Training: Learning to Succeed

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By Pankaj Tripathi

Business is so simple that teenagers have been successful at it, and yet so complicated that billionaires have failed at it. It is risky, challenging and unpredictable. Nicole Jansen of Sales
Partners, Toronto says, “Statistics tell us that more than 90 percent of businesses that open every year will close shop within the next five to ten years.”

This risk can be reduced through education, training and proper guidance. Marcela Rosemberg, a successful immigrant entrepreneur from Argentina currently based in PEI says, “The more I train, the more I accomplish.” Fortunately in Canada, the government, the private sector and educational institutions have come together and over the past decade developed and rolled out excellent programs providing business training for entrepreneurs and business owners. From the structured business programs available at the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto to the flexible two hour long seminars at Enterprise Centers across Ontario, there are a number of options available. Some cost money (student loans are easily available) and require a longer commitment, while others are absolutely free and can be as short as 90 minutes. All it requires is a vision, commitment and discipline. You must have a strong desire to succeed and change your circumstances for the better.

Across Ontario, the government has set up 57 Small Business Enterprise Centers (SBEC). Sandra Tan of Enterprise Center, Markham explains, “SBEC’s provide support to start-up and small enterprises during their first through fifth years of operation. Entrepreneurs are provided with easy access to one-stop business consulting services and information covering management, marketing, technology and financing.” The Centres operate under the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in partnership with local municipalities. Most of the training sessions are at no cost or minimum cost. Training topics range from identifying your idea, copyrighting it, writing a business plan, selling your products and services to customers, bookkeeping, web marketing and similar topics. SBEC Toronto, better known as Enterprise Toronto runs more 100 seminars every year.
Katherine Ross, at SBEC Toronto says, “More than 3500 people attend our seminars every year. The advantage is they can pick and choose what they want to learn. We help the business owner get to the next level through learning and networking.” She explains entrepreneurs and successful business owners are lifelong learners, and these training sessions provide them an opportunity for peer to peer learning, access to business networks and highly crucial references to investors who might be interested in start ups. Flexible, focused and extending across the life cycle of a business, the program is a boon for entrepreneurs, business owners and self employed across the province.

Steve Pellarin, General Manager, SBEC, London, Ontario says, “Newcomers to Canada have so many traits of an entrepreneur. They understand and are open to risk, are willing to make a fresh start and a number of them end up starting their own businesses. We assist them with market research, training, networking opportunities and business advisory services.” At the London center a limited number of services are provided in Spanish in an effort to reach out to the large Spanish speaking immigrant community present in the city.

Ottawa Center for Research and Innovation (OCRI) is a non-profit, partnership organization providing business training in the national capital region. Every year it organizes more than 200 seminars and training sessions on a wide range of topics that includes business plan writing, bookkeeping, performance measurement and cash flow management. Stephen Daze, Executive Director, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Research at OCRI says, “One of our most popular seminars is on “How to do business with the federal government”. It is a daylong training session and over the years a number of entrepreneurs and business owners have benefitted from it. We help you understand what you don’t know about the business and make it simple for you. This knowledge empowers the business owner and gives him or her confidence”.

Performance Management Consultants (PMC), another Ottawa based company that has been training business owners for the past two and half decades delivers professional business training in high technology, non-profit, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and healthcare sectors. It has more than 55 different courses on management, project management, business, interpersonal and behavioural skills. All the programs on offer are practical, interactive and designed to help businesses be more effective. Dan Hamilton, Head of In House training at PMC says, “Business training is one of the best investments a business owner can make in himself or his team. It dramatically improves their ability to sell products and services in a more focused, effective and efficient manner. It takes a lot uncertainty out of the business, and helps minimize the risk.”

With the economy taking its own sweet time to recover, and the jobs yet to make a return, a number of job seekers are looking at self employment, home businesses or small business enterprises. Entering a market without the proper skill set and training is not just difficult and inefficient but outright foolhardy. Satish Makol, an immigrant entrepreneur from India who set up a successful café business in Toronto says, “Both theoretical and practical training is absolutely essential for success in business, especially for new immigrants as they need to learn the culture, business environment and acquire technical skills required for their line of business. Especially when financial resources are scarce you must back it up with hard work, knowledge and skills.”

SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprise) employ approximately 2.8 million Ontarians, in more than 379,000 Small and Medium Employer businesses. 56 percent of these organizations employ less than 4 people and are small enterprises. These can be easily set up by someone with the determination, knowledge, skills and access to resources. There are training resources, networks and enterprising individuals spread across the province and the country to help entrepreneurs start up. All someone needs to do is to tap into this body of knowledge and wide network of contacts.

The Markham SBEC recently did a survey of new entrepreneurs and immigrant business owners. The results show that the biggest challenges faced by both these segments were lack of knowledge of how Canadian business works and limited or no access to mentors, trainers and business networks. These resources are present all across the country, open to everybody and tapping into them takes out the fear and uncertainty from the business. With technological improvements like webinars, social media, networking and video conferencing, those with enterprise and ambition need not feel hampered in their effort at realizing their dreams. Stephen Daze of OCRI puts it beautifully, “Once you learn more about your business, you discover after all it was not as difficult and dangerous as it appeared to be.” Learning, truly is the key to success in life.

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