Pictured here are Danae Brousson, Dr. Louicius Michel and Dr. Kwame Adom of Burman University’s School of Business. The University’s Small Business Centre is hosting several speakers next week to mark Small Business Week. Mark Weber/Lacombe Express

Pictured here are Danae Brousson, Dr. Louicius Michel and Dr. Kwame Adom of Burman University’s School of Business. The University’s Small Business Centre is hosting several speakers next week to mark Small Business Week. Mark Weber/Lacombe Express

Burman University to host several sessions for Small Business Week

Informational sessions run in Lacombe and Ponoka

With the goal of supporting local businesses, Burman University’s Small Business Centre is hosting information sessions locally during Small Business Week (Oct. 16-22).

Kicking things off is ‘How to Grow Your Business’ with Dr. Robert Opoku, chair of the Donald School of Business in Red Deer. This session runs Oct. 17 from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at Ponoka’s Community Golf Club and breakfast will be served.

On Oct. 18, Jo Phillips, CEO of Jo(e) Social Media, will speak on ‘Women Entrepreneurship’ at Burman’s School of Business. This session includes breakfast as well.

On Oct. 19, Chelsea Nespor will speak on ‘Managing Change Effectively’ (a Dale Carnegie workshop) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the County Room at the Lacombe Memorial Centre (lunch is included) and on Oct. 20 there will be a Small Business Marketing Roundtable with Dr. Kwame Adom, an associate professor of business at Burman and Iwinet Steward, director of marketing and enrolment at Burman.

Breakfast will be served.

Anyone interested in any of the free sessions is asked to register at www.burmanu.ca/speakerseries by Oct. 14.

Most private sector jobs are within the small business community, said Dr. Louicius Michel, Burman University’s chair of business. He said a small business is defined as a company with less than 100 employees.

But many in the category – described as micro-businesses – have five or fewer workers.

Ultimately, according to statistics, this category of the nation’s business community provides about 93 percent of private sector jobs, he explained.

Michel said small businesses also contribute between 30 and 34 percent of provincial GDPs across Canada, and around 26 percent of Canada’s GDP overall.

But about 53 percent of small businesses across Canada don’t last beyond the five-year mark.

To that end, Michel noted that it’s not just critical to instruct students on the very latest in business management and development but to also share insights and information with the community at large. He added that there are three main causes that negatively impact a small business’s ability to survive.

One is a lack of marketing. The second is not having proper financial management. This is often due simply to a lack of time, as managing a small business can often, as mentioned, fall on just a few people.

“The third cause of that high attrition rate is a lack of strategic thinking – what are the long-term prospects? How do you prosper and grow your business? How do you keep it going?

“But again, they may not have time to strategize or to make a plan for the future.”

Adding to the challenges is that it’s estimated that the province, within its 10-year plan, anticipates a significant labour shortage, particularly within the small business community.

With these challenges to the business climate in mind, The Small Business Centre was launched in August of 2019. And Michel emphasized the goal is to also help local business owners in their quest for sustainability and success.

Burman also connects students to businesses for projects, and the feedback is very positive, he said.

“The concepts that we teach make more sense when the students can go out and observe the (practical) application in a real-world business,” he said. “We are here to help. And we build this into the learning processes of the students,” he said, describing it as ‘experiential’ learning. “There are benefits for the businesses as well.”

Next week’s programs are also a part of that strategy, but these types of workshops and opportunities are offered all year long as well, he said.

“The number one message that we really want to come out of this is that Burman University School of Business not only belongs in the community but it also belongs ‘to’ the community,” he said, adding that the goal is also that the school remain responsive to the needs of the community at large.

“We want to be in line with specific needs in the community.”

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