Small Business Week: Weighing in on small business resources

“I’ve never had as much help and support as I had when I started my business here in Kelowna:” Yoree Grozenok, 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

The Central Okanagan has greatly improved its services, offerings, and resources for small business owners, say several Business Excellence Awards nominees, but the region’s work is far from over.

Several of the nominees agree that the Okanagan lifestyle is an important draw for business owners—and in building a great place to live, the Okanagan has by and large succeeded.

“That’s one of the great things about the Okanagan that I noticed when I moved here from Vancouver,” said Yoree Grozenok, a local franchise owner with 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

“In bigger cities, it’s harder to manage a work-life balance. You can really build a great lifestyle here.”

A.J. Hazzi, of Vantage West Realty, agrees.

“I think young entrepreneurs want to build businesses here because of the lifestyle,” said Hazzi, a nominee for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

“Small businesses are how places like Kelowna survive. People want the lifestyle, but they also need work.”

But in spite of a great lifestyle and a strong resource network, small business owners still face a variety of challenges—challenges that are proving difficult to master.

“Accessing non-collateral based loans to fund growth (is difficult),” said Hazzi.

“My company has had to fund its own growth. As an entrepreneur, this makes it nearly impossible to focus on the business because you’re so busy working in the business.”

Hazzi says that mentoring is another area where he’d like to see more support.

Entrepreneurship needs to be nurtured at a much earlier age, he says, and the school systems can play an important role in doing so.

Meagan Hughes, owner of Cottage Quilting, notes that the crafts industry in particular is one that presents challenges.

Demand for her business is seasonal, she says, and therefore allocating resources for marketing is a struggle.

“As a small business, it’s very hard to do promotions. You only have so much money coming in, so you can’t allocate much of it to advertising,” she said.

“My biggest challenge is the snowbirds. I came from Calgary, and we didn’t have the seasonality there—people quilted all year round.”

“The solution for me was in being creative and finding new classes, new ways to draw people into the store.

“We do a lot of mother-daughter events. During the summer we did five-dollar technique classes.

“You have to be creative in how you’re going to approach the slower times of the year.”

Hughes says she’d like to see small businesses receive more funding for advertising to help them keep a steady stream of customers.

These three nominees all agree that there’s more work yet to be done, but they also stress the many benefits that the Central Okanagan offers entrepreneurs of all ages.

Support organizations like Women’s Enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Kelowna Innovation Centre have made the Central Okanagan a great place for business owners, they say.

Grozenok perfectly sums up the state of entrepreneurship in the Okanagan when he reflects on the various business development groups in the region:

“I’ve never had as much help and support as I had when I started my business here in Kelowna.”


Just Posted

Repairs underway to West Kelowna road after flood damage

A portion of Lower Glenrosa Road will be closed until at least Monday says the city

Rally in Kelowna to protest pipeline

Forty people gather outside MP’s office to protest Trans Mountain pipeline project

Protect the Water rally today in Kelowna

The rally will be held at No. 102 – 1420 St Paul Street, Kelowna.

Feature Friday: Is the sky the limit for downtown Kelowna construction?

City building up, not out, as high rise living becomes more popular

Free theatre performance for Lake Country families

Robinson Crusoe + Friday will be performed at Creekside Theatre April 14

What’s happening

Find out which events are taking place in the Okanagan and Shuswap this weekend

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Photos: Salmon Arm celebrates Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie

Hometown hero welcomed home with parade, recognition ceremony at city hall

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

UPDATED: MPs Elizabeth May, Kennedy Stewart arrested at B.C. anti-pipeline protest

The demonstration is part of a day of action against the Trans Mountain expansion

Most Read