May 9 Team Building
Presented by NorQuest College The new world of business is all about teams: how to build them, how to work with them, and how to lead them. Participants in this workshop will learn about some of the key building blocks of successfull teams, including personality types, building a culture of respect, and conflict resolution theories and strategies, to name just a few. Cost includes course materials.
May 10 Change Management
Presented by NorQuest College Change is the one constant in today’s business world, and learning to manage change can appear overwhelming. This workshop helps eliminate the anxiety associated with change. Topics include recognizing the need for change, understanding the importance of building the change team, identifying the dynamics and hurdles that might be encountered, assessing and managing resistance, and identifying the metrics of success. Cost includes course materials.
May 15 NFPA 472 Awareness
Presented by NorQuest College This hazardous materials course is designed for personnel and first responder personnel (Fire, Police, EMS, and industry) who may be faced with a scene involving a hazardous materials/weapons of mass destruction incident or emergency. This course stresses how personnel can protect themselves, initiate proper response, and secure the area. NFPA 472 Awareness is a pre-requisite for NFPA Fire/Rescue courses. Cost includes course materials
May 17 Professional Sales Bootcamp
Presented by Sandler Training What’s the biggest barrier that keeps you, and/or your business from making more sales while holding or increasing margins? Most will agree that there is room for improvement for every individual and/or business no matter how many years they have been in business. The real pros want to improve! The problem is accurately determining in which areas they need improvement. If you don’t have a system that enables you to do that, we do. The Sandler…
May 26 How to Start Your Own Business
Presented by NorQuest College Is there a new product you want to create or service you’d like to provide? To improve your chances for success, attend this business startup workshop to learn: •How to tell if your idea is viable •The ingredients for building a business that will excel •Business Plan basics •Steps to get started Cost includes course materials.
May 29 Certified Guest Service Professional
Presented by NorQuest College Course topics include five modules: 1) Service Recovery 2) Inclusion, Personalization of Service 3) Personal Commitment to Service 4) Passion, Knowledge, and Bringing out your Personality 5) Real-world examples of how the world’s best guest service and hospitality companies create magic. Additional topics discussed: 1) Service Recovery and Dealing with Difficult Guests: role play situations, the Disney HEART model for Service Recovery, resolving intoxicated guest issues, assisting guests where a language barrier exists or other communication…
May 30 Leadership – The Essential Competencies
Presented by ACHIEVE Essential leadership skills and competencies often mean the difference between thriving or failing in a leadership role. This workshop is designed to help new or existing leaders increase their abilities to lead teams. Participants will gain skills to engage others, assess team dynamics, make better decisions, and to improve trust and influence with those they are leading. At the completion of the workshop participants will be equiped with tools for their own development as a leader and…
May 31 Difficult Conversations
Presented by ACHIEVE Whether sharing bad news with a client, providing corrective action, or talking with a colleague about an uncomfortable issue, difficult conversations often take a large mental and emotional toll on participants. In fact, having difficult conversations can be one of the most stressful and uncomfortable aspects of our lives and work. Yet the ability to handle difficult conversations respectfully and professionally is also an essential workplace skill. This workshop will review the key elements of preparing for,…
Download CETC - Clean Energy Technology Centre - 2017 Spring & Summer Program Guide Here!
For more information contact KRYSTLE KOTYK 780-514-2954 CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY CENTRE 5400 - 24 Avenue, Drayton Valley, AB www.cetc-dv.com
It may seem like two steps forward, one step back, but the weather is slowly warming up. Although the grass is still more brown than green, spring is certainly in the air.
Do you feel like it's time for the annual tradition of spring cleaning? You're not alone! In the coming months, thousands of Canadians will be cleaning out their basements, garages, storage units and more. Getting rid of junk and sprucing up your space can be a great way to get a fresh start for the summer. (The City of St. Albert even has an annual Take It Or Leave It event for unloading unwanted items, taking place on June 7 at Servus Centre this year!)
But have you thought about spring cleaning your business? We're not just talking about tossing out old office furniture - although it's great to get rid of that, too!
In the daily hustle and business of running a small business, it can be tough to find time to review old policies, bad habits, and internal structures. This season could be the perfect opportunity to make time for those things.
Here are a few tips to make the most of spring cleaning for your small business:
Documents, documents, documents! Keeping detailed documentation is important, but it won't matter much if you can never find the file you're looking for. An organized filing system will keep things running smoothly all year long - and especially when tax season comes back around next year.
Rework your web presence! With the number of clients that are increasingly going online to find a service provider, an annual website refresh will keep your business looking cutting edge. Cut out any information that is redundant, unnecessary, or out of date.
Assess your communications, both internal and external. Employees can get frustrated when communication isn't clear, so make it a priority to revisit your reporting structure. Similarly, it's important to keep customers in the loop. Spend time on strategies such as email newsletters or quarterly phone calls. What's best for your business?
Schedule your next spring cleaning, but don't wait until next spring! It doesn't take long for files to get messy and websites to fall behind, so create a proactive plan to stay on top of it all. Set a quarterly "spring" cleaning day to achieve ultimate organization.
Brittany Kustra is the Communications and Leasing Coordinator for NABI.
UPCOMING EVENTS - MAY
REGISTER ONLINE @ www.atbentrepreneurcentre.com
Whether you’re dreaming, building, or growing, the ATB Entrepreneur Centre offers a powerful set of tools to help your business and personal finances grow together.
Start Got an idea for a business you were born to start, but you wonder if you need to quit your job, bet the farm, or play it safe?
Learn The grind has shown what you’re made of. You understand your strengths and weaknesses. Do you know the game, but want to play it better?
Grow Have you established the next big thing, but expansion feels like tricky business?
Advice. Services. Resources. In each thing we do – mentoring, networking, banking – we’re passionate about seeing your inspiration come to life.
Call and chat with ATB Entrepreneur Centre small business experts, build a community of like-minded Albertans. For more information regarding any of the above events please contact ATB Entrepreneur Centre at atbentrepreneurcentre.com or email ECAskMeYEG@atb.com or call 780-408-7433.
(Katie Fitzgerald, Sales & Marketing Intern; Joe Becigneul - Board Chair; Alyssa Tintinaglia, Leasing & Programs; and Dar Schwanbeck, Managing Director)
Technology meets nature every year during Moonlight in the Meadows. The Alberta Council of Technologies (ABCtech), a group that advocates for the commercialization of innovative technologies in our province, hosts the annual networking event to bring together industries and businesses that are diversifying Alberta’s economy through technology.
On Tuesday, June 21 the council connected local industry leaders in the lush meadows of Edmonton’s river valley where they shared ideas, successes and future goals with fellow techies. White tents were brimming with corporate booths that showcased some of Alberta’s leading technology innovators and guests enjoyed a keynote address presented by Bob Fessenden that focused on Alberta’s economic diversification agenda.
“One of the reasons NABI attends is to network,” said Dar Schwanbeck, Managing Director, NABI. “We support the incubation of tech companies and come here to meet new potential clients.”
Moonlight in the Meadows is viewed as a collision space where people and ideas come together. “You never know who you’ll sit next to or what kind of conversations you’ll have,” said Schwanbeck.
2016 marks the business incubator’s fifth year in attendance. “NABI is an integral part of the innovation ecosystem in the Edmonton region,” said Cathy Goulet, Board Director, NABI. “It’s important to be part of events that stimulate creative and innovative thought,” making Moonlight in the Meadows an ideal business opportunity.
Check out the images captured by Ken Schmidt, NABI tenant and mark your calendar for next year. If you’re involved in the technology sector, you won’t want to miss it.
Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship, Alberta, Circa 2015 (4615 words from my diary, perhaps best tackled after a glass of wine.)
