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Chambers are often asked for advice on how to start a business.
Building your own business from the ground up is no easy task. There is no
template or formula to creating a hugely successful business. There is just
sheer hard work, determination and a will to succeed. Apple founder Steve Jobs
once famously said “If you really look closely, most overnight
successes took a long time.”
Sure You Have Support
Starting up your own business is a difficult task and this can
be made even more so if you feel that you are not being supported by the ones
closest to you. How can you expect to succeed if you feel that those nearest
and dearest to you do not believe in your abilities? If you’re married and/or
have kids, you should also be asking your family how they feel about your
working from home, as your decision will affect them both financially and
psychologically. If the response is negative, spend time addressing any
concerns. If you are unable to change their minds decide whether your goal is
worth continuing against their wishes. This does not just end with family,
asking close friends, colleagues or peers for their support can give you that
In any start-up, you don’t know what you don’t know. This is
especially true when you’re entering an unfamiliar industry.
Get started through research, studying the competition and
talking to mentors. The first thing when thinking of establishing a new
business is to take the time to do research on your market. This doesn’t have
to involve substantial costs, you can find out key information by taking the
time and undertaking it yourself. This will allow you to perform a SWOT analysis, assessing your
competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the
marketplace. It will also give a clear picture without any further investment at
this time as to the viability of your proposition.
Numerous studies have shown that one of the major reasons new
businesses fail is poor planning. If you are planning on starting up a
business, you must have a business
plan. This will serve as a road map to guide you, and communicate with your
bank or investors what you’re doing and why they should invest in you.
It should include a mission statement, executive summary,
product or service offerings, target market, marketing plan, industry and
A detailed and comprehensive business plan should ideally be
able to answer the following questions;
What primary product(s) or service(s) will you provide?
What will you charge for your products(s) or services(s)?
What does it cost you to deliver this product or service?
How many pieces must you sell or how many clients must you
secure to generate the revenue you desire?
Who is the target market for your product(s) or service(s)?
Why will they buy from you?
How exactly will you reach your target market to sell to them?
How will you get going right now with your currently available
resources? What do you absolutely need that you’ll need help with?
What could stand in your way of generating sales—and how will
you overcome such obstacles?
What benchmarks must you reach to qualify your business as a
the Right Funding
Potential sources of funding include a small-business loan from
your local bank, tapping into your savings, money from other investments,
borrowing from family/friends and, as a last resort, credit cards. Ideally,
this investment will help you break even after a year, but keep in mind that
even successful businesses can remain in debt for the first few years. The best
way to start a business is to start out small and dip your toe in, so to speak.
The advantages to testing your market will ensure you do not end up in a hole,
with nothing to show. There are a lot of successful businesses, which have
started out with a very minimal investment a great product and a great business
The amount of avenues in which you can obtain capital is large
and research can help you uncover them.
Why Others Have Failed
People naturally want to emulate success by analyzing successful
business models, but it’s more important to learn from companies that have
failed. You can learn from success stories but that same is true of failures.
Learning from others mistakes significantly decreases your chances of following
the same path. Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell once said “There
are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and
learning from failure.”
There can be thousands of factors that contribute to business
success, but when a business fails, it’s often easy to pinpoint the reasons.
You must avoid making these mistakes yourself.
Your Name Out There – Networking
There is usually a local or national trade show expo or
conference in every industry, where the “who’s who” all gathers in one place. Your
local chamber may even host a business expo. Attend these events. You’ll have
the chance to learn the lay of the land, meet hundreds of people in person and
learn about what’s new in your industry. It’s also a great place to form new
partnerships. Bring lots of business cards!
The moment your business strategy has evolved, start attending
networking events. Becoming a member of your local chamber will probably give
you access to a whole host of networking events throughout the year. If not,
reach out on social media for ways to grow your network.
