When it comes to funding and advice for starting and growing a decorating or design business, many of our members encounter some real challenges like getting start-up capital, expansion funds, or help with a special project. What many of our members don't know is as Canadian business owners, we have access to a suite of small business services offered through Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

BDC has been in operation for nearly 75 years and is the only bank in Canada solely devoted to entrepreneurs. For some of our members, BDC's tailored advice and funding have been incredibly valuable, so we thought it would be helpful to give you a better idea of what they've got on offer.

Advisory and Coaching Services

One of the main challenges of running a small business is the sheer volume of decision-making that falls to you. BDC has a network of consultants across the country trained to help you make the best, most informed choices.

Strategic Planning
It’s hard to reach your goals if you don’t know what they are. It can be very helpful to work with an outsider to define your goals. If you don't have anyone in your network you can call on, the BDC might be a great solution for you. You can schedule a consultation with a BDC strategic planner to learn the fundamentals of strategic planning, clarify your goals, and make a roadmap to attain them.

Financial Planning and Management
If you’re like many creative professionals, tracking, reporting, and planning around money is, at best, deadly boring, and at worst, completely impossible. Understanding your financial picture and building a strategy for your company is an essential part of running a business. The BDC has advisors specifically focused on helping entrepreneurs with their finances.

Sales and Marketing
At face value, sales and marketing seem like parts of the business that will be straightforward, and yet they are anything but. If you have yet to master your sales process or marketing tactics, you might want to work with a BDC marketing expert to ensure you are spending your time and money on the right things. 

Funding Opportunities

Whether you’re just starting your business or looking to grow it, cash flow can be a significant challenge. It's always helpful to speak with other members about how they manage cash flow and financing. You may have already found out that accessing a bank loan can be near-to-impossible in the early days, which is one of the reasons why the BDC is such an important outlet for us. You can look to BDC for a wide variety of financing options, including:

Start-up Financing
Most small businesses take months or even years in operation before achieving profitability but most of us don’t have several years’ worth of operating costs at hand. BDC offers financing with flexible repayment options that will help you fund:

  • marketing 
  • consulting fees
  • purchase a business
  • provide working capital

If you’re looking to get your design business up and running, this could be a great option.

Small Business Loan
If your business has generated revenue for at least 24 months and has a good credit history, you can apply to BDC for a loan of up to $100,000. This funding can be used to:

  • create a showroom space in your office
  • attend industry events (hello, Salone del Mobile!)
  • protect your intellectual property in the form of a patent or trademark

If you’re out of the start-up phase but still need financial help to meet your business goals, you might be eligible for a small business loan.

Xpansion Loan
For decorators, liquid assets can be tight—even when things are going well. Say your business has grown to the point that you’re ready to expand your markets, bring on additional staff, or develop a new offering. All these things require cash flow, which is where a Xpansion Loan comes in. And the best thing? You can re-advance any repaid portion of this loan to your company, which will create additional development funds.

Commercial Real Estate Financing
Perhaps your company has grown so strong that you need a larger space for your staff and clients. This kind of loan will cover you for real estate purchases, or construction, expansion, or renovation, without affecting your cash flow. Phew!

Just because you’re a small business owner doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own. Ask around your chapter to see who has utilized BDC services. There is at least a one member we know of who has taken advantage of BDC financing (twice, actually) in the past year; in fact, it was their suggestion to write this blog.