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Alberta small business owner uses business plan to look to future growth

CompanyHartley's Equipment Rentals
Industry:Transportation and Warehousing
City:Olds, Alberta
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Small business plans help prepare for the future

Caroline Hartley knew she could do a better job. After working for a number of years at an equipment rental business in Olds, Alberta, she had learned the business from every angle. And she saw where the existing company was doing a less than stellar job, including failing to put money back into the company and equipment maintenance. "I was getting pretty fed up with the equipment not working anymore, because they weren't replacing it," she says. She saw the opportunity to offer a better equipment rental service with the help of small business plans.

Meanwhile, after 25 years working in the oil field her husband, Mark, was looking for something that would let him be home more often. The couple considered buying the existing business, but felt it was overpriced. "They wanted over $400,000 for his equipment, and it was only valued at $87,000," says Caroline. "So I said well, I can take $400,000 and go around the corner and open a new shop with all new equipment. And that's what I did." They began by using equity in their home to take out a $50,000 loan, which was enough to get them started. Mark quit his job, and they opened Hartley's Equipment Rentals.

The company is targeting the gas and oil industry, as well as residential and commercial construction. And despite a rainy spring and early summer, business has been good. "There's always stuff going on because the town is just growing at the speed of light," says Caroline. "The recession did hurt a little bit, but it's definitely turning around." The oil field business has been picking up recently, and the Hartleys are looking forward to a steady winter.

Small business plans can help grow businesses

The Hartley's recognized that a business plan would help them grow their business. "I feel it's necessary for a lot of things," says Caroline. "Say eventually that I want to start leasing equipment, which we're not doing right now because we don't want to go into heavy duty debt. Or, if we have to renew our loan in five years. For anything you want to do, they want a business plan, so why not get one done, and then you can use it for so many other things. Anything to do with the government, bank, anything to expand your business they require a business plan. "I think it's going to come in handy in the future for many other things."

Working with the Centre for Business Plan Development was straightforward and easy, says Caroline. "Our writer was very easy to talk to, and he had easy answers for all my questions regarding the business plan. Even when I got my draft, I think only changed five or six little things out of 60-something pages, so he had it pretty much down pat. He really listened."

Organization is everything

Hartley's Equipment Rentals has quickly become the go-to place in Olds. "My husband works very hard at this," says Caroline. "Organization and cleanliness and customer service should be right on top of your list. The shop I used to work for was so disorganized. You had to trample on pieces of equipment to find the equipment you needed. It's night and day. Our stuff is all new, and after every piece of equipment comes in, the mechanic goes over it with a fine tooth comb. It's a hard industry but if you take care of your stuff and do your due diligence behind the counter, you save yourself a lot of heartaches."

Dedicating time to a business

While Mark misses getting a regular paycheck, he's enjoying being home and working on an investment in his future, says Caroline. "I think the last six months that he was in the oil field, he was home twice on long weekends. He enjoys being home every day and eating home cooked food." She laughs. Caroline advises prospective entrepreneurs to make sure they want to dedicate all their time to their businesses. "If you're not willing to put in seven days a week, then don't start a business."

Imagine how a professionally prepared business plan could help grow your business. For a free consultation, call 1-800-481-8434.

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