KAST Becoming an Entrepreneur

Taking the Leap! Steps to Becoming an Entrepreneur

KAST Becoming an Entrepreneur

Owning your own business is a gamble, but there are some critical steps to help increase the chances that your entrepreneurial dreams become a successful reality.

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but not everybody is going to be successful. Entrepreneurship takes a lot of experience, hard work, and serious determination.

And while there are no hard-and-fast prerequisites to becoming an entrepreneur, the primary criterion is that your business must add or provide value. If your idea, product, or service doesn’t address a common pain point – doesn’t bring value to the lives of your target market – there really won’t be any reason for people to take notice.

If you want to start a business but don’t know where to start, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many of us have come to the conclusion that we want to create the work we love. Take on the responsibility of a business that’s better aligned with our goals, lifestyle, and aspirations so as to make money for ourselves rather than someone else.

Regardless of the motivation, the goal is to be your own boss. You’ve got the entrepreneurial dream, now you just need to know how to make it a reality. Here are a few important steps to get you started:

Identify the right business for you.

The beauty of entrepreneurship is that you can achieve it in just about any area or discipline. If you can think it, chances are you can create a business around it. If you haven’t already identified the focus of your business, start with your skills, expertise, interests, and passions. Explore how you might translate what you already have, know, or do into a product or service that has the potential to be successful. Entrepreneurship is hard work, so something that matters to you, something you care about, something that you specialize in, is a great place to start.

Determine if you need additional education, skills, or training

While you may not need a formal education to be an entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean you may not have to expand your education or skill set. If you want to start a tech company, experience in business, computer programming, and marketing could all be valuable. Looking to prototype a new product? You may need to explore training in the various facets of 3D print manufacturing. Of course, some sectors will likely require some type of specific education, such as your own bookkeeping, accounting, or law firm.

Market validation or customer discovery

Don’t take for granted that just because you think there’s a need that there actually is. Not every business appeals to everybody. Consider the support and guidance of a Venture Accelerator Program (VAP), with whom you can engage in thorough customer discovery and market validation processes to help you more accurately gauge not just the market for your business, but your potential for success. Identify that others feel the pinch that you do, and that your product or service will, in fact, have an audience that’s interested.

Plan your business

Before you formally start your business, you need to have a business plan. A business plan lays out any objectives you have as well as your strategy for achieving those objectives. This plan is important for getting investors on board, as well as measuring how successful your business is. If you’ve participated in a VAP, it’s a good bet that at least part, if not most, of this step, will be achieved through the process.

Network

While networking is important regardless of profession or sector, it’s critical for entrepreneurs. Networking – attending events and programs in your sector or perhaps spending a day or two each week at your local co-work space – allows you to connect with potential professional support, qualified employees, clients, and maybe even possible investors.

Exploring co-op or student work programs

Once it’s time to hire, look for programs that encourage and support utilizing qualified students in need of professional work experience as they complete their studies. Co-op and student work programs allow employers to take advantage of wage subsidies while providing a beneficial professional experience to students. If a successful fit, these programs can lay the ground-work for reliable and trusted future employment opportunities as well.

Marketing

Marketing your business starts right from the outset and continues throughout the life of your business. If you’ve fulfilled the requirements of a  VAP, your customer discovery work should have effectively started the ball rolling in your early marketing efforts.

Regardless, marketing is challenging, no matter how you slice it! But knowing your target audience is half the battle and is essential for communicating exactly how your business adds value and provides a solution to your prospective customers. You need to know where they live – email, social media, telephone, a combination of them all.

And you need to concisely and consistently provide compelling reasons why you’re the solution they need.

Interested in more information about KAST entrepreneur programs and support? Learn more HERE or call 1.250.362.5052.

Innovate BC's Ignite Program

Innovate BC Ignite Program

Innovate BC's Ignite Program

BC Ignite: Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens with ideas, insights, time — and money.

Innovate BC’s Ignite Program provides up to $300,000 to fund projects in the areas of natural resources, applied science and/or engineering.

Teams made up of industry and academia come together to solve real-life business problems in a 3-year time frame. From helping get clean drinking water into third world countries to diagnosing eye diseases faster than ever before, Ignite is bringing technology to life in BC.

