Small business services to navigate path to entrepreneurship

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre exterior signage

Apply your passion and expertise, be your own boss, earn more and make a difference in your community. These are just some of the benefits to entrepreneurship. But for many aspiring entrepreneurs, launching and growing a small business is a challenging task.

There are 1.2 million small businesses in Canada, of which 97.9 per cent are small businesses, according to the Government of Canada. There are 11,356 businesses with 1-99 employees in Windsor-Essex alone. These figures demonstrate the importance of small businesses as drivers for the local economy.

Since 1992, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC) has supported thousands of people reach their goals of managing their own business. The centre, a division of the non-profit organization Invest WindsorEssex, helps entrepreneurs and existing small business owners start and grow their businesses in the Windsor-Essex region – from ideation and concept, through startup and operation, to the early growth and expansion stages of business.

SBEC works in partnership with the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. It’s also part of Small Business Centres Ontario, a network of offices that serve Ontario’s small business community.

Despite the challenges to businesses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, SBEC continues to see a growing number of business inquiries and new startups in Windsor-Essex. In 2020, the centre helped facilitate the startup of 140 new businesses, expansion of 97 businesses and creation 440 jobs locally. SBEC also delivered over $1.2 million in government funding to small and medium-sized businesses in Windsor-Essex and throughout southern Ontario last year.

SBEC supports individuals by providing advisory services, business resources and information, seminars and workshops, funding and a network of mentors. These are the keys to success, and success starts at SBEC.

Many people access resources through the SBEC website on topics such as business planning, human resources, marketing, business law and taxation, wealth management and succession planning. The website also features a community events calendar, free downloadable business guidebooks and an interactive tool that provides insight into available commercial properties and local market research.

Entrepreneurs can also tap into SBEC programs which provide in-depth training, mentorship and funding opportunities. Current programs offered in 2021-2022 include Starter Company PLUS, Summer Company, Digital Main Street, Foodpreneur Advantage and Growing Creative Careers. These programs support entrepreneurs of different industries, ages and business life cycles.

Starting or growing a business can be a daunting task, especially if you’re unsure where to begin. By using the resources available from SBEC and guidance from its team of advisors, you won’t hesitate with how to get started any longer. SBEC is currently providing virtual training and advisory services as well as site visits to businesses. In the coming months, the centre hopes to welcome back clients to its offices in Windsor and the Town of Essex.

October is Small Business Month in Ontario and SBEC is proud to highlight its services, clients and opportunities through various marketing campaigns, giveaways and events. Follow SBEC on social media and visit its website for details on this year’s initiatives.

Read the October edition of Business Windsor-Essex

This article was first published on Oct. 14 in Business Windsor-Essex, a new quarterly publication from The Windsor Star. Business Windsor-Essex aims to connect audiences to insights from the business leaders, politics and community organizations that are shaping Windsor-Essex. Each edition partners with local industry experts to be the source of awareness, advice and analysis for entrepreneurs, SMEs and large enterprises alike.