Small business is the backbone of British Columbia employing 1 million workers or 40% of the working population and accounts for 33% of the GDP. By definition small business is a business of fewer than 50 employees. In 2015, 79% of these 388,500 small businesses employed less than 5 employees. They provide the day-to-day goods and services that our communities rely on.
Contrary to what people might believe, entrepreneurs who venture off in their own businesses are not rich, many earning less than they would working for someone else. They have sacrificed a regular paycheck and perhaps benefits to provide a needed product or service to the community. They may have had an economic pressure to start the business as it was the quickest way to get back into employment if they were unemployed, or they may have seen an opportunity to provide a product or service not currently available in the community.
There are no grants available for small business. You are basically on your own from a financial perspective. If you have had a connection to Employment Insurance in the past 5 years you may be eligible to participate in the self-employment program through WorkBC, which will give you basic training into the process of starting your own business and potentially give you access to some living expenses while starting the business as well as mentoring. You must have cash or in-kind towards the business in the amount of 25% (roughly $3500) of what you would receive as living expenses over the 48 weeks of the program.
So. Where do they need a hand up?
If you meet the same requirement of being on EI within the past 5 years, you are eligible to apply for trades training. If approved and eligible, you can get the course paid for as well as living expenses while you take the course. Trades training may involve apprenticeships which have grants and stepped training intervals over 4 or 5 years. The amount of money and support potentially far exceeds that available for small business.
Small business, in my opinion, needs to have the same level of funding and support as is available for those in trades training. They need stepped training in the different aspects of business (Bookkeeping, marketing, human resources, etc.) so that they will be less likely to fail. After all, small business may be the employer for the up and coming trades apprentice!
Programs need to be developed by talking to the clients, those who receive the services. Find out what is missing or what would enhance the likelihood of success. Small business is too important to ignore, they are the backbone of the economy in British Columbia. Let’s support them!
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