Here in the Kootenays, there are so many cool new companies helping lead the way with innovation. Among them is Advanced Biocarbon 3DIn partnership with Selkirk College, the company is developing a new sustainable 3D-printing filament that is carbon negative, non-toxic, and biodegradable with engineer-grade quality.

MadeatMIDAS_Advance-BioCarbon-3D-06-1500x998

With plenty of focus being put on the negative impact plastics has on our environment, this Kootenay-based company is developing plastics made from sustainable and un-used wood that would otherwise be a waste in forestry. Rural-made solutions for global problems.

Last year the company received a boost from Innovate BC’s Ignite Program that awarded the partnership with Selkirk College to the tune of $300,000. That money has gone a long way towards the success of the operation.

The next round of Ignite funding is now open to applications with a deadline of August 12th.

Focus area

Proposals must involve the areas of natural resources, applied science and/or engineering, and must outline the business problem you and your team is attacking.

Teams

Applicants must be a BC-based team comprised of two or more companies, organizations, and academic researchers. All teams must include an academic member and an industry partner.

Matching funds

Projects must secure matching funds from industry or government sources at a ratio of 2:1 matching dollars to Ignite dollars.

Timing

Projects must plan to move a proposed innovation to market within a 3-year timeframe.

Key dates BC Ignite Round 8:

  • Deadline to submit Letter of Intent (LOI) to Innovate BC: August 12, 2019
  • Deadline for invited applicants to submit a full proposal: October 12, 2019
  • Anticipated notice of decision: Late December 2019
  • Anticipated start of funding: January 2020

To view past winning Ignite projects, click here.

Innovative Kootenay companies should head to Ignite BC website for more information and to apply.

KAST - why you should join a Venture Accelerator Program

6 Reasons to Participate in an Accelerator Program to Launch or Advance your Startup

KAST - why you should join a Venture Accelerator Program

When you plan your travels, a map helps guide your route to a successful and enjoyable trip. Likewise, a Venture Accelerator Program will help guide your way along the best route to success.

You’ve got a great new idea for a product or service. You may have even initiated the process of developing a business. Chances are, in these early stages, you could use some helpful advice, direction and maybe even a little funding. That’s where an accelerator program comes in. If offers the resources and expertise of someone who’s successfully traveled the path to help you get all three.

If you need a little nudge about participating, here are six good reasons why you should consider joining an accelerator:

1. Comprehensive support

As you may already know, developing, launching, and operating a startup can be a challenging and often lonely business. That’s where an accelerator program can help. When you work within an accelerator, you receive valuable support from experienced mentors or Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR). In addition to the direction, experience, and knowledge, they’re also there for emotional support.

2. Accelerated knowledge

Providing a ton of information based on the years of experience and skills that each mentor, or EIR, has amassed is what makes an accelerator program what it is. Access to this concentrated amount of information allows you to make your way through the various steps far more quickly and efficiently than trying to go it alone.

Accelerator programs offer you the opportunity to leverage the years of accumulated wisdom and experience available, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. As a result, you are better positioned to develop and launch your startup in a more calculated, strategic way, improving your chances of success.

3. Skills development

Focus on teaching the skills essential to launching and running a business, including sales and marketing, customer discovery, communications, finance, and sometimes even technical skills provide the foundation of an accelerator program.

Accelerators can also help you share your skills with other startup founders in the program, providing a great testing ground for disseminating your skills later on to your own team.

4. Risk management

Front of mind for any startup founder is, more often than not, the risk of failure. It can seem as though there is risk in everything you take on. This includes the market you’ve targeted, your product, and the concept you’re presenting.

The success of a startup depends on how the various functions – product development, pricing, technology, operations, customer service, marketing, finance, and HR management – have been performed. How each of these components is addressed has a direct impact on the success or failure of the enterprise.

An accelerator can identify the risks within your concept and help you work on minimizing them. Also, those within the program can provide you with the direction in proactively taking on risk and managing it effectively.