By Dar Schwanbeck, CMC, Managing Director, Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI)
First, thanks to all who shared a “congrats” note on my 10th Anniversary at the Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI). It’s a living lab for entrepreneurship and great place to work! Over the last 10 years I’ve engaged some 2,000 start-ups and small businesses. This is on top of 25 years as a practicing Management Consultant and another 1,000 client/prospect discussions.
With 3,000 conversations under my belt one might ask, “What have I learned about entrepreneurs (Part 1), the entrepreneurial playing field (Part 2), and what’s next? (Part 3).
PART 1 - ON BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR: Hurdles to Small Business Success and How to Overcome Them. (Note: This list is not exhaustive; rather a set of challenges we see over and over again. The point is, ignore any 2 or 3 of these and your business will not endure!)
1. Your business has to succeed as a business. Even if your intended service or product is as world-changing as you imagine, it will not produce, promote and sell itself. It is remarkable how many entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of basic financial literacy and business acumen: organizing and managing resources; planning marketing and sales; and thinking sober thoughts about finance and cash flow. Every business will die from upside-down priorities and lack of execution. Take time to discover what you need to know to succeed.
Success doesn’t always follow from knowing the right things to do and finishing them, but it sure won’t if you don’t.
2. Really have a competitive advantage. I still marvel at how difficult it is for entrepreneurs to be objective about this, especially given how critical this issue is!! I think the essence of the problem lies in the age-old asymmetry of the marketplace: producers make products and consumers want problems solved. Unlike the General Motors and Proctors & Gambles of the world, entrepreneurs are especially prone to being infatuated with their own stuff and underestimate how ruthless consumers are in their decision-making.
Competition is defined by market behaviour, period. Unless you understand your customers’ problems, why they buy and their options as they see them, you have no idea how easy it will be to ignore you.
3. Your willingness to sell is (still) a key. When I ask a room of aspiring entrepreneurs which of them enjoy selling, I ask those who haven’t raised an arm to give serious thought to leaving the room. For many people, selling isn’t natural, easy or enjoyable. For entrepreneurs, though, selling has to be a way of life. So you see the problem… Whether the entrepreneur was Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, success was directly related to their expressed passion. All three of these guys, and many like them, were tireless promoters. An entrepreneur without passion is unlikely to be successful. An entrepreneur with unexpressed passion has failed to harness the best and cheapest asset they have.
As a founder or small business owner, you will have to persuade all kinds of people–customers, investors, suppliers, staff, landlords, etc.—to do things they otherwise wouldn’t. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, was happy giving his invented technology away. Steve Jobs, less technically proficient, made a point right from the beginning, to ask for a premium over the alternatives already available and touted the differences justifying the price. He sold ease of use to customers and the value of charging for it to a reluctant Woz. That general orientation- total ease of use- has remained unchanged as a differentiator for what is now the biggest public company (by capitalization value). Sales aptitude, training and experience are useful, but (as in many pursuits) self-confidence and blind optimism are often passable substitutes for wisdom and ability. Rejection, whether deftly avoided or just swallowed, is something you have to contend with. (Just be very careful if you find yourself perpetually surrounded by idiots who say ‘no’…you might be holding on to the wrong end of the confidence stick.)
4. Know - and articulate - the worth of the problems you are solving. Long-term success depends on your ability to align the products you offer and the processes that create and deliver them with customer-desired outcomes. Ideally, those outcomes would be important, enduring and universal and your product would be the only or by far the best means of achieving them. Successful businesses identify opportunities and strategize responses at this most fundamental level of value-creation.
Are you planning to deliver enough value to enough customers? Put another way, is the pleasure of using your new product or service indisputably far better than the known pain customers are experiencing? It is important to understand that a prospective customer who is not in pain (they recognize) is not ready for what you have. Everybody hates New York taxis. That presented the perfect opening for Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber. On the other hand, if acquiring or using your solution merely exchanges a new set of pains for the ones they already have, you have not created compelling value.
