by detailed industry for several years and provinces, through our link:  Compare to industry norms.

Writing a Business Plan

The single most important element for success is a proper, current plan that is the basis for operations. The random pursuit of opportunity relies on luck, which sooner or later fails.

Our business planning guide has a numbers focus—coding schemes, data and information resources. There are links to other informative sites including ones that simplify start-up and filing requirements – the technical and legal side of getting into and staying in business.

Business Environment

While mindful execution of the plan is central to success, it is essential to be constantly on watch for external shocks. These may be positive or negative and the difference may depend upon your reaction. Some are temporary, while others more permanently alter business conditions. Some arise dramatically and others form so incrementally that they are sometimes missed from the plan.

We have a number of reports and publications to help keep you abreast of conditions in British Columbia and its regions. Our weekly synopsis, Infoline, is the most widely read document we produce and can form part of any basic news kit for business leaders.

My Customers Are . . .

Successful businesses understand and anticipate their customers. They pitch for maximum penetration in each market segment and analyze the demographics of current and potential customer groups. If sales are not keeping pace with growth in the market place, then you are losing ground – whether to changing market demand or more nimble competition – and need to address the problem.

The Consumer Trends Report and Spending patterns look at consumer behaviour.

Demographic details for neighborhoods, communities and regions takes you to our census pages. Our small area population projections will tell you what areas are growing the fastest so that you can get out in front of the growth curve or anticipate a flat or falling market.

If your receipts are augmented by visitors then there is some useful information on our tourism page. Knowing annual and seasonal expenditure patterns can help you manage the tourism-related part of your business.

We can help you sell to BC manufacturers or look for foreign buyers. There is also a section on doing business with the BC government, local governments in BC or the federal government.

My Products Are . . .

Knowing the correct product classification for your goods will greatly ease the search for production, export and import figures.

My Suppliers Are . . .

We can help you find local suppliers which should help pare transportation and inventory costs. Our on-line directory makes it easy to narrow your search right down to your own community.

My Business Thrives on . . .

When you know just what invigorates your business it may possible to sleuth out hot spots that should figure into your expansion plans. We have set out a dozen links by way of example. If you want more, or something else, there is the internet or you could contact Data Services at BC Stats.

Open a New Location!

The risk of opening a new location can be reduced by making informed choices.

You might look first at what areas are growing fastest. Each year, BC Stats projects population and households for areas in British Columbia. Shouldn’t you be using the same quality data that the health and education ministries rely on?

Perhaps you are looking for concentrations of particular demographic characteristics in your new location. We can map data for you to pinpoint areas that deserve a more rigorous examination of demographic details and Data Services can provide detailed profiles of any area in the province.

My Workers

Our labour and income page highlights earnings and labour market information available through BC Stats.

Didn’t find it here?

If your requirements go beyond our web site or complimentary service, we service requests for a fee. You can also search our wider web site. When you want to talk to us, or email us you have direct access to our individual phone numbers and email addresses for every person in the organization.

However, initial contact should be made with Data Services:  (250) 387-0327 or bc.stats@gov.bc.ca

BC Stats