5. A bigger-picture, long-term view

As a founder, particularly if you’re jumping into startup waters for the first time, it can seem impossible to see beyond the first six months or year. However, in order to ensure your chances for success, it’s critical to work toward a much longer view and outcome. Accelerators help you see the entire forest in addition to the individual trees.

An accelerator program EIR can help you anticipate complexities or roadblocks and help you to navigate them more effectively. They can ask the questions that get you thinking bigger picture. They’ll also suggest the tools, strategies, and tactics to help get you there.

6. Motivation and morale

There is a spirit of collaboration in the accelerator program experience and it adds motivation and inspiration with each step.  Your EIR or mentor has been there, both in their own business as well as coaching other startups, and they serve as a powerful motivating force.

Doubts and challenges are part and parcel of the startup process, and when you connect with other accelerator participants, hearing about their self-doubts and challenges, it can be highly inspiring and motivational.

Interested in how an accelerator program can help launch or advance your startup? Check out the BC Venture Accelerator Program HERE!

 

KAST - tips to launch your startup

5 Important Tasks as You Prepare to Launch Your Startup

KAST - launch your startup

As you consider taking your business idea/concept to an operating startup business, the to-do list is seemingly endless!

The list is loooo-ooong when it comes to things to do in the life of a fledgling startup. There are some priorities, however, to ensure that your valuable and limited time is most effectively being spent.

Tackle the following tasks first and you’ll not only crystallize your vision but lay the proper foundation for the work that has to follow.

Be VERY clear in your idea/concept and vision

This may sound ridiculously obvious but revisiting your idea, clarifying it, and defining exactly what you are and what you do is always a productive, not to mention illuminating, exercise.

Part of this step is identifying core values, which will help you clarify what’s important to your startup while also helping other founders or employees understand what is important to your idea and business. It helps to determine a clear direction in all steps that follow.

It’s vital that you are able to explain concisely and succinctly your idea and vision when asked and reviewing it amongst yourselves repeatedly helps refine what will inevitably be part of your pitch.

Here’s help:

What? Another short paragraph, identifying clearly ‘What We Are’. What does your startup do? Is it a product, or a service? What is pain point is it attempting to address? What market are you aiming for?

Who: Write down a short paragraph, identifying clearly ‘Who We Are’. For instance, why you? What precipitated the idea and startup journey? Who are you?

The pitch: Bring together the What and the Who to create your pitch – 30 seconds keeps things short and to the point! Getting this down ensures you can sell it at the drop of a hat, concisely and with confidence.

Catchphrase or Tagline: a simple phrase that encompasses the what and the who. This is meant to be only a line – short and sweet. If it’s catchy, and rolls off the tongue, all the better. This is your opportunity to highlight a key benefit of your idea or perhaps a key belief or value that is the foundation of your business.

It’s important to be honest – DO NOT  promise what you aren’t sure you can deliver.

Customer Discovery and Validation – Know Your Target Market!

It’s one thing to have a great idea and believe there’s a need in the marketplace your concept will address. It’s another to know that there’s a market for it. Who are you selling this to? You need to know your target market.

Here’s help:

You MUST do your research. Explore the marketplace: have you found similar products/services out there? Is there a lot of competition or not so much?

Note particular unique selling propositions, price ranges, and sales strategies. What do they offer?

Identify and narrow down your prospective users. Gather data: gender, age, location, job or career, income, situation, environment, retail habits, etc.

Develop Your Branding

With a solid understanding of the company vision and target market defined, brand development will help prospective audience and clients identify, reach, and want you.

Company branding will help you become more identifiable in the marketplace. Your brand has to relate to your vision and values. and will help you reach the audience you need to make your startup a success.

Here’s help:

Brainstorm and create a mood board to direct your design, keeping it focused on the goal as well as the audience.

Consider your tone and visual language.

Less is more! Keep it simple, clean, and carefully considered so it is easily identifiable. Make it unique! And make sure it helps to convey your message.

Set Goals

Setting goals is important in many facets of our lives, but when it comes to building a successful startup it’s particularly important. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants, goals provide the direction and objective for your startup, both short term and long term.

However… it’s all about baby steps! Keep your eye on the prize but your focus on achievements short-term. Look to set small, achievable golas that provide the small wins that keep things moving forward. It’s the “how do you eat an elephant…?” approach.

