The Saskatoon Region economy is one of the most diversified economies in the country. The backbone of this diverse economy is an army of small businesses.
Earlier this year, SREDA released an insights piece on the impact small businesses have on the local economy. According to the Statistics Canada Business Register, 99.8% of all Saskatchewan businesses fall in the small or medium category, while only 0.2% (87 businesses) are classified as large.
“With entrepreneurship on the rise and a new generation of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs launching new companies, there is no doubt small businesses will continue to have a significant impact on the local economy,” said Alex Fallon, President and CEO of SREDA.
“The increase for entrepreneurial support has been steadily increasing at Square One. This past quarter alone we saw a 25 percent increase in requests compared to 2015,” said DonnaLyn Thorsteinson, Senior Director at Square One.
To celebrate Small Business Week, SREDA’s Square One program will be hosting free seminars on a variety of business topics all week.
“The response to our Small Business Week seminars was overwhelming. We sold out earlier this month and added more seminars to fill the demand,” said Thorsteinson.
2015 was an interesting year for the economy. Coming off several years of extraordinary growth, we saw some challenges in the energy section, reduced commodity prices and a slowdown in the construction industry. However, the Saskatoon economy managed to weather the storm pretty well. SREDA looks forward to 2016 with optimism, albeit somewhat cautious optimism, for the Saskatoon region economy. We believe Saskatoon’s diverse economy, continued demand for our natural resources, ongoing and new infrastructure projects and a growing entrepreneurial spirit leave us well positioned for growth in 2016 and into the future.
SREDA is forecasting GDP growth of approximately 2% next year, with the majority of the growth happening in the second half of the year. We will continue to see increases in both population and employment and expect the unemployment rate to remain in the 5-6% range.
At SREDA, our focus for 2016 will be to continue to help grow the region’s economy by attracting new businesses, helping local companies expand, supporting entrepreneurship, marketing the region, providing economic analysis and leading regional economic development planning. We also have high hopes for the Saskatoon Aboriginal Employment Partnership in which we play a lead role.
I hope our community continues to realize that there are few better places in the world than the Saskatoon region to live, work and prosper. We wish all residents and businesses another successful year.
For more info about the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA), please visit www.sreda.com. Square One is a division of SREDA.
Generation Y consumers were born in the early 80s through the late 90s. Known also as Millennials, this group has often been identified as the most tech-savvy and engaged generation due to its constant access to technology. When developing a product or service geared toward this demographic, keep in mind that Millennials rely on technology like no other group in history.
Social media is king with this group; since this demographic is on social media, make sure you are too. Millennials are likely to:
- Read reviews and ratings found on social media channels. Generation Y tends to seek out the advice or opinion of members of their peer group rather than that of their parents.
- Need quick answers from you. Implementing a chat feature on your website or creating an app will make it easier for Millennials to communicate with you and your business.
- Visit and use your website if it is easy to use and popular products are in stock. A useful website goes a long way towards building loyalty. This will benefit not only this group, but your whole client base.
- Read blogs on shared topics of interest. Let them know that your business cares about the same things that they believe are important.
- Leave you kudos on a job well done or an honest review of a bad interaction — this may have a big impact on selecting who they might do business with in the future.
When developing a marketing plan for your business, you may want to consult with members of your staff that represent or understand the particular needs and wants of this group. Consider implementing or upgrading your technology offerings to meet the needs of Generation Y. This can be done in a variety of ways.
- Create a username and password system that automatically saves payment information.
- Offer a variety of payment options such as debit or a mobile point of sale if your business is mobile.
- Ensure that you offer your business’ contact information or chat feature on every page of your website.
As with all generational groups, Millennials are more likely to do business with companies that think like they do. Make sure that you advertise your point of view on several important issues.
- Is your business inclusive?
- Is your business socially responsible? Include pictures of your business at community events in your social media feeds.
- What is your business doing to make a difference in your community and in the world at large?
