WELLINGTON COUNTY – Oct. 20 to the 26 marks Small Business Week, a time to celebrate small businesses – and Wellington County has a lot to celebrate, too.
According to the Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures (WWCF) organization, as of June 2019, the total number of small businesses in Wellington County has increased 13 per cent since 2014.
While it may sound daunting to launch a small business, WWCF business coach Tina Heathers told the Advertiser it may be cheaper than people think – and it all depends on how prepared the individual is.
“Our whole economy is driven so much from small business, but we are at a change place right now where more people are interested in working in an area that they love,” said Heathers.
“So many people are looking about and questioning, ‘can I quit my job and run my own business?’” said Heathers. “Featuring small businesses, it gives people that reminder that it’s a possibility.”
Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures helps people who want to start small businesses by providing training, coaching and loans.
Even before reaching out to organizations like WWCF, Heathers said the first step should be to do some research and make a plan.
“The number one thing is to do a bit of a feasibility plan; will this sell in my community? Will this sell enough in my community to financially support me?”
When WWCF considers businesses and entrepreneurs to fund, it looks at the business plan.
“It doesn’t have to be huge, but it has to be well thought out. Particularly, who do you think is going to buy from you? What prices are you going to set and who is the competition?” said Heathers.
In Wellington County the top four industries with the largest number of businesses are: construction; agriculture; professional, scientific and technical; and manufacturing.
There are 638 construction businesses in total, with the largest numbers in Centre Wellington (195), Guelph-Eramosa (115) and Wellington North (93).
There are 373 agricultural businesses in the county. The top three municipalities with highest number of agriculture businesses are: Wellington North (84), Centre Wellington (83) and Mapleton (78).
There are 316 professional, scientific and technical businesses: 105 in Centre Wellington, 71 in Guelph-Eramosa and 43 in Erin.
Finally, there are 248 manufacturing businesses: 84 in Centre Wellington, 37 in Wellington North and 35 in Guelph-Eramosa.
The second step, according to Heathers, is building up finance and marketing skills by attending workshops and learning.
“When you’re starting up, you at least need to kind of understand the basics,” she said.
“So even if you hired a part-time bookkeeper, you still want to know what she’s doing. You want to know those statements or those summaries that he or she is doing. You want to know what that means.”
However, depending on the type of business, starting your own can be cheaper than you think.
“There are some businesses that can be started really, really inexpensively. If you want to do something in consulting, really what you need is … the cash flow to pay for your own salary,” she said.
“But you can make a brochure and a website, for a couple thousand dollars.
“If you want … retail, manufacturing, restaurant, any of those that require assets and a solid place, you’re looking at, 50 to $100,000 to start,” she added.
It is also important to grow marketing and social media skills, especially because platforms can change and enhance so frequently.
WWFC offers free workshops that can help aspiring small business owners build these skills and others.
The next workshop is on Oct. 24 from 1 to 3:30pm at the Old Quarry Commons, 294 East Mill St., Unit # 207. To register for the workshop email Tina Heathers at firstname.lastname@example.org.