I was asked by the Editor of a local newspaper to respond to some questions about Entrepreneurs for a Small Business Month editorial. I’ve answered them here.

1. Small businesses, most of which start off with a single employee, make up
a significant number of employers in B.C. Beyond the necessity of running a
business, how and where can entrepreneurs learn to deal with people,
employees and customers, in a fashion beneficial to company growth?

It is a case of hit and miss. A good place to start is to join a business network that has tradeshows, monthly events and a place to mix with other entrepreneurs. The Vancouver Board of Trade is good if you want to mingle with Larger business and Burnaby Board of Trade if you like a smaller business environment. With social media I recommend joining two local business networks; Byzhub.com has monthly get-togethers in a physical and local social environment. With roughly 1000 local members this is a fast growing site. Tweetup.com is a place you can form your own social/business group or join a plethora of groups in a similar interest or a type of entrepreneur you may want to hook up with. I personally like the Vancouver Entrepreneur Network, with several hundred members it covers a variety of business types. Most of these groups offer advice, camaraderie with the idea that all attending have something in common. Although they are online , the meetings are in local pubs, or business venues. Many entrepreneurs like you may lack the personal skills they need to interact with customers. These are good places to practice!

2. Are there certain areas where entrepreneurs and small business owners can
enjoy greater success than others? For example, are restaurants really the
toughest to open?

Restaurants are the toughest to open by far. The success rate is several times less likely to succeed than other businesses. Some of the up and comers are online super niche internet statistical entrepreneurs who make incredible money providing statistical analysis for sellers of online good and services. This is the year of the super niche entrepreneur.

3. Is an entrepreneurial education as important for those people who choose
to open and operate a franchise compared with an original concept?

I think the franchise owner has an easier time of running the business over one who opens from scratch but don’t be misled both are difficult and anyone with any entrepreneurial ‘education’, even a failure in the past, is better of f than one who has not experience or education

4. We have heard that more people have started businesses during the
downturn as a result of either losing their jobs or facing reduced work or
pay as companies downsize. Is it a better idea to start a small business
when times are good, or when they are bad?

Opening a business is all about having the passion to do the business and timing. If your friends all tell you that you are crazy they may be jealous of your entrepreneurial spirit or they really may really believe it is a bad idea for you personally knowing you as they must. The idea that many successful businesses have begun in bad times indicates that different times in the economy call for different businesses and strategies. Remember there is always opportunity, one must find it. During the recession last year, for instance, I almost bought a local beer company because I thought it was recession proof –when people get depressed they drink at home. I wouldn’t have opened a restaurant last year.

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  1. Completely agree. Luck and your network often comes into play as well…essentially being in the right place at the right time. Thanks for sharing!

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