5. Technology is one (but not ‘the’) key. Entrepreneurs have to do a lot of different things. Technology can transform almost any of them into push-button joys or time - and/or money-sucking nightmares. Everything from websites and social media, to accounting software and point-of-sales systems are in play. (This is all on top of your actual production or service delivery challenges. Chances are there are one or two key technological hurdles facing you there, too.)
The delusion to avoid is that Technology Will Everything. Too often, I’ve seen entrepreneurs investing tears and treasure in low - or negative-value solutions. When technology seduces you into solving the wrong problems, you lose the war, even when you win the technology battle.
6. Think technology application and distribution, not creation. Contrary to popular culture, very few new (successful) businesses are based on the introduction of novel gadgets. Most entrepreneurs introduce business process or market innovations. True, prosperity is fueled by innovation, but this is mostly about technology application and distribution, not creation. Small businesses excel at the former, not the latter.
7. Think global, act local. Most small businesses do not export, yet many face global competition. Ignoring this does not make it less true. But neither does indiscriminate promotion of ‘export readiness’. Businesses that are not competitive at home are unlikely to find more favorable conditions elsewhere. For many small businesses, the appropriate strategic response is to make their product more localized, not less. For example, imported solar system components could easily be bundled with non-importable local services – but local service policy needs to meet or exceed what global competitors are offering. In solar world this often includes free engineering and design services. And here’s one that even surprised me – last week I ordered 5 new dress shirts and 3 ties from an online vendor based in London, England (I live 6,801 km away in Sturgeon County, Alberta, Canada). Charles Tyrwhitt offered a very unique promotion in the Economist and offered a way-too-friendly, web-based shopping experience which cost me C$650!
8. Have a clear vision (goal) for your business. (Is it Big and Smart?) If you don’t have a firm and tangible commitment to achieving some future state of affairs, how can you make decisions, assign resources and coordinate action? In my experience, the right time horizon is three years and the (vision) measure is closely linked to a priority customer-desired outcome. Don’t pretend you know what the world will be like in five years. Do constrain yourself to a realistic objective. Hockey stick growth is as rare as it is desirable; fiction is not your friend.
In this regard, I find cold, hard numbers sobering. Decide what the really key numbers are – number of accounts, unit sales, profit, customer satisfaction, whatever – and drive the stake. One key measure I like to see for every entrepreneur is their version of “VMG” – velocity (and direction) / made good (toward your specific BIG goal). “VMG” is a term borrowed from Orienteering.
Spoiler alert: there is a 50% chance these metrics will serve as early indicators of failure, but that’s okay. Pilots use altimeters at night because they are preferable to the other way of finding out where the ground is…
9. Make sure to have your (whole) story nailed down. There’s no harm in following this or that trend when it comes to your pitch; good ones fit into anything – elevators, decks, tweets, etc. but beware that fondling the disruptive sex appeal of your concept doesn’t distract you from the fundamentals. What category are you doing business in? (Lots of people have tried to convince me that they are breaking entirely new ground. So far, none have.) What is your competitive advantage? Who makes up your supporting ecosystem? How do the members of your team complement each other? Where’s the money coming from and going to? When? What is your basis for believing your product has a market?
Tweet pitches are poetic distillations of your concept, enigmatic products of a spiritual journey within. Business planning is more like workaday journalism – answer the basic ‘W5+H’ questions and you’ll have told anybody interested everything they want to know.
10. Be curious or don’t bother. Great entrepreneurs are typically information junkies – they need to know what’s happening in their industry, with their competitors and especially with their customers. They get irritable and eventually jittery if they aren’t in touch. Markets are only getting bigger and faster, so even maintenance updates aren’t enough – you have to learn about new stuff. Plan to spend 30-60 minutes every day. (That’s half a day a week, for those of you wondering where entrepreneurs spend their evenings and weekends...)
11. Be prepared, equipped with a strong work ethic and discipline. Are entrepreneurs naïve, lazy, or both? Many entrepreneurs seem unwilling to do the work necessary to succeed. The love affair with their products continues, but the need to understand the complexities of doing business does not get anywhere the attention it deserves. If you’re not willing to do the work, don’t start. And, until you understand how much, and what kind of work will be necessary, that “yes” doesn’t count.
