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Who needs "Business Plans for Dummies?" asks Ontario small business owner

CompanyBontara Natural Health & Wellness Centre
Industry:Health Care and Social Assistance
City:Fort Erie, Ontario
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Obtaining funding with a professional business plan

A professional business plan can help with a lot of things, also with obtaining government funding for your business. Lavonne Carrol founded a martial arts school and received a professional business plan from the Centre for Business Plan Development to secure financing to franchise her business idea.

Conflict resolution with martial arts training

When Lavonne Carrol's children were young, she enrolled them in a martial arts class in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and she soon began working at the school herself. The shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado were a recent memory, and parents were concerned with the effects of bullying. "Everybody was coming to the martial arts looking for conflict resolution, and wanted their children to be trained so they could defend themselves with all the bullying that was going on," she says.

Working in martial arts leads to new business idea

Her own daughter was having difficulties with bullying at school, and when the martial arts instructor Carrol brought in a speaker named Terrance Webster-Doyle, she immediately got interested in how martial arts could help children cope with life and social challenges, including conflict resolution. Webster-Doyle is a former schoolteacher and administrator as well as a sixth-degree black belt, and he has written 21 internationally acclaimed books on conflict education and the martial arts. "With what was going on with my daughter and working in the martial arts, I started thinking about what would be a really good program, and what it could offer to children," says Carroll. "Rather than just teaching how to fight, martial arts has the potential to do more than that. And parents were willing to pay for it."

Government helps start Martial Art Body Mind Education Center

She contacted Webster-Doyle to get permission to use his ideas, and later spent two weeks at his invitation in Orlando, Florida training in the Martial Arts Partners for Peace program. When she returned to Nova Scotia, she was ready to start her business Martial Art Mind Body Education Center (MAMBEC). "Mark Smith helped me a lot in getting this business set up, because he knew what was needed," says Carroll. She was accepted into the Self Employment Benefits program (SEB), a government-financed program which gave her training on how to start and run a small business. "The province paid me a thousand dollars a month for 10 months, and they helped me start MAMBEC."

New martial arts program is well received

She rented a space at Cole Harbour Place, a busy sports and community centre in Dartmouth, for MAMBEC, and soon found there was a big demand for the service. She also worked with a local school, developing after school martial arts programs. She refined her programs, breaking an hour into a warm-up, including yoga for kids; self-protection techniques; life skills; and a game to reinforce what the kids learned that day. "It just took off," she says. "The kids just loved it, and in no time I had 200 students."

Exploring the idea of a franchise

Her boyfriend, Steve Garvey, also had training in martial arts, and he soon joined her in the business. Today, MAMBEC has two additional locations in Porters Lake and Elmsdale, and Carroll has started to explore franchising the MAMBEC system. "I've probably got 400 hours of programming at this point, and I'm packaging all the life skills and stories and games into one hour lessons," she says. "It's coming together quite nicely, so by the end of this year, it should be a complete package."

Professional business plan gives sense of security

In order to take MAMBEC to this exciting next stage, Carroll and Garvey realized they needed financing and a professionally prepared business plan from the Centre for Business Plan Development. "I had always had a business plan, and every year I would go over it and make it a little sharper. But when I applied for funding, I felt that so much had changed that I should have it re-written. I like to have things done professionally. I don't want to send in something not done by a professional."

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

Please note our Centre is not affiliated to programs profiled in the above article and no claim is made that funding is due to our Centre unless stated.

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