Small Business British Columbia launches a platform to help businesses thrive.
Running a small business comes with its own unique challenges - including access to information, tools, and resources to achieve their long-term goals.
"There are over half a million small businesses driving 98 percent of our economy in British Columbia," said Joshua Ludgate, COO at Small Business British Columbia (SBBC), which was founded to bridge that gap. From starting a business, to building resiliency and long-term growth, SBBC helps British Columbia’s entrepreneurs grow successful and sustainable businesses through access to expert business advisors, educational and professional resources, and community events.
SBBC had already been focused on evolving their products and services to equip entrepreneurs with the skills needed to thrive in our digital world. When COVID-19 hit, a pivotal shift was required in how they provided them. "We've always been very active gathering small businesses together in-person and bringing in community partners and service providers to support this community," said Ludgate. "Showing up and engaging is a real, tangible action small businesses can take to reinforce their journey. That's a big thing for us."
“Like most of the small businesses SBBC serves, the pandemic necessitated a quick pivot,” said Ludgate, "We had to use and distribute resources in a different way to create the same connectivity."
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SBBC needed to respond to rapidly changing community needs securely and flexibly.
“We struggle with resource constraints, but not ambition or talent. The craft is trying to balance those two and find a way through it,” said Ludgate.
SBBC knew that British Columbia's small businesses would be one of the largest drivers of rebuilding provincial economies from the effects of the pandemic. “We have to self-generate revenue in order to maintain the level of services we think our community needs,” said Ludgate. "Like many businesses, we knew we needed to adapt." The SBBC team took this as a call-to-action, and when asked by Provincial and Federal government partners to support a response to the challenges of COVID in our community, we seized the opportunity. SBBC developed and deployed a program with clear objectives:
- Cut through the confusion by acting as a trusted information gatekeeper to help keep the community up-to-date on the programs and supports available and confident as the situation moved quickly, getting core content to small businesses fast.
- Create access to a grant program to help small businesses quickly access recovery funding.
- Identify a community of service providers - who were also small businesses - who could be matched to provide needed expertise.
To SBBC, it was clear they needed an adaptable system that could facilitate the growing complexity of their mission to provide a single source of truth in their data. They must be scalable as needs evolved - and they needed it quickly. "An off-the-shelf solution wasn't going to solve our problem," said Ludgate.
An additional factor was security. Participating in a government program meant requirements when it came to the technology tools they could use, so SBBC would need to work with a provider who had already passed government assessment. "We’ve been serving this community for over 20 years," said Ludgate. "And we understood that everything was aligned for us to have an impact, create opportunities, create employment, and keep stable. And that was massive."
Here's how they did it.