Spoiler alert: You might spend as little as 10% of your time doing that thing you love so much you decided to build a business around it. Bookkeeping is a long way from pie baking. Remember that one definition of an entrepreneur is it refers to the person willing to work twice the hours at half the income to avoid working for someone else. Let’s be clear, we are all working for someone else. Love it and know which of those you work for are most important to satisfy in the long run.
12. Investors want return-on-investment, and you should too! Best-selling author Seth Godin sums it up nicely, “They (investors) want you to put the money to use building an asset, something that works better and better over time, something that makes your project more profitable and more efficient. And, they want you to use that asset to create value that will pay them back many times over.
Most small businesses ignore both of these desires. There's so much stress from being on the edge, it feels like money will relieve that stress. And in the short run, it will. But if it doesn't build an asset, soon you'll be back to the edge, with the added problem of having an unrepaid investor as well.
Assets (buildings, machines, powerful brands, new technologies) are less essential than ever before. For many organizations, a laptop is worth more than a building or a punch press. That's great if you're getting started, because the connection economy has made the cost of entry lower than ever before.
It also means, though, that the easy-entry business you're in might not respond well to the investor's money. If there isn't an asset you can buy and build and defend and monetize, you're much better off not chasing one.” (Source: Seth Godin post, February 6, 2016)
13. Money: have it, grow it, keep it. Everyone knows that it takes some sort of money to start a business (equity investment, loan, etc.). And most realize it takes other sorts of money to sustain a business (revenue, cash flow, profits, etc.). What too many entrepreneurs get wrong is how much of all of these their business will need, now and down the road.
The physicist Richard Feynman once said: “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” For start-ups, money is like that. Find a Third Grader and demonstrate your pro forma with monopoly money.
PART 2 - ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN ALBERTA: The Playing Field is Muddy, Competition is Tough and We Need to Change Our Game. Ideas for those who support entrepreneurs.
Startup Canada, on the launch of the Canadian Entrepreneurship Institute, said "there is a lot we can do to create an entrepreneurial government that will create the conditions for startups and small businesses to scale as large, job-creating anchor companies in Canada." This is a great idea; what are the implications for Alberta?
1. Leadership is the engine; technology is the enabler. Recent revolutionary transformation has been enabled by industry application of technology, not technology by itself. Information technology is a good example of technology that enables innovation; innovation comes from industry leaders (Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick and others) who understand how to use technology strategically….and who can figure out business models that work for all stakeholders.
2. Small companies should get big company help to commercialize technologies. Big Fish are increasingly either necessary allies or overwhelming opponents. And the ally now who really loves you is likely to be the overwhelming opponent later unless you are highly nimble and somewhat paranoid. You are hoping your business might possibly scale. Scale is what they already are and already do. In mature, well-capitalized industries (and name one that isn’t), freestanding innovations are difficult to exploit and are easily smothered. Patents are generally worth far less and eclipsed far sooner than independent inventors expect. Getting paid requires creating value, which depends on making sales, which means reaching consumers, which follows from achieving distribution…
3. We may be too focused on shiny new things. The reality is that we will address the widest scope of the economy by supporting service-based entrepreneurs (50%+ of fast growth), not ones based on technology commercialization. Most of our GDP (both produced and consumed) is in services. The vast majority of small businesses are in services and so are most of the new ones.
Services, services, services! However, to understand how tricky it is to be successful in service, see if you can find agreement among any ten people on what “service” means. If we can’t agree on what it means with practical utility, how will be achieve success? (Good thing there is a way to solve this. See “What’s Next” below).
4. Emphasis should be more on entrepreneurial performance and less on economic diversification. Diversification is a complex, emergent market response to exogenous factors (economist speak for ‘stuff beyond our control’). There are a lot of reasons why various efforts to ‘diversify’ economies come to naught (most of them involve magical thinking about shoulder-checking existing markets and large pools of policy-compliant consumers).
