Did you know the Small Business Accelerator is a UBC initiative? I didn’t until I met Aleha McAuley at the SOHO Business Expo last month. SBA has long been an important “cheat sheet” here at Write Ahead, giving us a great entry point for much of the research we do for our clients. Meet them at Idea to Open November 27 – and if you haven’t got your ticket yet, there’s only one day to go!
1. Who are you and what’s your company?
The Small Business Accelerator is an online initiative of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia. We are a member of the province’s largest academic library whose mandate is dedicated to lifelong learning for users at UBC and beyond. Community engagement is a key commitment of the Learning Centre.
Our online program is managed by specialized business librarians and was built form partnerships with the Simon Fraser University Library, Vancouver Public Library and David Lam Research Management Library at UBC. We’ve visited numerous BC communities and met with various business support providers to discuss the role of the SBA as a comprehensive resource for BC small businesses and collect input on how best to develop comprehensive research guides in clear, jargon-free language.
2. How do you help small business owners who are just starting out?
Starting a new business is difficult but can be well worth the effort. To help small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout BC succeed, our website offers free access to market research advice and industry information in the form of over 100 Accelerator Guides. These are invaluable resources for those breaking into a new industry and just starting out. Examples of other offerings include are a list of events specifically for small business owners and entrepreneurs, a directory of BC business support agencies and categorized list of free online business tools.
3. What do you most love about the work you do?
We are constantly inspired by great ideas we get to come across in our work. We are so fortunate that we are able to help entrepreneurs succeed by focusing their research efforts; this helps people save valuable time and empowers them to make much more informed business decisions.
4. What is your best piece of advice for would-be entrepreneurs?
Devote some energy trying to find out as much as you can about your industry, competitors and potential consumers. Do your homework and develop good research skills that will help ground you through the inevitable uncertainty that comes with starting a business.
5. What is your favourite little-known resource for entrepreneurs?
Your local librarian, of course! You find us at your local public, college or university library. In addition to providing access to business resources, including useful business databases, information professionals are tapped into their communities and are pretty great listeners. We’re a service oriented profession that exists to help you to find the information you need – so don’t be shy about coming to talk to us.
6. In your opinion, how important is planning to the success of a small business in its first year or two?
Industry Canada’s Key Business Statistics states that small and medium (>250 employees) businesses survival rates decrease over time and only 51% survive for 5 years. A well-researched plan will enable you to articulate your goals, check your assumptions and ultimately provide a framework for your success. It helps to have a road map – and a process that you revisit at regular intervals to help you stay on track in your first few years.
7. How can entrepreneurs get in touch with you to learn more?
Whether you’re looking for guidance on how to do business research or have questions about the SBA program, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us in a variety of ways: