Sunday, January 16, 2011

Small Business Entrepreneur Program

I haven't made an entry in quite a while. I spent most of December and January working away at my business plan to submit to the EI Small Business Entrepreneur Program. These programs are run by several places in the lower mainland such as Douglas College Small Business Program and the YMCA New Ventures program. I've applied to both programs and have my interviews the beginning of the week. These programs have some pretty stiff competition as there tends to be 40-60 applicants for about 15 spaces. They run on average 10 sessions per year, so that's quite the number of people looking to get in and get a business going.

If you've thought about starting your own business, this program can really help you get going. Eligibility is people currently on EI or have had a claim in the last three years and this includes parental leaves. The program is 48 weeks long. The main benefit financially is for the duration of the program, while you operate your business, you can continue to collect EI until your claim expires and then, or if you haven't an active claim, you get financial support of $300 per week, up until the end of the 48 weeks. These programs help you get your business up and running, providing help with your business plan, business skills development as well as ongoing support during the program.

It can be pretty involved, getting an application ready for the programs. You essentially have to come up with the outline and some of the hard details for your business plan. The concept, market analysis, financial details, competitive analysis, your pricing and product details etc are all part of the info you have to fill in on the application. Of course, this isn't fully fleshed out. They will help you with that once you are participating. It certainly took me a lot of research and time, especially as my concept is art based rather than something more common like selling widgets or a service. And even then, if your concept is something rather different than what you see in the market, it's even more fun trying to build a case for economic viability. Then you need to get creative and get letters of reference and letters from people who might buy what you are selling.

If you want further information here are a few links to explore. Be aware, not all programs may be running right now. As with anything the province has a hand in, funding is always an issue in BC.

BC Urban Entrepreneur Development Association - links to programs 
Douglas College Self Employment Program 
YMCA New Ventures Program

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