- Dedicate a portion of your website to publicizing your business’ mission statement or consider using crowdsourcing to gather ideas and input from your potential customers.
In the end, showing Millennials, or Generation Y, that your business is “walking the talk” will inspire confidence in your business and can offer you more opportunity for growth.
Roshan is a Saskatchewan entrepreneur who focuses on new creative projects. He has helped build start-ups from zero to a million dollars in revenue, a member of a digital marketing co-operative, and is an advocate for small business Saskatchewan. In addition Roshan is the co-author of the internationally published, award winning book, The New Rockstar Philosophy, that has been called the bible for modern musicians. Roshan has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Marketing, with over 12 years of Marketing and Strategy experience.
1. Discuss yourself, your businesses and what it is like to be an entrepreneur. Why did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
I am a part of two ventures. The first is Unite Digital Marketing, a cooperative. We develop marketing strategy, graphic design, video production, campaign strategy and websites and print. We are a co-operative because everyone can work together if they want to but we can also work individually. We’ve worked with Affinity Credit Union, Federated Co-op, The Sask Health Region, and a whole bunch of smaller organizations.
Sasklandia is a new project that we’re starting with the help of Square One and small businesses, and it’s about 95% done! It will eventually take the form of app for to entice people to buy from locally owned businesses. How it works is local businesses can offer an “incentive” for coming into the store. We call them handshakes and they do not necessarily have to be a discount or deal. Sasklandia also helps people find which businesses are local. We are working with the Saskatchewan Government to implement a buy local day, just to get people thinking about it more. Right now we have an email sign up for consumers and eventually they will receive a card to present at the stores they visit. Soon businesses can sign up – it’s free for the first three months – and post their handshake which can be changed anytime you want, You can post handshakes for the public, but we encourage handshakes that are only applicable to cardholders of Sasklandia, so you track to see if the Sasklandia incentive is actually working!
At one point I was an employee, and I wouldn’t go back. If you want freedom and independence be an entrepreneur, but it’s not for everybody. the cash flow is never regular, you have to do a lot of things – accounting, sales, manage people, and be accountable to the promises you make. I chose to be an entrepreneur because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. I wanted more control.
2. How do you promote your business and mitigate risks as a freelancer?
Word of mouth is working now, but at first it was cold calling or I knew someone in the organization that knew some etc. I use my network of people and we work with other co-ops and socially conscious organizations. We’re focusing on these markets because it seems to be paying off. I’ve saved two years’ worth of personal expenses, so if things go wrong, I would be okay for a while. Also, keeping costs down – do I need an office? Do I need to print? It’s important to think about business necessities versus luxuries. Lastly, diversification! I am always looking to invest in new markets.
3. How do you get the word out about Sasklandia and your other businesses? Who do you sell your ideas to?
Depends on who you’re talking to. No one likes a dude that’s always selling. Let them talk, find out what they are interested.
4. You are the co-author of an internationally published book, The New Rockstar Philosophy. Can the theories be applied across all industries?
It focuses on the music industry, but parts of the book are applicable to all industries For example, the first part is about knowing who you are. Also, there’s also discussions about how the rules always change, managing cashflow and how a plan you had 10 years ago may not work today.
5. Do you have any partnerships? Why are partnerships a good thing for entrepreneurs?
It’s all partnerships. It’s good and bad – good because there are things that your partners do that you can’t do. You can discuss various perspectives and share costs. It’s bad because you give up decision making, not all, but there’s more compromise. You can’t do what you want all the time. You have to include everybody.
6. Do you have any mentors? Why should entrepreneurs have mentors?
John Hunt – He lives the life I want to live. He’s on top of new technology and always knows what’s up and coming. He knows more about new technology than a lot of people younger than him. Also my last employer, the founder of Tiny Eye Inc., gave me a lot of great advice. I love reading blogs and books. My bible is Timothy Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Workweek. The Lean Start Up, by Eric Ries is great as well and talks about how to keep costs down in the first few years of business. Seth Godin is great for marketing tips.
