Business plan writing in Vancouver — at least the good kind — can be hard to come by. Many writers offer this service, but may not have the technical, product, research, investment and financial skills and background to support a company through the process. Even for the most entry-level firms, having a trusted advisor who can help navigate through the basics of banking, family, friends, leasehold agreements and government grants can be critical. This takes more than mere writing, but it can be hard to find the right team for the job.



Business plan writing — a Vancouver story about something else

When I started my consulting and coaching business in Vancouver, I focused primarily on writing, communications and business plan writing. But, very quickly, I was being tagged to work on complex business plans. Sure, the copywriting had to be good, but I found myself working on market research, product positioning, marketing strategies, operations plans and planning the pitch to investors and stakeholders. My role grew and I wasn’t doing writing, marketing or communications anymore. I had moved into business strategic, finance, and operations, backing up my hands-on work and university studies with courses in finance and business. I headed back to school for an Executive MBA, while continuing to work full-time in my business. This allowed me to both broaden and deepen my experience.


Face it — you’re not in marketing

A few years ago, while working with a new Vancouver-based business coach for myself, a bit of a shock came over me. My coach, a 40-something white man, asked me if it had occurred to me that, if I had been a “white dude”, I never would have been told I was in marketing. He commented on the realization spreading over my face. He emphasized that the core of my business was finance and strategic planning. “But..but…!” I said. Except I didn’t have a counter argument.


He noted that my core experience with complex technology, financial services, business planning, ROI analysis, and lead generation fits more with finance and business. He also noted that my strong SEO made me float to the top of search results for Vancouver marketing consultant, but it wasn’t really a fit and more a reflection of my work in innovation. “Face it,” he said, adding something like, “You got called a marketing consultant because of gender and then because of search engine results.”


Turns out it was finance, business planning and strategy

Boom. It made sense. When I got into graphic design, web development, and content, collateral and database marketing, it was because these were bleeding edge ways to position companies, entrepreneurs and individuals. Direct marketing, ecommerce, social media, 1t1 marketing…it was all about innovating and using tools to get companies and organizations ahead. That’s why I was just as at ease with tech, VOIP, diversity and inclusion, web platforms, SaaS, bioinformatics, agtech, advocacy, routers, switches, hubs, grants, and financials. The theme wasn’t marketing. It was leveraging innovation in business planning, strategic and design. I wasn’t a Vancouver-based marketing consultant but really a Vancouver-based business plan coach and writer with an innovation toolkit. “It’s how you think and who you are”, said my coach.


From there, I set about a period of reflection. Where did I want to take myself and my company? What was the space I was in? What exactly does one do when their website ranked #1 in Google for ten years for “marketing consultant” and their other website ranked #1 for consulting and saw 60,000 visitors a month? What do I do when I’ve written a best-selling book on pricing? And what was I supposed to do when I’m an “expert” in business coaching and planning?


The terror of change

Well, the answer is a work in progress. It’s terrifying to give up search engine positions. The easy thing, I guess, would be to stay where I was, to keep doing the thing. But the reality is that my heart is in innovation, change and opportunity. And that means never being an expert, because you can’t be an expert and be at the edge of what is to come! So here I am, the coach who seeks out coaching and sees that being vulnerable, real and reflective is part of what I offer to my clients. If you think investing in business and career coaching so you can change is scary, exciting, and uncertain, you’re not alone. I feel you.






▲How I usually look.

▼How I look sometimes.

Vancouver business coach Andrea Coutu

I’m told my face can be…expressive. This is me presenting on Zoom, but it’s kind of how my face looks when I think of my own career shifts and realization that I was in a different space than I thought.