What we can influence and support is the capacity and performance of the entrepreneurs that show up. (The breadth of opportunities they perceive and chase determines the diversity of an economy. How innovative, productive and successful they are determines its strength.) An engineering firm that addresses a known customer pain-point has a much greater chance of creating a sustainable job than yet another “compass app” for a smart phone.
5. Let’s fix the economic engines. Re-training workers may not be the right emphasis in an economic downturn. Perhaps we should be working to improve the efficiency and performance of the economic engines (i.e. businesses). There’s no point in training the drivers (or subsidizing the passengers) of an underperforming fleet of vehicles.
6. Finance repairs with money shifted from technology R&D funding. Are we making sufficient progress with the money almost totally allocated to technology R&D in Alberta (about $800 million annually)? How are these R&D projects doing on the Velocity Made Good measures? And when, if ever, are projects killed? Are there plans and milestones associated with R&D? Should some of the investment allocated to R&D be redirected to entrepreneurial capacity building?
7. Let’s choose better and faster (entrepreneurs) over both more and cheaper. It is a rare small business in Alberta without untapped opportunities to innovate. Many are suffering from low competitive advantage, whether they are in a fragmenting market or a consolidating one. Without the differentiation created by innovation – whether it lies in product, process, organization or market strategy – price is the default basis for competition and market entry. A race to the bottom of that barrel is bad for everyone (even consumers, in the long run). And, (entrepreneur) improvement efforts need to be company focused, not sector, program or geographically based (e.g. the Alberta Voucher program addresses market validation for technology, yet comes up short addressing the human potential to commercialize).
Entrepreneurs are typically domain experts (or, at least, enthusiasts) and business neophytes. We need to lower barriers to entry, but also gate-keep and build business capacity. Simply increasing the number of entrepreneurs will probably increase failure rate. We want better, not more, entrepreneurship.
8. Entrepreneurs often don’t know what they should know to succeed. This is an extension of the old four quadrant “competence” and “awareness” window which proposes that there might be critical skills or variables that must have our attention if we are to succeed. An example is outlined.
This window suggests a couple of very critical challenges for any entrepreneur improvement intiatives: 1) Any surveys in which we ask the entrepreneur what he/she needs to grow his/her business has a high probability of delivering incorrect results, and 2) in online-based training, entrepreneurs will most-likely pursue topics of interest, or what they think they need to know.
9. Entrepreneurs deserve high quality, specific advice. Alberta has a lot of advice/support for small business, but is it up to the quality it should be? Frankly, we can’t do very much to alter the number or composition of those eager-to-be entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship has always been a largely individual response to a perceived socioeconomic environment and personal situation. There are things we can do to help some of them survive and thrive. But maybe we should also strive to be more honest with those considering it. Early, high quality advice would help reduce the personal and social costs of entrepreneurial failure.
Intervening in infeasible concepts and faltering businesses pays diverse socioeconomic dividends. ‘Prevention’ and ‘palliative care’ are neglected aspects of community-centered, real-world entrepreneur support.
High-potential, committed competitive swimmers deserve competent coaches; they have the aptitude and ability to make good use of them. But, recognizing that we don’t turn away people who want to try swimming, isn’t posting lifeguards even more important?
10. Entrepreneurs can benefit from personal coaching. Entrepreneurship is like fitness…it benefits from direct, professional guidance that takes a very specific, approach to working on identified weaknesses, leveraging existing strengths toward attaining individualized goals using a conventional set of tools. Global trade is like the Olympics, and how many Olympians do you know that have not had professional coaching? This can be done in a shared environment; some work is possible, or even best done, in small groups.
Expecting individuals to achieve success on their own with inexpensive, one-size-fits-all, pre-packaged materials is to indulge in the kind of self-delusion that fuels after-hours infomercials. Results will vary, and we all know in what direction...