If you get a mentor, then you need to know what you don’t know and keep in mind it’s a two way relationship. Mentors do not know everything, but they experience stuff before you do and their advice is worth listening to. . Many people think that mentor-protégé relationship is about the mentor giving advice, but that’s not true. The mentor has questions and will listen to the protégé.
7. If you could give entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you have an idea, lots of people will shoot it down. You will definitely hit obstacles and there is no way around that. So instead of fearing and trying to get around them, welcome them as different bosses. As long as you have cash, you’re in the game. If you don’t have cash, then find a way to get cash. And for me, I just want to have a good time. It’s not always about the profits. If you’re in business for the sake of being in business, that’s cool too, but it’s important to have other goals.
Manpreet Sangha is a true supporter of small business in Saskatchewan. As an Economic Development Officer at the Estevan Chamber of Commerce, a diversified, member driver network of business striving to improve the business climate and community well-being, Manpreet promotes the facilitation and growth of economic development in her community and Saskatchewan, and specializes in business retention and expansion, such as facilitating expansion, real estate and development solutions.
1. Tell us about yourself and the Estevan Chamber of Commerce.
The Estevan Chamber of Commerce is a diversified, member-driven network of businesses striving to improve the business climate and community well-being. As the voice of Estevan’s business community, the Estevan Chamber of Commerce provides its members with a direct line of communication to municipal, provincial and federal political leaders. It is committed to fostering growth in your community and working for the benefit of its membership. It holds membership with both the Saskatchewan and Canadian Chambers of Commerce. I work as the Economic Development Officer with the Estevan Chamber of Commerce.
2. What do you do as an Economic Development Officer? How does your position assist the development of the economy and entrepreneurs? How do you help entrepreneurs and small business owners?
The City of Estevan, R.M. of Estevan #5 and the Estevan Chamber of Commerce are committed to promoting the growth and development of the community, and improving the quality of life for all citizens. My position involves business retention and expansion. This includes facilitating real estate and development solutions, providing customized solutions on various issues such as expansion, location and outsourcing and facilitating business linkages and introductions. Business attraction is another area of focus. This is achieved by promoting Estevan as a place to do business, providing relocation and site selection services, providing information regarding municipal permitting, licensing and taxation. Database is maintained about the local and regional industry information. The Chamber helps the entrepreneurs by guiding them in the right direction and providing contacts of the right people. It addresses the concerns of the local businesses. Workforce development is focused through providing linkages to immigration services and coordinating the labour attraction strategies.
3. What do you find most exciting about the Saskatchewan economy right now?
The growth and rate of growth is exciting for the province of Saskatchewan. Infrastructural development throughout the province is worth mentioning. It is good to see the increase in the population and one of the lowest unemployment rate across the country.
4. What would you like to see in the future as we move into a new year? What are some challenges that you see either in Estevan or Saskatchewan in terns on economic development and small business?
We would like to address the issue of skilled labour force to help businesses in the long run.
5. How did resources like Square One help your organization?
Square one has been a great resource for the updated information about the economy of Estevan. All the statistics are provided in a timely manner. Square One has a wealth of resources. It helps the prospective investors by providing complete information about the economy and thereby helps in assessing the needs of the market.
Jolene Watson is the President of Clarity Coaching & Development. She is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI®) Certified Practitioner and uses the assessments to provide insights to couples and individuals on a personal and professional basis. Jolene is also a Performance Consultant and Sales Associate with Dale Carnegie Training and is currently in the process of becoming an instructor for the ‘Effective Communications and Human Relations’ course.
1. Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur? How did you end up in the field of coaching and development?
