Things Immigration Lawyers and Consultants Need to Look for in a Business Plan Writer

Although there are companies that advertise as business plan writers, many will have very limited knowledge of the complex business immigration field beyond basic guidelines.

To be effective in the role, a business plan writer in this field should of course have a deep knowledge of building and operating businesses in Canada and a sound understanding of business and financial models.

But as importantly, they should have extensive knowledge of all of the various immigration pathways and programs, the requirements of each pathway, and the fine details and requirements at every stage of the application process. They must also understand precisely what the immigration officers are looking for in the application, a business concept and/or the business plan.

To ensure your clients succeed with their business plan in Canada, the business plan writer will have considerable experience in this particular field and the knowledge to challenge assumptions made about the proposed business. And when necessary, they should be able to suggest alternative locations, markets, products/services, etc. in order for the applicant to have the greatest chance of success.

For example, the applicant may be applying for the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) but would score many more points under the BC PNP Regional Pilot program and therefore increase their chances of immigration substantially.

Matching Programs to Entrepreneur Applicants

Every program and every pathway have different and specific guidelines for business plans. Some require a maximum of 20 pages, while others have no page limit. Some require specific questions to be answered in the business plan, whereas others ask more open-ended questions. There is considerable variability and this determines how well the plan will hit the right notes.

Those that focus on the business itself are best suited to fit certain specific programs over other ones because the applicant will gain more points by aligning closely with the intent and specific needs of the program they are applying under. And that may be something that’s overlooked by a consultant or lawyer who is not as familiar with these distinctions.

For example, the applicant may apply for the PNP program, without realizing that because of their business plan (type, location, profile, etc.) they would gain significantly more points by applying for the BC regional pilot program, thereby increasing their chance of successful immigration.

Then again, some business plans need to have more focus on the applicant themselves (such as the C10, C11, and Self-Employed Persons Program) than the business itself.

Further to that, a business plan could be tailored to a specific program, but an important element may be overlooked by the lawyer or consultant who believes that it’s better to take a shot at an opportunity than not.  

Sharp Business Plans has the breadth of experience to recognize these distinctions and create a business plan that zeroes in on the requirements of each pathway and program.

And due to our expertise, we can also challenge misguided assumptions of the applicant and point out what is lacking in the business model that likely won’t work in a certain market or geo-location. With this insight we will suggest viable alternative locations, markets, products or services.

At Sharp, we dig for contradictions that could spell failure for the applicant.

Phases of the Process

When it comes to PNP pathways, before Sharp even creates the initial business concept, we build the financial model and write a large portion of the business plan.

We do this in order that the two documents align perfectly at submission time and are feasible elements for the business concept. This way, we know that the business plan that we subsequently deliver will be consistent with the business concept and financial plans throughout the process and into the operational phase.

If the business concept is prepared first, by the time the financial model is being developed the applicant will know whether the business is going to work as a profitable enterprise.

This is very critical and the following explains why.

The Performance Agreement: Get it right the first time

For what is usually termed a ‘performance agreement’, the applicant will have submitted several documents and statements which must be consistent throughout subsequent stages of the application process. Statements made in the business concept must align with the business plan, so it is critical that the proposed business is vetted by the business plan writer for the program/pathway under which the applicant is applying.

For example, let’s say the applicant declares they are going to invest $250,000 into the business. And then when they start building a financial model based on that number, they realize they really only need $220,000. The program requires a minimum investment of $250,000, so they would have to invent other ways to invest more money. However, these additional investments must be substantiated and make sense to the IRCC officer reviewing the file.

Although the applicant could revise the plan by increasing the investment and the number of jobs created, it could force the business model to change. However, being partway through the application process it may be too late for the applicant to revise the business concept.

Realistically, IRCC is going to look at that business critically and objectively and ask whether it is even feasible for the applicant’s business to earn the amount of money cited in the plan and hire the number of people promised in the performance agreement.

And if IRCC decides that the extra amount is not a suitable investment allocation, they can simply deny the application altogether.

Even if the applicant waits another year or more to resubmit to that same program, they will already be earmarked in the system as having submitted an application and been rejected. So automatically, their chances of being accepted in another round will be lower.

But let’s say the business gets permission to go ahead. IRCC officers will come a year and a half or two years into the process and check to discover if that business is meeting its commitments for investments and jobs, as stated in the performance agreement. If not, the applicant’s work permit will be cancelled.