11. Let’s help our entrepreneurs give their customers what they want: Why food courts work and why we should apply the same rules to food trucks! Its simple: customers know where to go to get fed; they want choice and to be able to buy dessert right next to the main course. Choice and entertainment sell more. If you doubt that, check out retail big box sales per square foot. There is so much more we can do to help our entrepreneurs connect with their customers (regulations, traffic, zoning, process cycle, etc.).
12. Are we asking the right questions? Alberta is still a heavily resource-based, export-dependent economy. Or, at least, the economy we want to have (back) has a carbon-based foundation. Is pain-free diversification away from oil the right dialogue? Isn’t the pertinent question either “How much can we produce at $20 per barrel?” or “What does (or should) Alberta’s economy eventually look like if we sell (a lot) less oil?”
How does entrepreneurship and innovation policy respond to those questions? (And, setting aside a presumption of 100% congruence between policy and reality, how about the entrepreneurs and innovators, themselves?)
13. We need clear, specific outcomes. We (our governments) need to clarify and prioritize economic outcomes we want to achieve and avoid. There are different types of growth - some are mutually exclusive (e.g., increasing productivity may diminish investment and/or jobs). “Growth” and “jobs” are frequently glued together as sound-bites, but they don’t suffice as a clear road map for the direction we want to go. It’s time to be specific about what we want without the juvenile pretence that we can have it all. Alberta needs to envision and create the future it wants. Conventional approaches will not be sufficient. This future needs to be communicated as part of activities that motivate existing and potential entrepreneurs.
14. Business incubation is based on self-selection. Clients cannot be lead to the entrepreneurial waters nor made to start. A conventional political mantra is “we shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners” – that may be true, but the reality is that we can’t predict or manufacture winners, even when we try.
So we ought to apply ourselves at supporting a broad base of interested citizens and offering specific kinds of help to small businesses.
15. Bureaucratic-led initiatives for entrepreneurs seldom work. The job of government is to reduce/avoid risk; the job of the entrepreneur is to take risk; a mismatch between policy objectives and entrepreneurial interests. The role for government is to create an approachable, reasonably safe playing field that does not, itself, create barriers or dangers.
This is more about installing high-quality neighborhood jungle-gyms than devising a high-visibility, ‘own-the-podium’ gymnastic program.
16. Government’s job is to create the playing field. Governments can be much more entrepreneurial and supportive toward helping local business succeed - purchasing, product trials, etc. - but notice that they are here acting as market participants, not masterminds. Also, governments should work much harder to reduce regulation and shorten cycle times. Economic development strategy that is focused on growth from within will have much more success than any attraction strategy.
17. We get the entrepreneurs we deserve. Enhancing the performance of Alberta’s entrepreneurs requires a significant change in thinking as well as a significant shift in how we invest support resources. Today we support products and technology (i.e. highly scalable Silicon Valley thinking); what we need is acknowledgement that we live in a services-based economy, where we need investment in human capital and capable firms. And, we probably don’t need more investment, just a shift in focus and resource allocation.
PART 3 - WHAT’S NEXT? Lets try a pilot program to build entrepreneurial capacity.
If we want to be successful at innovation and diversification in Alberta, on a significant scale, start-ups, small businesses, big businesses and government all need to work together to address market access, regulations and finance. Conversation is full of platitudes, yet little advice on how to practically start working on this agenda. Below is an agenda for action.
1. A pilot program to connect entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and government agencies (all levels) to create enthusiasm and develop entrepreneurial skills through a structured program of transformation. The idea is to demonstrate that we can materially enhance the capacity of our entrepreneurs. An initiative of this scope needs to involve many Provincial departments and should probably be sponsored at the Executive Branch level.
2. Develop core program delivery capabilities in Alberta using existing resources that have demonstrated exceptional results in other jurisdictions.
3. Dramatically increase the number of new non-petroleum businesses that survive more than 5 years and grow an average of over 50% per year, and size increases beyond 20 employees.