It was very interesting; I had never considered starting my own business until I attended a trade show and met with a career counsellor from CanSask. She recommended that I start my own business and told me about the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship. My start-up experience was supported by the incredible instructors at Praxis who taught the hard and soft skills required to successfully run a business. I would recommend the program for anyone who is considering starting a business. As new entrepreneurs there are so many factors that we don’t consider; Praxis holds you accountable in many areas including but not limited to: business planning, break-even analysis, bookkeeping, financial forecasting and goal setting.
I have worked in management and human resource roles in a variety of industries. I have also been responsible for performance reviews. These roles are where I learned that I loved working with people.
2. Why do people buy your services? What competitive advantage do you have that your competitors lack?
I use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and am certified to do so. It is one of the original personality profile tools and is used in most fortune 100 companies. There is 70 years of research behind the reports and the career reports are always being updated to reflect our current culture and now include areas such as social confidence and leadership potential. My personality type is ENFJ and two of the top chosen professions for my particular type are career coaching and teaching. My market research data acquired from Square One showed that people were looking for flexibility and mobility in my industry. I meet clients in the comfort of their own home, my office or a coffee shop of their choice. Also, my career consultations are highly customizable.
3. Who do you sell to? How do you communicate with your client base?
Primarily female, age 20-39; however, 30% of my clients currently are men. I work with individuals and couples as well as clients are looking at new career options; this can include those who want to switch careers or students who are deciding on an initial career path. Networking is my main source of advertising as most of my clients are from word of mouth.
4. How do you learn about your clients? How do you get them to trust you?
Once I know what their type is, I know how to coach them. For people who are planners for example, I know they will do their research on time because that is their nature. For those who are more spontaneous, I do set deadlines and hold them accountable. I often find that I need more time when I meet with extraverts as they tend to talk more in the initial meeting while introverts tend to reflect and ask questions at a later date. I always review the reports extensively before interpreting them; the results are incredibly accurate. This creates a high level of trust and credibility with my clients.
5. The nature of your industry is to assist people to grow, so how do you get them to implement the strategies that you provide? What are some ways that entrepreneurs can inspire their customers in any industry?
Accountability. I always follow up with my clients to ensure the research has been completed and to answer any questions. I think entrepreneurs can inspire their customers by providing a high level of customer service. Also, every entrepreneur should have a trusted network around them to refer their clients to; we should focus on the areas in which we excel.
6. Do you have any partnerships? If so, what made your decide to form an alliance? Why are partnerships a powerful strategy for small businesses?
I recently connected with Laurie-ann Sheldrick who owns Contagiously Positive. She is an ENFJ – like me! She is a life and health coach; we are going to team up in the New Year and develop workshops together. We have the same mindset on professional development and positivity. Entrepreneurs wear a lot of hats such as marketing, bookkeeping, management and customer service; having others who support your business and who are like-minded can be instrumental to your success. We need to help each other as entrepreneurs.
7. What counts that you are not counting? What are the intangible assets that cannot be measured, but truly differentiate your business?
My love for always wanting to grow and expand and my desire to meet my customer’s needs.
8. Do you have any mentors or role models? If so, how do they contribute to your success? Why are mentors and role models important for entrepreneurs to have?
Monica Kreuger and the teachers at Praxis School of Entrepreneurship have been instrumental in Clarity’s launch and continual development. Linda Prafke at Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan is my business advisor and I meet with her on a monthly basis; she has also been an unbelievable resource. Don Ramage of Focal Point Business Coaching is another incredible mentor of mine through the Raj Manek Mentorship Program. By having a mentor or role model, we can avoid mistakes and gain valuable information from learning from their experience; it’s important to have someone to confide in.
9. How do you mitigate risks and plan for contingencies?
Developing worst case scenarios in the business plan, and finding ways to either solve or avoid those scenarios. Often, if you don’t have a vision, you don’t know where you are going; goal-setting is very important. When I first started out I offered six services, and now I have streamlined them down to three. Business depends on the market so it’s important to be flexible with the ever-changing market.
