It’s a frustrating stereotype but it’s getting much, much better. “Small business” is no longer a cynical negative. On the contrary! “Small business” has become a dynamic source of pride and positivity.
“Small business is the cornerstone of the Canadian economy,” says the enthusiastic Sandip Lalli, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber. “Small business creates the majority of the jobs in Canada. The owners of these businesses are passionate, driven, and motivated individuals who spend their days working and their nights planning.”
Teresa Clouston, executive vice-president, ATB Financial, who is very plugged in to the success of Alberta small businesses, echoes the new understanding and perceptions. “About 96 per cent of Alberta businesses are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. They are important job creators. They are also fertile ground for new products and services and, in turn, for diversification of the economy.
“Small businesses are where entrepreneurial activity tends to find a home. When one small business succeeds, the whole community tends to benefit from the boost to the local economy.”
Lalli underscores the value and importance of small businesses, particularly in the Calgary business market. “Small businesses pack a big economic punch and they are invariably agile and quick to adapt to change and new opportunities.
“Although officially we define a small business as one with less than 100 employees, they are much better defined by their business culture. They are driven, tenacious, goal-orientated, and willing to take the odd risk,” she smiles.
As Clouston points out, while the planning and the decision to launch a small business can be both exciting and challenging, navigating the speedbumps of a small business is laced with pros and cons.
“When I meet with business owners, the frequent pro-side is the ability to be nimble in terms of how they operate and adapt more quickly to challenges, like Alberta’s downturn. “On the con side, most small businesses are already pretty lean operations and they may not have much room to cut costs or options to focus on growing their operations and diversifying.”
Her common take-away recommendation for small businesses? Cash flow. “Cash flow is critical for small business success. Cash flow management is all about monitoring and managing how and when cash flows in and out of a business and avoiding shortfalls, minimizing expenses and maximizing returns.”
Lalli and the Chamber team are focused on the planning and the many details of Calgary’s upcoming Small Business Week, particularly this year’s two marquee events: the Small Business Calgary Expo on October 18 and the awards gala on October 19.
“The Expo will encourage networking for small business people to get inspired and learn from other small business owners and service providers, as well as seeing valuable exhibitors and participating in interactive learning labs,” Lalli explains.
The awards gala will recognize the finalists and winners of the Small Business Calgary Awards.
Last year’s ATB Small Business of the Year Award winner was ROSSO Coffee Roasters. As a gung-ho and successful Calgary small business owner, Cole Torode, ROSSO’s partner and director of coffee, admits that, “One of the challenges is efficiently figuring out budgets and how to allocate capital. It’s tempting to bite off more than you can chew. Figuring out where the time and the capital to fund these ideas will come from can be stressful. However, the greatest reward of being a small business and of Small Business Week, is meeting other like-minded people who are going through the same battles and sharing motivation, because we’re all going through this together.”