Take 2 dashes of guts, basic business knowledge, a splash of common sense, access to financing and a smidgeon of luck and that is the recipe for a successful business.

Obviously that can be said of any endeavour. Success in Business is sometimes a fleeting thing. I see people with MBA’s floundering in a new startup, lawyers doing poorly in practice and other professionals not reaching a level of achievement that is expected of them.

The self employment programs in Greater Vancouver provide skills that are both hard and soft in terms of knowledge base. The Small Business BC centre on Cordova, like my program,  provides similar workshops that deal with the nuts and bolts of operating a business while giving people insights and experiential knowledge that combines well with ‘normal’ business training in the strictest sense.

In the government funded self employment programs, and I will use SUCCESS’ as an example, we provide basic accounting and financing skills, internet and web skills, marketing and sales skills that combined with insight and personal relevance to make or break a business. I teach a workshop on how to name your company. Naming your company seems to be a relatively simple process but many find it daunting and forget to take into account google or yellow page searches, phonetics, cultural misunderstanding s of the name, etc.

Most small businesses need help with understanding the financial picture and health of their business. This includes knowing the amount of money needed to run the business for a minimum of 6 months and having backup financing from family or friends in place  in case of a crunch. Knowing about financing need not take the place of the bookkeeper or accountant but you should know apples and oranges when talking to those professionals.

Marketing is of equal importance to proper financing in my mind. If you can’t get your product or service out to the masses you will languish in your home office waiting for the phone to ring. You won’t have any need for accounting services at that point.

In our program we provide a great deal of mentoring and advisory services. I have a professional coach assigned to each new client-entrepreneur and that coach stays with the client while they are building their business. Specialty mentors come in as needed, e.g. a CGA may help a client with financing or accounting issues while a generalist mentor may be a retired photographer who may advise a photographer client in matters of overall photography business. We also have small groups of entrepreneurs who join together in teams of 4 as a Peer Group. The Peer Group  meets once a month and support each other. After all, the only thing they may have in common is that they are all entrepreneurs in a startup mode.

We utilize networking where possible to have my clients (80 per year) meet other entrepreneurs to gain insights, knowledge and ‘tricks’ of their trade. We utilize in-house networking events, Vancouver and Burnaby Boards of Trade receptions and events like www.meetup.com where groups advertise networking meetings.

People often refer to that successful entrepreneur as ‘the self-made’ man. That’s like saying the Beatles were overnight sensations. Some people luck into situations and some seemingly are always on top. Donald Trump has been bankrupt and lost hundred of millions but is seen as a major success and self-made man. I’d say one in hundred people have the total combination of luck, drive, passion, money and other resources to be self-made.

The seemingly huge rise in entrepreneurism is not a Canadian phenomenon. In April 09, soon after major layoffs occurred in Canada, Stats Can reported 9000 entrepreneurs started business in that month. Other countries are following suit. It provides people who are sitting on the employment fence to be motivated to do ‘what they always wanted to do’ and setup their business.

In BC, we have a lot of new immigrants who often have good business skills and business savvy, some financing in place but they lack not only the language skills but also the cultural sensibilities and nuances of conducting business in Canada. They need to try harder to succeed and know it. The single most cause for concern with new immigrant business people is the lack of integration and understanding of the culture. This culture can mean the buying habits of Canadians, demographics as well as understanding Canadian taste and language. Nick Noorani, best-selling author, has written a good handbook for new immigrants called Arrival Survival, a must read for people trying to adapt and integrate into the Canadian culture.

The best was to become successful? It’s called diligence and putting your passion to work!

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