When recent natural disasters struck in B.C., Colleen Peters soon realized she needed help. It was no longer ‘business as usual’ for her business, Woodlands Fishin’ Resort, or many other small businesses around the province.
Peters found solutions in services provided by Community Futures British Columbia’s Disaster Recovery and Economic Adjustment Initiative (DREAI).
“For the past several years, fires, flooding and mill closures throughout B.C. have made operating our business challenging,” says Peters, who operates the rustic fishing resort on the shores of Puntzi Lake near Chilanko Forks. “Many of our clients within B.C. couldn’t travel or vacation, and those travelling from outside of B.C. were hesitant to visit.”
Community Futures (CF) is a small business development organization, with experts offering local assistance from 34 offices throughout rural B.C. Their wide variety of services and tools help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals. This includes business support services, business planning advice, loans, and self-employment assistance.
The DREAI initiative is being delivered in 17 CF regions. It provides support services - including coaching, training and mentoring - to businesses and enterprising not-for-profits in communities impacted by wildfires, industry closures and the continued transformation of rural British Columbia’s economic landscape.
DREAI is funded by the Government of Canada through PacifiCan.
Workshops are provided free for eligible members. Topics include leadership and personal development, marketing, human resources, e-commerce and finance.
“I’ve have taken workshops on e-commerce, bookkeeping and digital marketing, which were a great help,” Peters says. “Elizabeth helped me create my first Facebook ad, and the response was fantastic.”
Coaching and Consulting Services
Eligible businesses can access up to 10 hours of free, one-on-one support from professionals such as insurance specialists, accountants, bookkeepers and marketing experts.
“I worked with an HR consultant, who helped me with writing employee contracts and workbooks,” Peters says. “I also got help from a web consultant to learn how to use Wordpress. A lot of this stuff is new to me, and it takes some getting used to, but now I’m not as afraid to push buttons!”
Peer mentoring provides online opportunities for businesses to connect and support one another with the guidance of a professional facilitator.
Business-specific training supports the development of industry-related skills that will lead to increased sales and or cost-savings. Eligible businesses can apply for up to 80 per cent reimbursement to a maximum of $5,000 for eligible training activities. Training must be relevant to the current operations and ongoing needs of the business, and must result in skill development directly connected to management and business sustainability.
Program ambassadors provide one-on-one support to connect eligible businesses to DREAI services.
“If you have questions they can help you find a workshop or simply provide answers,” Peters says. “Since the recent disasters, CF has really evolved and captured what businesses really need. With the DREAI program we are growing our skills and our business. People need to know help is there, they just need to reach out!”