4. Provide a new business excellence system, skills and tools to 2,020 entrepreneurial leaders by the year 2020. The idea is to showcase/plant the seeds of excellence province-wide. Perhaps something like a “Growth Voucher” (similar to a technololgy voucher) could be used as a catalyst to attract the attention and engage firms with growth potential (the “cheese” in the growth machine).
5. Establish and support up to 20 entrepreneurial business projects in 2016, likely to have a marked impact on business success and economic diversity, beyond what would otherwise be achieved.
6. Establish and support up to 10 intrapreneurial demonstration projects with Provincial government agencies in 2016 to make measurable, sustainable, innovative improvement that benefits its business and citizen customers, especially those involved in pursuits that will result in economic diversity for Alberta.
7. Generate at least 5-to-1 ROI across all projects (intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial) within the first 18 months.
8. If steps 1 to 7 are successful, scale it up and do it again for as long as it takes. My hunch is that over 5 years we could impact at least 2,000 entrepreneurs and generate $1 Billion in incremental sales.
File: Entrepreneurship in Alberta Circa 2015 (06 March 2016)
A day in the life of a summer intern... Katie Fitzgerald
Katie started interning with NABI as a Sales & Marketing Business Intern in early June, a former participant of the Gen Y CEO program co-organized by NABI,the City of St. Albert and Junior Achievement.
Fitzgerald starts her day at the Mission Centre office at 8:00 a.m. sharp. She fires up her laptop, tucks away her belongings and compiles a list of tasks during a stand up team meeting to prepare for the day ahead.
A typical day in the life of NABI's summer intern is diverse and challenging. "I like reading up on the news and updating our social media channels in the morning," explained Fitzgerald. This routine activity is often followed by major projects or non-routine tasks, such as event planning, conducting market research among St. Albert businesses, attending client meetings or completing odd jobs requested by fellow NABI team members.
Whenever Fitzgerald has free time to fill, she focuses on learning. "I look for business articles that interest me and research random topics to expand my knowledge," said Fitzgerald. Improving NABI's social media presence is something she's consistently worked on, which her free time and research skills have enabled her to do.
According to Fitzgerald, some of the most treasured aspects of her internship include:
"I'm definitely very happy that I worked with NABI this summer," emphasized Fitzgerald. "Working at a business incubator provided me with a unique experience because I was able to see how small businesses operate and grow first hand, as well as learn new skills in a supportive environment."
It's been a pleasure having Fitzgerald on board and the NABI team wishes her well as she returns to Grant MacEwan to pursue her Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Read the full article in NABI Connector Newsletter
St. Albert Gazette Wednesday, Nov 02, 2016 By: Kevin Ma Read full newspaper article click here
A St. Albert-based company will be taking its filter technology global this month as it takes part in an international climate change conference.
David Dooley of Baleen International told the Gazette recently that his company was one of a handful of Canadian firms invited to speak at the upcoming COP22 conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
The Conference of the Parties is an annual meeting of world leaders under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Erin Flanagan, federal policy director with the Pembina Institute and member of the Canadian contingent at the meeting. This is the 22nd such meeting.
COP21 in Paris set a worldwide goal of keeping climate warming to less than 2 C, Flanagan explained. COP22 will be about how to reach that goal.
“Every country has to do more sooner,” she said, including Canada.
Baleen International is an Australian company with a headquarters in St. Albert that produces industrial water filtration devices.
Dooley, the company’s president, said his staffers will present on the importance of wastewater treatment during a forum on oceans at the conference.
The world’s oceans absorb about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, yet are under threat from numerous forms of pollution, Dooley said. Some of those pollutants, such as microplastics, can’t be stopped by conventional treatment systems.
“We have to treat (wastewater) like an asset,” he said.
Dooley said nations could use technologies such as those made by his company to mine wastewater for resources, improving water health and reducing emissions.
It’s definitely exciting for a Canadian firm to be recognized at a conference like this, Flanagan said.
“Climate change and policy actions on climate change in Canada is about global opportunities,” she said, and opens space for Canadian firms in developing markets.
The conference runs from Nov. 7 to 18.
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