Looking back to when we first opened our doors in January 2018, and reflecting on our journey since then, we feel incredibly fortunate to have had the support of many local organizations that have provided us with help, support, and encouragement. Really, we couldn’t have done it without drawing on the larger community of local entrepreneurs, and both the public and private organizations in Oakville whose aim it is to see small business succeed.
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely career path but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re running a small business, or thinking about jumping into the world of entrepreneurship, get to know these organizations and especially the committed people working in them. They are there to support the small business sector in our area and can be the difference between your business being a success or a failure.
If you’re lucky enough to be located in a “Business Improvement Area,” your BIA office is a must-get-to-know. BIAs work to collaborate, extend market reach, and connect their members to one another. There are three BIAs in Oakville – Downtown, Bronte and Kerr Village – and they’re all awesome.
HALTON SMALL BUSINESS CENTRE
The Halton SBC is a treasure trove of supports for entrepreneurs. They run many learning programs to increase your technical and strategic business skills. “You get what you pay for” is often true – but in this case it’s not. The programming at the Small Business Centre is both low-cost (or free) and excellent.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA (BDC)
BDC offers various financing and funding options to small and medium-sized companies. They’re also a great source for strategic advice. We’ve had the chnace to partner with BDC to bring educational programs to our members, and they’ve always been a super informative resource.
DIGITAL MAIN ST
Digital Main St. is a grant program offered by the province of Ontario to support small businesses to incorporate digital assets into their business operations. They also offer useful free webinars. This has been a fantastic resource for ACE as we have continued to digitize more and more of our operational and marketing functions, especially this past year.
LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS
Both MP Anita Anand, and MPP Stephen Crawford have been supportive of our efforts to start a new business here in Oakville (especially during the pandemic). We have found their offices to be very responsive to our requests. Your local members of parliament want to help you and see you succeed. Don’t avoid reaching out for help when you need it. And while you’re at it, get to know your local Municipal Councillors – ours have been amazing cheerleaders as well as go-to experts on many local issues that affect our business.
Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is a membership-based organization that advocates for all independently-owned businesses in Canada. They are the voice of small business and work to influence government to understand our needs. They also have many resources you can tap to support your company.
OAKVILLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Last but not least, this organization led by a superb team of dedicated professionals, helps hundreds of local small businesses owners connect, learn, grow, and succeed. There are membership fees to join, but with over 70 annual events to participate in, and an extraordinarily supportive culture, it’s well worth the investment. More about the Chamber here.