I was recently interviewed by CBC International and the Vancouver Employment Paper,  both had similar questions regarding why there are so many entrepreneurs in British Columbia.  I thought I’d share some Q&A’s.

1) What role do your programs and services play when it comes to self-employment and entrepreneurship? What needs to be taught?

SUCCESS’ BizLaunch Entrepreneur program gives tools to the budding entrepreneur in workshops, coaching and other resources so that they are not going into business by themselves. Many people think they just have to ‘hang a shingle’ and customers will come. We teach them to focus their ideas into a planned business, develop sales and marketing tools that will be specific to their business, provide them coaching and management support culminating in a quality Business Plan. I’m finding that marketing as we know it may be completely changed in 2 years and the new entrepreneur must stay on the edge by following new methods to get their message out. This includes social media networking also known as ‘engagement’ marketing. Guerilla marketing techniques (getting your message out for little or no cost) is the realm of the startup.

2) Despite the economic recovery underway, are you seeing more interest in your services as result of the downturn?

I’m seeing a continued interest in Self employment (SE), we prefer to call it entrepreneurism as in the latter you work on your company not in it. I see a large number of older workers typically pre and active baby boomers who have been laid off. This seems to have taken over from the economic slump and is now being driven by older workers with high salaries being let go in favor of young workers with average salaries.

3) With one of the highest levels of self-employment in the country, what do you believe drives British Columbians’ entrepreneurship?

BC’s entrepreneurism seems to be driven by a few things.
– opportunity by the closeness of the pacific rim countries and the power of their economies and product choices
– immigrants are a significant segment of this entrepreneurism. They come to Canada expecting to use their university training, e.g. doctors, engineers and they can’t secure jobs in their fields. This is far more common in other ethnic areas, other than Chinese, than one would expect. Iran and other eastern countries including Russia are among high levels of those seeking to be entrepreneurs in BC. As expected Chinese and Koreans lead the way among immigrants.
– cost of living, people who are earning minimum wages are turning to the ‘underground’ economies to increase household revenues. Add HST and it’s a booming business from the guy doing landscaping on the weekends to the seamstress doing piecework in the evenings.
– the BC culture (of all of the above) adds to an environment in which most people know an entrepreneur and the ideas or business the entrepreneurs have seems like, ‘if they can do it why not me’.

Looking at the successful businesses started by these new entrepreneurs shows us the failure rate is as high as the rest of the country, somewhere around 20-25% after one year.

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