help signposts

Nobody chooses to become an entrepreneur because it’s easy. The process of building, launching, running, and growing a small business is daunting and challenging, but every entrepreneur takes it on because he or she has a vision for success, passion for the concept and above all, a desire for independence.

What some small business owners lose sight of is that independence doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything alone. A recent Salesforce survey of Canadian small businesses found that many SMB owners still have a go-it-alone mentality when it comes to seeking mentorship, support and advice.

Whether it’s building a business, growing internationally or securing funding, there are a number of tools and resources available to lone-wolf entrepreneurs searching for a pack to run with. Here are four categories of help you could seek out.

Business incubators

Over the last decade incubators and accelerators have popped up around the county providing entrepreneurs not only a space to work, but also the expertise, mentorship and resources they need to take their businesses to the next level. For example Communitech, an industry-led innovation hub in the Waterloo Region, supports nearly 1,000 companies at all stages of growth by helping them acquire talent, customers, and capital.

Incubators and accelerators also put enrolled entrepreneurs in touch with networks of influential business people—peers, investors and executives—that they might not otherwise have access to.

Mentorship

Whether you’re climbing your way up the corporate ladder or building your own business from scratch, mentorship can be an incredibly valuable tool. A good mentor can provide objective advice, ask questions you might not have thought through and relate his or her own experiences.

With 81% of SMB owners considering expansion outside of Canada, and half (51%) indicating they’re likely to do so within the next 11 months, working with a mentor who has international experience is worth considering. A good place to find one is at an organization like The C100, which connects Canadian startup founders with experienced business leaders in Silicon Valley. The C100’s members are some of the most successful Canadians working in the tech industry, and are dedicated to giving back to the community by helping the next generation of successful Canadian entrepreneurs.

Funding partners

Financing continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing any small business owner, particularly for those that want to expand. But among those surveyed by Salesforce, only a fraction were actively seeking funding support. A fifth of entrepreneurs we spoke to were looking at government grants, 10% were contemplating angel investors, and a mere 2% were planning to seek funding from incubators.

The good news is that there are a number of options for the small business owner who is looking for a funding partner. Organizations like the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are a great place to turn for support. With a roster of over 30,000 small and medium-sized companies, the BDC provides consulting services, business loans, and a full range of specialized financing, including venture capital.

Tools for success

Even with the perfect amount of funding and an impeccable business plan, small businesses need the right tools to help them survive and grow. There are many organizations that provide entrepreneurs with these essential tools at a reduced cost.

Salesforce for Startups, for instance, connects entrepreneurs with the technology, tools and expertise they need to become a successful customer and community-focused company.

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Ambition and passion are both mandatory for any small business owner, but tapping into available programs and resources simply makes good business sense. By using all the tools and resources available to you and seeking support along the way, entrepreneurs can help ensure that their dream not only survives, but thrives.

David Borrelli is Salesforce’s AVP of Commercial Sales for Canada.

MORE RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS:

What resources would you add to this list? Let us know by commenting below.

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