Diane Peloquin found out recently that she had secured the property she was hoping for: a much sought-after piece of commercial real estate in Surrey, British Columbia. She intends to turn it into Cafe Pelorina, a high-end cafe featuring not just coffee, but art, books, and a community involvement component.

When she first began exploring locations for her cafe, she says, “I was told by my commercial realtor that the developers would not even look at an offer unless I had a business plan. Being of the strong mind that you don’t re-invent the wheel, I went on the Internet to search programs that offered business plans.”

Peloquin needed to get the business plan together quickly, as there were several other businesses interested in the property she had her eye on. She had never written a business plan before. “Instead of taking time, which I didn’t have, trying to figure out what a business plan is even supposed to look like, I Googled business plan software.” And that’s when she found Business Plan Pro, and discovered how helpful it was.

She says the planning process provided a lot of insight into her business. “As I was going through I realized how much detailed information I really had to get to be better prepared. I also realized that it was going to actually cost twice as much as I had thought!”

Her cafe hasn’t even opened yet, but Peloquin is already going back and fine-tuning her business plan. “I have already had to go back a couple of times to adjust numbers when I would look at the final outcome and see where there could be a problem in prices I had set. I was going to be paying too much for some supplies, which led me to get new suppliers and allowed me to achieve the margins I needed to make to be successful.”

Now a big fan of business plans, Diane would hate to think of what would have happened if she hadn’t written one. “If the developer hadn’t required that I have one I wouldn’t have made one, and I now realize this could have led to a huge disaster.”

Peloquin believes there’s no substitute for having a concrete plan when you’re starting your business. “Until you have everything in writing in front of you, you don’t know everything you should know.” She adds that Business Plan Pro made the entire process painless for her to accomplish. “I was amazingly impressed by how easy it was to do and how very professional the finished business plan was,” she says.

“I feel that doing a business plan gives you a great idea of how your business is going to work. You will be amazed by everything you learn about your industry.”