Be Inspired! Stories and Tips from the Trenches

As a business advisor, it’s rewarding to see how our clients are doing.

As a small business owner, it’s good to connect with other owners for a sense of community, and to compare notes and gain some insights.

And, if you’re a potential owner, it’s inspiring to hear entrepreneurs share their real-life stories from the trenches and provide some advice on how to launch and thrive.

Our Tuning up Your Business Plan seminar is a great opportunity to experience community with your peers and to be inspired. Learn about our business plan checklist and tips based on our many years of experience reviewing plans. Then meet a panel of small businesses owners who have implemented their business plan successfully and are willing to share their experiences and answer your questions about how to start and succeed in business.

The guest panellists who participated in our Tuning up Your Business Plan seminar held on July 22 were:

Lisa von Sturmer & Andrew Sutherland, co-founders of Growing City. Combining their passion for urban sustainability, healthy living and community involvement, they founded their business in October 2009. Since then, Growing City has become a vital part of Vancouver’s green business community by providing a solution to the composting challenges experienced by businesses and urban dwellers.

Dean Gagnon, co-founder and president of  Dean and his former college classmate, Sunny Hirai, started their company with one simple goal – to create an easy website builder that empowers aspiring internet entrepreneurs with all of the tools and education they need to achieve their dreams. The technology has since launched over 572,000 websites with hundreds more going live each month.

Wendy Armbruster Bell, founder and creative director of Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear. Based on her experience in the apparel and sewn products industries and as a busy mom, Wendy started her business to provide the world’s only fashionable and organic hands-free pumping bras. Since its launch in January 2008, Snugabell’s profits have grown exponentially – as much as 250 percent annually.

Our panellists shared these words of wisdom:

Don’t be too timid. Don’t be afraid to say you are world class. Own your space in the marketplace.

Market research is critical. You need to know your competitors, your customers, and your industry; not just for your initial business plan, but on an ongoing basis. You need to know what the current landscape looks like, especially if you’re in an industry that changes often.

Your target market might change from your initial assumptions. Growing City had originally targeted residential customers, but found the commercial market more lucrative and easier to break into.

Quality is important. Maintaining very high quality standards in production has translated into a strong reputation for quality in the marketplace for Snugabell. Don’t lower your standards. Also using local manufacturers makes the quality control more manageable and supports local business.

Align yourself with like minded businesses, organizations, and individuals. Our panellists use strategic partnerships and believe in community involvement. Growing City views itself as an important part of a sustainable community – as opposed to just a waste management solution – and thus partners with different local organizations and charities every month. Snugabell supports breast feeding organizations (Best for Babes and Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation) and provides information for breastfeeding moms in their collateral material.