(NC)—You’ve just come up with the perfect product and think you have a business idea that could be the next big thing. So what do you do now? Take your idea from the drawing board to the board room with these steps:

• Write a business plan
It might seem like a huge endeavour but it will pay off. Done properly, a business plan forms the roadmap for your entire business.
• Know your competitors
Some competitors are immediately obvious, others might come as surprise. In the age of Google, a quick, but creative internet search can give you a fair understanding of the lay of the land.
• Figure out financing and budgets
A comprehensive business plan will force you to think about your cash flow and the biggest question – where will you get the initial capital? To supplement any personal savings, look to small business-specific lenders for financing – such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (cybf.ca). Small business grants may also available from provincial governments.
• Find yourself a mentor (or two)
One of the biggest contributors to a business’ success is the support system in place. Small business ownership can be a lonely road, so make sure to surround yourself with mentors who are knowledgeable, available and willing to give advice.
• Develop your elevator pitch
Make sure that you can describe your product and business accurately, effectively and quickly. Until you are ready to hire a full team, you will need to wear all hats in the business, not the least being sales.