10. How did the resources in the community help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals?
Praxis School of Entrepreneurship helped me with the incubation stage of Clarity. Square One helped me out with the industry profile and market research required for my business plan. I was also able to look at sample business plans which were an incredible resource when I was creating my own. I also attended various seminars, which were extremely valuable to me as new business owner.
11. If you could give entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
Do what you love and follow your passion! Also, in the Personality Profile realm, remember the platinum rule – the opposite of the Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as they would want done unto them’. We as entrepreneurs must truly and genuinely understand our clients in order to succeed in business.
Clarity Coaching & Development empowers motivated individuals to make effective decisions that align with their values and goals. The assessments are customized and presented in a professional manner to help clients understand themselves and others. These assessments allow people to be more organized, advance their careers, increase productivity and communicate more clearly.
Candace Ippolito is a co-owner of SaskMade Marketplace in Saskatoon. She has a degree agriculture and has experience as a primary producer with her 3rd generation family farm. Her and her partners have been in business together for 4 years and have recently expanded their store.
- 1. Why did you chose to be an entrepreneur? What was your start-up experience like and what made you decide to expand?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. We made our own decisions and had the freedom to operate as we wanted to. Personally, I love to problem solve, grow in a creative way and help others grow. My business partners and I bought SaskMade Marketplace four years ago and we were able to refocus the vision and rebrand the store. We all have a background in agriculture and primary production, and we all love food. So we were able to combine our skills and interests with market demands. I wanted to be able to tell the story of our vendors with confidence and put products in my store that are unique and value-added, and are more than a commodity.
I live in Regina, so sometimes the distance can be hard on the store, but I have a capable team. You have to empower your staff. You can’t look at the small stuff. I look at the “big business” picture, not if that floors are clean or if the shelves are stocked. That’s my staff’s responsibility and I need to empower them to do it, get out of their way and let them be successful.
This is our second year with a pop up store in Regina over the Christmas season and our first year trying a pop up store in the Mall at Lawson Heights in Saskatoon. We are planning on opening a store in Regina in 2015 and the pop-up gave us a way to test the market without commitment. My goal is to have the biggest local retail footprint in Saskatchewan.
- 2. Why do people buy your product? What competitive advantage do you have that your competitors lack?
Our products are local treasures. If it’s rare, unique, locally made, and manufactured or value added in Saskatchewan, we have it. Also, we like to consider ourselves an education centre, our staff know where our products are from, some are even good friends with the vendors, so I know, with confidence, what I am selling.Buying local and understanding where food comes from is in my opinion, a lifestyle. Maybe it is a trend, we’ll see how long it lasts, but I don’t think it is. Also people have changed their buying patterns and are researching before they buy, and I think food falls into that, so we respect that our consumers are conscientious. Lastly, we have positioned ourselves as a gift store. We do corporate baskets and other gifts with a high level of customization. We want to be a partner, not a transaction. We are propagating other local businesses.
- 3. Who do you sell to? How do you communicate with your customer base?
Primarily females. Baby boomers, because of scratch cooking and nostalgia. And Millennials, because they like to buy on virtues and ideas. We also have our online store. We have shipped products to U.S, China, South Africa, Japan, Germany, Poland, and Australia, and other places. Some people are expatriates who want the flavour of home and some are past tourists. We like to communicate with our customers all the time through social media. We have a recipe centre, and Twitter and Facebook where people are sharing their experience and asking if we can carry what they are looking for. Most of it is word of mouth, that’s a huge factor.
- 4. How do you learn about your customers? Do you know what brings them into your store?
We have a list of requests. You just need to listen to what the customer is asking for. Secondly, we are all foodies here, so we have a lot of taste tasting and sampling in the store. Before we bring products in, our team tries them to for quality. Also, my team cares. They care about the vendors and the customers.
- 5. How do you mitigate risk and maximize reward?
