The Burnaby Board of Trade has participated in a handful of educational sessions recently for entrepreneurs interested in starting new businesses.
Through meeting those prospective business owners, hearing about their ideas and listening to their concerns, I was reminded of the importance of the entrepreneur to our economy.
The numbers are staggering when you consider how many small businesses we have in B.C., and how they dominate our business community. According to the 2018 Small Business Profile from the provincial government, there are 501,300 businesses in B.C. and fully 98 per cent of those classify as a “small business” with fewer than 50 employees. Digging deeper, you will see 83 per cent of B.C. businesses have five or fewer employees and 60 per cent of all businesses in B.C. are self-employed entrepreneurs.
As a province, B.C. has long been a hotbed of entrepreneurship and regularly leads the country in small business creation. The growth rate of the number of small business is double that of the national average and B.C. has over 102 small businesses for every 1,000 people - the second highest in all of Canada. All of those small businesses contribute 35 per cent of our provincial GDP and create 1.1 million jobs.
When you consider these numbers, it is easy to see why the success of small businesses looms so large for our economy.
When talking to entrepreneurs, what I often end up sensing (beyond their energy and passion for business) is a frustration with how cumbersome the process of starting a business can sometimes be.
Entrepreneurs are by definition action-oriented and get things done, so trying to understand and navigate rules and norms can really hold them back. Tasks like filling out government paper work, finding market research, or trying to understand regulations, while important, can end up sidetracking entrepreneurs as they spend more time on that than on developing their companies and adding to that economic contribution of small business.
This was the driver behind the Burnaby Board of Trade developing theBurnaby Business Resource Guidebook, a one-stop guide that curates relevant and important information on getting a new business up and running. Instead of searching and googling for hours, our goal was to try to put most of what a new business would need to think about or know in one easy place.
This guidebook, available for free online, provides tips, walkthroughs and templates for every stage of a business, from researching ideas, to registering with governments, to the hiring that first employee.
Running any business, especially a small business, is no easy task; entrepreneurship is challenging, but can also be incredibly fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding. I hope the Burnaby Business Resource Guidebook helps make that path to success a little bit easier for Burnaby entrepreneurs, which given the stats and figures above, would be a win for all of us.
The Burnaby Business Resource Guidebook is available as a free download at www.bbot.ca/guide.
Paul Holden is CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade.