Archive for May, 2017

How we launch #startups #salmonarm
May 7, 2017

This column first appeared in the May All Month Edition of the Friday AM.
As you read this, the latest round of Shuswap Launch-a-preneur winners will have been announced. Congratulations and sincere thanks to all those who sponsored and mentored competitors in the 2017 edition of this popular entrepreneurial initiative. 


It’s important for me that you know that in the ten weeks proceeding Thursday night’s gala event, all the teams exhibited a winning attitude in participating in 7 workshops, a sneak peek trade show at the local mall and hours and hours of preparation for their 2 and 10; a two minute pitch and a ten minute presentation. 
 
Something to consider is that business ownership and entrepreneurship is, in the grand scheme of history, a relatively new opportunity and privilege.
 
History reminds that in the Middle Ages, the rulers decided who could and couldn’t operate as a business. You might not know that, by definition, a journeyman is someone with a recognized trade who has been given permission by the ruling Monarch to journey from town to town. A brand, something we’re so fond of marketing today, was originally a symbol, on a tool, so that illiterate peasants would be able to recognize from whom they purchased their original tool when the time came to replace it. 
 
Entrepreneurship and business ownership is especially important in small communities and on that front, Salmon Arm is considered, both provincially and nationally, as a very entrepreneurial city and editorial rankings from business magazines support this. 
 
Those of you who have lived in big cities might relate to my own experience of life there. Most of my friends and colleagues worked for someone or something else. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve had where I knew my manager, but I did not know my owners; from teenage work at McDonalds, to university shifts at Eaton’s to a stint with Western Living Magazine in graduate school. Owners would fly in and fly out with little time for the employees. 
 
But in a small town, we are in business together. I can’t get through a day without relying on another small business. We are less so competitors and more so collaborators. Because we know our community and we know the job needs to get done. 
 
An important economic metric is what’s called the multiplier effect. By most accounts, the multiplier effect of a small business punches above its weight. It’s a high as 8 to 1 which means that every dollar spent is circulated locally as many as 8 times in the supplies and wages they pay. The same can’t be said for multi-nationals. Not that they don’t make an important contribution, because they do on a national level, but it isn’t quite the same.
 
Case in point, next time you go to a local fundraiser for a cause that you care about, check the logos at the bottom of the event poster. Are there multinationals supporting it? Unlikely. Not because they don’t care but because it’s a different business model run from a different place. Local business understands community in ways that multi-nationals do not. They both make significant contributions overall but the measure of support favours local business. It’s important to remember this. 
 
It’s also important to support them in return. Inclusion and partnership are key to the very thing we love and work so hard for; leisure. Their support is critical to events and projects so that we, as a community, have events and projects to enjoy in our leisure time. We work hard for leisure time. That’s the basis of the economic model; work hard to enjoy leisure. I hope you haven’t forgotten this. It’s important to find a balance wether your leisure is baseball (as it is for my husband Dave), or art and culture (as it is for me) or sports (as it is for my kids and their friends).
 
Entrepreneurs are brave souls – for whom we should all be grateful – for without their appetite for risk and reward – our community would be much weaker, as would our economy. 
 
I will say, as a now entrepreneur, there are days I shake my head and wonder why I take the risk and responsibility of being a small business owner. Will the cheque clear? Will the deadline be met? It can be very stressful. But those moments pale in comparison to the joy and pride I feel for a job well done, a fellow business made better by our work, a positive balance in my bank account and the knowledge that I make more than money. I help to build community. None of which I could do without you. None of which I could have done had I not moved to Salmon Arm going on twenty years ago. 
So to the new batch of Launch-a-preneur businesses, make sure you carve out time for your own well being and leisure. And to those of who enjoy the hard-earned privilege of leisure time as a result of your work, please make sure you carve out time to support our brave local businesses.
 
I am fond of saying that team work makes the dream work. Congrats to all.  I have total faith in you. And if you find yourself a bit short on that front, please reach out. We’ve got more than enough to go around.