Small businesses across British Columbia now have a free, comprehensive resource to boost their business-planning efforts and foster an online community of information and support, thanks to the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia.
The Small Business Accelerator, which launches today at www.sba-bc.ca, is a new gateway to business information for small firms and entrepreneurs throughout the province. It’s also a valuable tool for public and college libraries, community development organizations and other agencies to support their clients.
A highlight of the SBA is its range of research guides that provide tailored information for specific industries. The site features 36 in-depth guides, developed with the expertise of UBC business librarians and library students, which cover sectors ranging from alternative energy to Web development, landscaping to restaurant retailing, and much more.
Visits to B.C. communities by the Learning Centre’s Director and the Community Business Services Librarian provided the Learning Centre with valuable feedback that was used to help shape the SBA during its development. In the new year, the librarian will visit organizations throughout the province to provide site training and outreach.
“We’re honoured to offer this free service for British Columbians who have started, or are looking to start, their own businesses – especially those in rural and remote parts of the province,” says Sandra Singh, director of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. “The site is an invaluable resource, built with the expertise of business librarians, to help entrepreneurs from communities across the province access the right information for effective business planning at any stage of development.”
“Anyone interested in exploring the possibilities of opening a business in B.C. will find a wealth of information on the site, no matter what stage of business planning they are in,” says Petra Mauerhoff, manager of College Library Services at Cranbrook’s College of the Rockies. “Even business students working on hypothetical cases for their course work will get great use out of this offering.”
“I’m really impressed with the SBA so far. What it means to rural would-be entrepreneurs is that they’ll have access to information that everybody takes for granted in large metropolitan areas,” says Larry Jones, a business analyst with Community Futures Terrace, which supports small- and medium-sized companies and community economic development. “This is going to level the playing field quite a bit.”
The site also serves as a venue for an online SBA community, where those who create content for B.C. businesses – such as libraries, economic development agencies and others – are invited to share resources and expertise.
Small business is vital to the economic health of British Columbia. According to a 2010 profile, small businesses accounted for 98 per cent of all businesses in the province in 2009, and employed more than one million people.