There are plenty of support groups for many different things, but what most small business owners fail to realize is that there are also support groups for small business owners.
All a small business owner needs to do is to seek out the help and he or she will find it in many different forms and from different funding groups. There are government-funded programs as well as government and private industry co-funded programs aimed at helping start-ups get on the right track – or to give a new or early-stage business a competitive advantage.
Some examples of government support for small businesses are Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBECs) and community-based providers that offer entrepreneurs all the tools they need to start to grow their businesses. There are also organizations like the MaRS Discovery District (an independent registered charity) who works with an extensive network of partners to help entrepreneurs launch and grow the innovative companies that are building the future. They are dedicated to driving economic and social prosperity by harnessing the full potential of innovation, while working with an extensive network of private and public-sector partners to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their innovative companies.
Then there are business ‘incubation’ centres that aid in the process of starting and growing companies. They provide entrepreneurs with the expertise, networks and business tools to make their business ventures successful. Business incubation programs have been known to help diversify economies, commercialize technologies and create jobs, along with building wealth. Business incubators are partially funded by various levels of government and require clients to be currently collecting Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or to be unemployed and have received EI benefits within the past year and a half.
A great resource is Enterprise Toronto, a City of Toronto service that provides free assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them succeed. Its team of small business advisors can help small business owners and entrepreneurs make the right decisions during start-up, as well as develop management capabilities as a business venture grows. It can also help with information on government programs and business incubation services and unique training and networking opportunities – including its annual Small Business Forum and weekly seminars featuring industry experts on various topics, including access to funding for small business and locating office space that a business can afford.
While locating various offline business support services using Internet searches, you will also find other online-based resources and small business support groups. There are plenty of small business groups on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Google Plus, even some that are geographically focused. Many are online forums to bounce questions off of other small business owners, while other groups are intended for business networking.
Meetup is fast becoming the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local small business group or find one of many groups that are already meeting up face-to-face. Some of these groups call their members “Members”, but some of the more active groups call the people involved names like: Business Owners; Owners; Business Mavens; Networkers; Entrepreneurs; Start-up Builders; New Client Seekers; Business Lovers and SBN enthusiasts. One group’s members are called GTA Vegan Business Owners.
Then there are the less formal business support groups that can be found in office business centres like Telsec Business Centres. Groups of office space for lease tenants will gather in one of the larger boardrooms for a casual lunch and will often find themselves talking about the challenges and rewards of their businesses. Sometimes an office tenant will book a large meeting room or boardroom for a networking meeting after hours that will involve business owners who may not have office space to hold such a networking event.