The above photograph features Kathy Buckworth opening her maternity & baby clothing store in Calgary, Sept 1993. Grandad, baby Alex and toddler Victoria helping out.
The idea of starting a small business is daunting to many. Yet, every year, an estimated 100,000 small businesses open up shop in Canada. In 1993, I was one of those people. With a newborn in one arm and a two-year-old clutching the other, I opened a baby and maternity consignment clothing store in Calgary, called “baby baby”. While I had given birth to my son five weeks before the doors opened, the idea to open this store had been born many years before. Circumstances conspired that this was the best time to take the plunge. But I was worried…is there ever a best time?
Did I know everything I needed to know? Was I really ready?
Flash forward almost 20 years, and Avery Swartz, CEO and Founder of Camp Tech (which offers beginner-friendly, hands-on workshops for adults who want to learn practical tech skills), had similar fears. “My biggest fears when starting my business were all around the things I didn’t know,” she says. “I don’t have a business background, so there were so many unknowns for me about finances, bookkeeping and accounting, and the legal side of business.”
The fears that small business owners face when starting up haven’t changed all that much through the decades, and there are a variety of ways to try to overcome them. I alleviated some of mine by taking a small business start-up program at a local college. Swartz took a slightly different tack to bolster her knowledge. “I did as much research as I could. The Government of Canada has some great online resources for people starting businesses,” she says. She also got a business coach, whom she’s now been meeting with monthly for over six years.
Support for small business comes in many forms. Says Swartz of her business coach: “She had successfully launched and sold her own small business, so I knew I could trust her. She’s coached me through every step and made the fear of starting a new business much more manageable.”
Another great small business resource I relied upon 20 years ago for ongoing support and an understanding of the Canadian entrepreneur is still around today, and even better. From technology to display units, software to a sign that says “Open”, Staples Canada had what I needed, when I needed it, not only for the business launch but for ongoing support.
Logistically, with two young children and a business I was running single-handedly six days a week (and remembering that, back in the 90s, there was no such thing as online shopping) I needed a one-stop small business shop for everything from printing to price tags. Staples became my own ‘business partner’.
Experience and understanding are key features in finding your own small business support system. While I closed the doors to my own store many years ago to start my writing career, my most constant business partner remains now just a click away (at Staples.ca) to provide me with all of the materials I need to keep moving forward for the next 20 years.
This is a sponsored post. Opinions are, as always, my own.