Brian Cleary is the Chief Executive of Clonmel Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest
business services organizations in Ireland. He’s also the past director of
Chambers Ireland. He writes for a number of online publications and is a
regular co-presenter of the 'Small Business Show' a syndicated radio program
broadcast on a number of stations throughout Ireland and available as a
As a recognized business leader in Kelowna, I was invited to participate in a Canadian Chamber of Commerce Energy Tour that provided an in-depth opportunity to hear from a good cross section of energy companies and actually go on mine sites in Fort McMurray.
My perceptions on the opportunity, constraints and threats to this economic behemoth as it relates to our local community and to Canada are as follows;
I agree with the views of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Rather than being seen as a negative force, the oil sands or other major natural resource developments (including mining, forestry and energy) Canadians must view these projects as generational opportunities for economic growth. We must leverage and harness their development to maximize economic opportunity today and for future generations.
The twelve companies I met on my trip had something in common beyond oil sands, the staff demonstrated pride in the work they do and are professionals in their field, most career oil production people. The commitment to working under the strictest federal government regulations and their passion for improving environmental conditions was evident and credible.
Between 1990 and 2012, GHG emissions associated with every barrel of oil sands crude produced were reduced by 28%. Today, Canada's oil sands only account for 0.13% of the entire world's GHG emissions.
I saw evidence of environmental collaboration, as oil sands companies have formed OSIA,Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. Through COSIA, participating companies capture, develop and share the most innovative approaches and best thinking to improve environmental performance in the oil sands, focusing on four Environmental Priority Areas (EPAs) - tailings, water, land and greenhouse gases. There is collaboration and transparent exchange that is reducing environmental impacts and costs of production. Both are positives to us as consumers.
Petroleum exporters are also making great strides in reducing their environmental footprint.
It was clear to me personally, that for transporting oil safely for long distances, pipelines are unmatched in their safety performances. In fact I feel very strongly that Canada needs to export oil products to Asia markets. I would much rather have Canada extracting and shipping oil with our strict regulatory conditions than, Asia purchasing from countries with less than stellar safety records or government instability. We all use products derived from oil every day, from plastic cellular cases, to computers and tires for our bikes or shoes on our feet. Let's get real, the world needs oil to make products and move the products to stores and homes.
Apparently, Canada's role as a responsible innovator in commodity production is matched by the resources sector's ability to pay good wages. Mining, oil and gas extraction wages flow back to every province as do the workers that call B.C. home. Resource jobs produced up to 15 times more value for Canada's economy than the average job. Recent talk of raising minimum wages would be moot points if people searching for real raises identified fields that create the most value, and then search out the training needed.
Manufacturers play a critical role in this development. In 2010, B.C. manufacturers sold over $6 billion worth of high tech products and services into the development and operation of Alberta's oil sands. It is a large and growing portion of sales for many sectors and many companies - especially those manufacturing machinery and equipment, steel and steel products, and construction equipment. And these opportunities are being felt right across the country in every province and region including here in the Okanagan.
Canadian manufacturers can focus their attention on how can continue to grow their sales into the oil sands and capture more of these opportunities.
As a first step, Canada's manufacturers must understand the specific opportunities that oil sands development offers them. Second, governments, oil sands producers and manufacturers must work much more closely together to improve domestic supply chains and to make them more efficient.
Perhaps most importantly, we must all work together to ensure that Canadians fully understand and appreciate the economic importance of natural resource development, and specifically Alberta's oil sands, to ensure their development continues responsibility and is not unnecessary restricted.
Canada's forest product producers are also constantly adapting to service the world's marketplace.
As the Forest Products Association of Canada said recently, business as usual is no longer an option. The industry employs more than 235,000 Canadians and plans to renew its workforce by 2020. It's also one of Canada's most innovative and sustainable sectors. This sector too is demonstrating environmental responsibility. In fact, a recent report found Canada has only a .2% deforestation rate while also leading the world in forest product exports.
I urge you to consider this. Ensure that your opinions are based on today's facts. Today's oil sands do not resemble the first mining foray.Today's natural resource industries, are responsible, transparent, motivated to reduce emissions and lower environmental impacts. They are also critical to our economic future. I stand behind the technology and the knowledge that leads Canadian resource development.