Take some time to consider a few important questions:

  • What is one of your startup’s annual goals?
  • What monthly deliverable will contribute towards this yearly goal?
  • What weekly deliverable will help you reach your monthly goals?
  • What daily completed task(s) will help you reach your weekly goals?

These small bites move the project forward, build momentum, and lead to an elephant consumed!

Here are a few examples of small, incremental goals that move your business towards the biggies:

  • Set up the Legal Entity of your business
  • Set up your business bank account
  • Set some sales targets, even if this means only the first sale!
  • Set up your website
  • Finish the first prototype of a project
  • Getting the first 100 subscribers to the app
  • Earn a mention on a blog, or website, or magazine
  • Create and expand a professional network
  • Hire key members of staff

No matter the goals, keep them realistic and attainable! Goals left unachieved are discouraging and can undermine morale.

Create a Business Plan

The idea, the values, the logo… it’s all important. But it’s a proper, thoughtfully developed business plan that can give you a significant advantage.

KAST launch your startup business plan

Of people who start companies with a completed business plan:

  • 36% obtained a loan.
  • 36% received investment capital.
  • 64% grew their business.

Of the people without a business plan:

  • 18% obtained a loan.
  • 18% received investment capital.
  • 43% grew their business.

A business plan is a written description of your company’s future. It’s the outline of what you want to do and how you’re planning to do it. Typically, business plans outline the first three to five years of your business strategy – how you’re going to make money!

Here’s help:

Begin with a Business Model Canvas (BMC). It provides the structure of a business plan without the overhead or the ad-hoc ‘back of the napkin’ sketch!

Popular with entrepreneurs it is a visual chart where you can identify and describe the value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances of your business. It offers:

  • Focus: Without the dozens of pages of a traditional business plan, users of a BMC improve their clarity and focus on what’s driving the business.
  • Flexibility: It’s a lot easier to tweak the model and try things as it’s all on a single page.
  • Transparency: You and your team will have a much easier time understanding your business model and be much more likely to buy into your vision when it’s laid out on a single page.

Have a great idea or the beginnings of a startup? Looking for valuable tools and resources to help you along your entrepreneurial journey? Talk to us!

Improving Internet Access for Basin Residents

Improving High-speed Internet Access for 26 Basin Communities

Improving Internet Access for Basin Residents

Improved high-speed internet is on the way for 26 communities in the Basin, bringing people opportunities to learn, connect and better expand their businesses.

The Province announced today $4.8 million in provincial funding to support the Trust on two new projects to improve broadband access in rural areas.

“In today’s digital age, the internet is part of the foundation for growing good-paying jobs, learning, healthcare and keeping in touch. Our government is committed to a future where everyone in B.C. has access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens Services. “We have incredible tools and resources available to help rural and Indigenous communities form their own digital strategy so they can come forward with applications.”

The Trust’s Broadband Initiative will install fibre-optic infrastructure for two new projects; one in the Slocan Valley to just outside Nakusp, and one in the South Country near Jaffray. New fibre-optic lines will enable internet service providers to offer faster and more reliable services to people throughout the region. The total value of the Slocan Valley and the South Country projects is approximately $10.2 million and includes $4.4 million from the Trust, $420,000 from the Regional District of East Kootenay and $525,000 from the Regional District of Central Kootenay and communities in the Slocan Valley and Nakusp. Both projects are funded through the Connecting British Columbia intake announced in 2018, and are administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“Residents have told us that increasing high-speed internet connectivity throughout the region is important to them, ” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “Our partnership with the Province and local governments will expand affordable broadband
availability in the Slocan Valley and South Country area. With a new fibre backbone in place, local internet service providers can greatly improve service to more residents in both areas.”

The Slocan Valley project will see CBBC install 125 kilometres of fibre-optic infrastructure to service the region between Shoreholme, just north of Nakusp, and the Playmor Junction, at an estimated total cost of $7.2 million. Communities benefiting from this work include Appledale, Brouse, Crescent Valley, Hills, Lebahdo, Lemon Creek, Nakusp, New Denver, Passmore, Perrys, Playmor Junction, Rosebery, Shoreholme, Silverton, Slocan, Slocan Park, South Slocan, Summit Lake, Vallican and Winlaw.

The South Country project involves more than 50 kilometres of fibre-optic infrastructure installed between Jaffray and Roosville at an estimated total cost of $2.9 million. This project will help improve services for people in Tobacco Plains, Baynes Lake, Grasmere, Jaffray, Kragmont and Roosville.

Read the full release.

BC PNP TECH PILOT KAST

BC Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot

BC PNP TECH PILOT KAST

Are you an employer looking to fill positions for engineers, IT professionals, or industry-related technicians?

The Government of BC is running a pilot program to fast-track the hiring of skilled immigrants for these positions.

The B.C. technology sector is a major driver of economic growth in the province, with tech employment at its highest level ever recorded. The demand for talent in B.C.’s tech sector is increasing faster than the supply.

The priorities for the Ministry of Jobs, Trade, and Technology include establishing B.C. as a preferred location for new and emerging technologies, increasing the growth of domestic B.C. tech companies, and removing barriers to attracting skilled workers.

B.C. is developing the highest quality local talent by introducing students to tech earlier, adjusting training and education in post-secondary institutions and creating work experience opportunities.

Beyond using the skills and talent of B.C. workers, companies need to be able to attract skilled workers from around the world. Tech entrepreneurs and skilled workers from other leading-edge countries can help grow B.C.’s technology sector, leading to more jobs for British Columbians.

In support of these priorities, a pilot under the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) works to ensure the technology sector can attract and retain the talent it needs to be sustained and to grow the sector further.

The BC PNP Tech Pilot helps employers to address their talent needs by providing a fast-tracked, permanent immigration pathway for in-demand foreign workers and international students.

Click HERE for more information.

BC PNP Tech Pilot Features

The BC PNP Tech Pilot key features are based on service, timeliness, prioritization, and engagement in response to the needs of the industry:

  • Service: A dedicated BC PNP concierge for tech employers provides tailored information and navigation assistance of immigration programs and processes.
  • Timeliness: Weekly invitations to apply are issued to qualified skilled tech workers, minimizing the wait for employers and their prospective employees.
  • Prioritization: Tech applications are prioritized during processing to meet the sector’s fast-paced demands.
  • Engagement: Continuous support to tech sector employers through proactive engagement activities and participation at key industry events.

Updates and enhancements to the BC PNP Tech Pilot

BC PNP Tech Pilot extended to June 2019

The BC PNP Tech Pilot has been extended for another year to provide employers with a degree of stability that will allow them to plan for their future staffing needs.

Click HERE for more information.

Updates to eligible Tech Pilot occupations

We have also updated the list of eligible occupations for the Tech Pilot to focus on the 29 tech occupations that have been demonstrated to be in high demand by the tech sector so that we can maintain the speed of service.

Labour market research conducted by the BC Tech Association and the Vancouver Economic Commission identified access to talent as the biggest issue facing the tech sector, posing the most significant barrier to economic growth.

The research identified 32 in-demand tech occupations, and eligibility for the BC PNP Tech Pilot was originally based on these 32 tech occupations. Based on actual demand from tech sector employers in the pilot’s first year, the pilot will continue with 29 of these occupations eligible under the pilot.

This change allows the program to focus resources on prioritizing those tech occupations demonstrated to be in high demand within the tech sector to maintain the speed of processing and high level of service to tech employers.

The complete list of the 29 in-demand tech occupations can be downloaded HERE.

Technology companies hiring for occupations that are not eligible for the BC PNP Tech Pilot are still able to connect with the concierge service regarding their specific needs.

Tech Pilot enhancements to include one-year job offers

The BC PNP Tech Pilot is also being enhanced by reducing the eligibility requirement for a permanent full-time job offer, to a one-year full-time job offer.

As of June 26, 2018, individuals who apply under a Skills Immigration category in an eligible tech occupation must have a job offer of at least one year (365 days) in length. The job offer must have at least 120 days remaining at the time of application to the BC PNP.

Longer duration job offers, including indeterminate job offers, will continue to be eligible.

Click HERE for more information.