As a small business, we are nimble and can make quick decisions. We have a business plan and a detailed budget, and we monitor and conduct quarterly checks. So we actually measure what we do regularly and make adjustments as we see fit. Another way we mitigate risk and maximize reward at the same time is by being connected, whether it is resources like Square One, or personal resources. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Take a step back and evaluate your network and their life experiences. Think of them strategically, and without a doubt, reciprocate. Collaboration is key. A strength of ours is building a plan and executing. You have got to follow through. Even if you think that it won’t give you the rewards you’re looking for, complete the task and learn from it.
- 6. What prevents you from implementing change? What factors keep you from changing your business?
Typically money. We have a budget. It’s about compromising and seeing if we are willing to take funds from one opportunity and move it to another area. If we don’t have the funds or are not willing to compromise, then maybe it’s not the best opportunity. Also, intuition. If you’re an entrepreneur, some decisions are based on intuition.
- 7. Have you joined forces with other local businesses in order to achieve common goals? Why did you decide that a partnership would be a good thing?
Currently we have strategic alliances with Tourism Saskatoon, Tourism Saskatchewan, and the Ministry of Agriculture. I’m a big believer in reciprocating business. That’s how you grow. If I work with an insurance agency, and all of the store’s insurance is bought there, they would reciprocate buy buying their corporate gift baskets from us, and not from a huge grocery chain. I want to deal with partners, and collaborate. I do not want to be a transaction.
- 8. What counts that you are not counting?
Integrity and how people perceive or store and the people involved. This means following through with what we say we will do, and being honest with our clients and delivering to the best of our ability.
- 9. What was the most pivotal discovery or situation that directed you towards your success?
I don’t think there was a specific moment. There were tidbits of information that pulled us through. For example, when the Ministry of Agricultural started ordering gift baskets from us. Just little winds that encouraged us and let us know we were on the right track and need to keep moving forward.
- 10. Do you have any mentors or role models? How do they contribute to your success and attitude towards your business?
My family. We are farmers, so being an entrepreneur was instinctively there. The mentors and role models have changed over time. Of course, Brett Wilson, he’s dreamy and fantastic. My business partner, April, is my biggest fan, and we are each other’s sounding boards. I have many good friends that are invested in my success and are always willing to help out when needed. I am really lucky that way! But also others who are doing well in Canada. There are a lot of successful women in agricultural, and a lot of successful people in Saskatchewan. Look to your network. Learn from your network.
- 11. Describe the entrepreneurial path to potential entrepreneurs.
Scary! Challenging. But definitely rewarding. You have to be all in.
Tonic | a Shop for Women
122 2nd Ave North
802B 10th Street (off Broadway)
And an online store:
Square One recently sat down with established business owner Roxanne Woodley to gain her insight on being an entrepreneur. Roxanne is the founder and owner of Tonic | A shop for women. Planet S has voted Tonic as the best place for women to shop since 2008.
1. Describe your business and what services it offers.
Tonic is a retail women’s store with two locations: 122 2nd Ave South and 802B 10th Street (off Broadway). We specialize in clothing, accessories and giftware. In addition, we now offer an online store, Farminista.
2. What inspired you to start your own business?
I was inspired by shopping in other cities. I saw a niche market for a women’s dress shop in Saskatoon at that time. I knew that people would be interested in what we had to offer. We were not just about dresses but also unique pieces and accessories.
3. How did using the Canadian Business Network benefit you in developing your business?
They helped in writing my business plans. They were able to provide stats on spending habits for specific neighborhoods. In addition, they also helped with navigating ISC for registering my business and incorporating.
4. What Advice would you give to potential entrepreneurs?
Your business plan is very important. Reassess or rewrite your business plan every year because your goals could change or the market could shift. Business people are creative, even though it’s not fun look at your cash flow projection every year. Looking at your cash flow projections is key. If you don’t understand it, hire a professional.