-Caroline Grover, CEO, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
The Province is expanding its fight against invasive mussels with a $1.3-million boost toward early detection and rapid response.
Although these invasive species have never been detected in British Columbia, this program expansion increases protection of B.C.'s lakes and rivers against the threat of quagga and zebra mussels.
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront at the federal and provincial level calling for this type of action to prevent an economic and ecological crisis of our lakes
"The Chamber supports the efforts of the Okanagan Water Basin Board in increasing public and governments awareness of the serious threat this has to BC and the Okanagan." States Ken Carmichael, President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
"This is another step in our government's ongoing efforts to prevent invasive mussels from becoming established in B.C.," says Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. "I encourage all recreational boaters to familiarize themselves with the 'Clean, Drain, Dry' program so they can also do their part."
The strengthened invasive mussel defence program begins operations in April for the 2015 boating season and consists of:
Through this program, teams will inspect and, if necessary, decontaminate boats entering B.C. from Alberta. They also will respond to boats from the U.S. identified as a concern by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as U.S. partner agencies. Each crew will be equipped with mobile self-contained decontamination units.
The teams will consist of trained auxiliary conservation officers coming from university compliance training programs offered by Vancouver Island University, providing valuable experience for students and recent graduates.
Twenty-four new highway signs featuring the Clean, Drain, Dry program are also being installed at significant entry points into the province.
Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, pose a significant threat to B.C.'s and Canada's freshwater ecosystems. These mussels threaten native species and fisheries in lakes and rivers. They clog water intake pipes, leading to increased maintenance costs for hydroelectric, domestic water, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities.
Since the Bank of Canada lowered interest rates as
“insurance” against the risk of a sharper downturn,
many have been asking: How long will it take for the
fall in oil prices to impact the broader economy and
how severe will the slowdown be? What will it mean
for Canadian business?
Canada’s fourth-quarter GDP growth came in at a
brisk 2.4%, which looks pretty good, but when we
examine where the growth came from, there is cause
for concern. Household consumption was OK, but
exports and business investment both declined.
Instead, you can see in the adjacent graph that the
biggest contributor, accounting for three quarters of
the rise in GDP is inventories.
A sharp rise in inventory can be caused by businesses
stocking up in anticipation of stronger sales in the
future or, alternatively, if a sharp deterioration in
demand leaves unwanted stock. What’s the likelihood
that business was stocking up in anticipation of a
bonanza at the end of 2014? Not very good. Instead,
we’ve heard anecdotally that companies in the oil
patch were hit with a particularly sharp drop in sales,
and the concerns are broad-based with the auto sector
accounting for a big part of rising inventories.
There are three reasons we’re expecting a significant
slowdown in Canada. Firstly, the big declines in
capital expenditure have not yet been seen in the
broader economy. Remember that oil prices remained
above $75 until the middle of November and only fell
into the $50 range in December. There were many
announcements of cutbacks at the end of 2014 but
these will not be seen in operations on the ground until
the first half of 2015, a point confirmed by many
service providers in the energy industry.
Secondly, consumption looks soft as retail sales fell by
1.7% in January, signs that consumers are staying
home. Also, that big boost from inventories will
reverse and become negative in the quarters ahead as
the closures of Target, Mexx, Jacob and Sony subtract
billions from the inventory tally this year.
Thirdly, it is true that many manufacturing industries
are seeing a boost in sales from the weaker loonie and
a stronger U.S. economy. Canada’s auto sector and
aerospace industry exports have been particularly
stellar. However, oil and gas accounts for 24% of
Canadian exports, and those prices have fallen by half.
It will take a long time before manufacturing can
compensate for a 12% hit to Canadian exports.
Canada’s domestic economy has a hit a soft patch, so
we should be braced for bad news in the first half of
2015. Overall GDP growth should come in around
1.8% this year, and Canadian businesses will have to
focus more than ever on exports if they want to
maintain the strong growth rates we’ve seen. In the
meantime, it looks like we may need that insurance.