Fresh Start

New Year’s resolutions and Spring Cleaning are often seen as times to make a fresh start or create new beginnings. Yet, for most of us the real work and commitment to exploring new opportunities comes with the start of the school year. So, as we send our children back to school to continue their quest for knowledge and growth with their shiny new Star Wars lunch box, swishy corduroy pants and Winnipeg Jets backpack (sorry about the personal flashback) let’s also consider new opportunities to learn and develop as adults. What better time to expand your horizons and stretch your comfort zone than the start of another school year? As if you actually did it with your New Year’s resolution, anyways, eh!
Whether you’ve been in business for a long time or just thinking about entrepreneurship as a personal goal you will always have something to learn or a new idea to share and seek feedback. Not everyone can invest the time to pursue full business courses, nor is that effort, necessarily, recommended in all cases. There are a number of flexible learning options available that require more or less commitment and time allotments that can prove great value towards helping you achieve your small business goals.
For instance, North Island College offers a wide variety of courses specifically targeted to different groups, interests and time priorities through their Distance Education program. As a person who has instructed a variety of “D-Ed” seminars I can tell you, first-hand, that these workshops attract all kinds of people with varied educational and workplace backgrounds who come together with a common desire of wanting to learn something new and to share their experiences. Some of the D-Ed offerings are “one off” 2-3 hour sessions while others are ongoing. I encourage you to check out the opportunities.
Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot also offers topical, informative and low to no-cost video conference training sessions delivered by other experts and our partners at Small Business BC. These video conferences provide a great amount of applicable, tangible information from business people to business people within a condensed time frame; usually no more than 3 hours. Community Futures also offers ongoing workshops for people to explore entrepreneurship and help in developing business plans. Additionally, Community Futures offers a number of different types of seminars throughout the year that target particular seasonal business opportunities such as merchandising during the Christmas season or specific issues like marketing during a recession. As with any professionally-facilitated session the real value in these, just like the NIC D-Ed courses is the opportunity to share and bounce ideas with other people in small business.
Starting fresh can also mean pursuing a new direction in life. I’m not anywhere near Polly-Anna enough to even suggest “making lemonade out of lemons” but I do believe in choosing to wake up with a positive attitude to look for opportunities in the challenges of each day. I clearly acknowledge the significant concerns faced by those that have been displaced out of their employment situations. I’ve experienced the issue first hand, myself. In our experience at Community Futures losing one’s job is often the ultimate motivation for people to pursue a business idea they’ve always had but hadn’t…yet. If you are one of these types of people you may be eligible for the Self-Employment program. To learn more about this program and the eligibility process you can contact Deb Haggard in our office.
If you happen to be reading this as a visitor to our welcoming Alberni Valley or have good friends or family outside the area that you think should consider moving here then I encourage contacts to consider moving to Port Alberni. Many people will criticize or complain about a number of things in this community. Many of those complaints are valid. Others, however, are grossly exaggerated or simply false. I’m sure we all know someone who isn’t happy unless they’re, well…not happy! In spite of or because of these issues the Alberni Valley has an inspiring list of qualities that are attractive to new residents, entrepreneurs and the increasingly targeted and desired “young family” demographic. As residents of the Alberni Valley don’t be shy to sing the virtues of our community. If you are a visitor to our great community don’t be shy to ask lots of questions and share your interest in moving here and contributing to the ongoing diversification and transition of our economy.
So, this fall, as we start to rake up our falling leaves let me suggest there’s never a better time than to turn over a new one than the present!
……. Speaking of “fresh starts” and noting my convictions for customer service regular readers of this column may remember a couple of articles about “Business Lessons Learned From My Dog”. Recently, she had quite a health scare but with the quick actions, compassion, kindness and consideration of all the staff at Manzini Animal Hospital we were able to quickly and definitively discover that our dog was in fact, healthy, for a girl of her “vintage” and athletic life. So, my wife and I want to thank the Manzini staff for helping us through a difficult time and giving what feels like a fresh start for our canine girl.