Imagine a blank canvas. Now imagine four walls being painted, a vibrant co-working space being designed, business coaches and resources being added to the picture, and eager individuals filling the room. This image is being brought to life in the community of St. Albert.
The Northern Alberta Business Incubator is excited to announce the development of our newest incubation resource – NABI Commons. It will be a place where entrepreneurs, program partners, community members and mentors come together to embrace and explore the world of business.
“We’ll have coaching, programs and events going on, as well as public drop-in time,” explained Aaron Budnick, Program Director, NABI. “It will be a space where there is always someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of and learn from.”
NABI Commons is considered a collision zone where entrepreneurs can gather to utilize incubation resources, share office space, engage in peer mentorship, build connections and host private meetings to enhance or kick start business.
Some of the building amenities will include:
“It’ll be something really unique, especially in St. Albert,” expressed Budnick. “There are similar types of spaces in downtown Edmonton, but not everyone wants to go to downtown Edmonton. NABI Commons won’t have an industry focus, it will be an open and vibrant multi-use space, and the location is super accessible for people within the Capital Region.”
The facility is expected to launch in January. Stand by in anticipation as NABI transforms a blank canvas into a place where ideas collide, opportunities are born and business incubation lives.
Stay tuned for more information on this new co-working space. Learn more about NABI click here
Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship, Alberta, Circa 2015 (4615 words from my diary, perhaps best tackled after a glass of wine.)
By Dar Schwanbeck, CMC, Managing Director, Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI)
First, thanks to all who shared a “congrats” note on my 10th Anniversary at the Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI). It’s a living lab for entrepreneurship and great place to work! Over the last 10 years I’ve engaged some 2,000 start-ups and small businesses. This is on top of 25 years as a practicing Management Consultant and another 1,000 client/prospect discussions.
With 3,000 conversations under my belt one might ask, “What have I learned about entrepreneurs (Part 1), the entrepreneurial playing field (Part 2), and what’s next? (Part 3).
PART 1 - ON BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR: Hurdles to Small Business Success and How to Overcome Them. (Note: This list is not exhaustive; rather a set of challenges we see over and over again. The point is, ignore any 2 or 3 of these and your business will not endure!)
1. Your business has to succeed as a business. Even if your intended service or product is as world-changing as you imagine, it will not produce, promote and sell itself. It is remarkable how many entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of basic financial literacy and business acumen: organizing and managing resources; planning marketing and sales; and thinking sober thoughts about finance and cash flow. Every business will die from upside-down priorities and lack of execution. Take time to discover what you need to know to succeed.
Success doesn’t always follow from knowing the right things to do and finishing them, but it sure won’t if you don’t.
2. Really have a competitive advantage. I still marvel at how difficult it is for entrepreneurs to be objective about this, especially given how critical this issue is!! I think the essence of the problem lies in the age-old asymmetry of the marketplace: producers make products and consumers want problems solved. Unlike the General Motors and Proctors & Gambles of the world, entrepreneurs are especially prone to being infatuated with their own stuff and underestimate how ruthless consumers are in their decision-making.
Competition is defined by market behaviour, period. Unless you understand your customers’ problems, why they buy and their options as they see them, you have no idea how easy it will be to ignore you.
3. Your willingness to sell is (still) a key. When I ask a room of aspiring entrepreneurs which of them enjoy selling, I ask those who haven’t raised an arm to give serious thought to leaving the room. For many people, selling isn’t natural, easy or enjoyable. For entrepreneurs, though, selling has to be a way of life. So you see the problem… Whether the entrepreneur was Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, success was directly related to their expressed passion. All three of these guys, and many like them, were tireless promoters. An entrepreneur without passion is unlikely to be successful. An entrepreneur with unexpressed passion has failed to harness the best and cheapest asset they have.
As a founder or small business owner, you will have to persuade all kinds of people–customers, investors, suppliers, staff, landlords, etc.—to do things they otherwise wouldn’t. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, was happy giving his invented technology away. Steve Jobs, less technically proficient, made a point right from the beginning, to ask for a premium over the alternatives already available and touted the differences justifying the price. He sold ease of use to customers and the value of charging for it to a reluctant Woz. That general orientation- total ease of use- has remained unchanged as a differentiator for what is now the biggest public company (by capitalization value). Sales aptitude, training and experience are useful, but (as in many pursuits) self-confidence and blind optimism are often passable substitutes for wisdom and ability. Rejection, whether deftly avoided or just swallowed, is something you have to contend with. (Just be very careful if you find yourself perpetually surrounded by idiots who say ‘no’…you might be holding on to the wrong end of the confidence stick.)
4. Know - and articulate - the worth of the problems you are solving. Long-term success depends on your ability to align the products you offer and the processes that create and deliver them with customer-desired outcomes. Ideally, those outcomes would be important, enduring and universal and your product would be the only or by far the best means of achieving them. Successful businesses identify opportunities and strategize responses at this most fundamental level of value-creation.
Are you planning to deliver enough value to enough customers? Put another way, is the pleasure of using your new product or service indisputably far better than the known pain customers are experiencing? It is important to understand that a prospective customer who is not in pain (they recognize) is not ready for what you have. Everybody hates New York taxis. That presented the perfect opening for Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber. On the other hand, if acquiring or using your solution merely exchanges a new set of pains for the ones they already have, you have not created compelling value.
5. Technology is one (but not ‘the’) key. Entrepreneurs have to do a lot of different things. Technology can transform almost any of them into push-button joys or time - and/or money-sucking nightmares. Everything from websites and social media, to accounting software and point-of-sales systems are in play. (This is all on top of your actual production or service delivery challenges. Chances are there are one or two key technological hurdles facing you there, too.)
The delusion to avoid is that Technology Will Everything. Too often, I’ve seen entrepreneurs investing tears and treasure in low - or negative-value solutions. When technology seduces you into solving the wrong problems, you lose the war, even when you win the technology battle.
6. Think technology application and distribution, not creation. Contrary to popular culture, very few new (successful) businesses are based on the introduction of novel gadgets. Most entrepreneurs introduce business process or market innovations. True, prosperity is fueled by innovation, but this is mostly about technology application and distribution, not creation. Small businesses excel at the former, not the latter.
7. Think global, act local. Most small businesses do not export, yet many face global competition. Ignoring this does not make it less true. But neither does indiscriminate promotion of ‘export readiness’. Businesses that are not competitive at home are unlikely to find more favorable conditions elsewhere. For many small businesses, the appropriate strategic response is to make their product more localized, not less. For example, imported solar system components could easily be bundled with non-importable local services – but local service policy needs to meet or exceed what global competitors are offering. In solar world this often includes free engineering and design services. And here’s one that even surprised me – last week I ordered 5 new dress shirts and 3 ties from an online vendor based in London, England (I live 6,801 km away in Sturgeon County, Alberta, Canada). Charles Tyrwhitt offered a very unique promotion in the Economist and offered a way-too-friendly, web-based shopping experience which cost me C$650!
8. Have a clear vision (goal) for your business. (Is it Big and Smart?) If you don’t have a firm and tangible commitment to achieving some future state of affairs, how can you make decisions, assign resources and coordinate action? In my experience, the right time horizon is three years and the (vision) measure is closely linked to a priority customer-desired outcome. Don’t pretend you know what the world will be like in five years. Do constrain yourself to a realistic objective. Hockey stick growth is as rare as it is desirable; fiction is not your friend.
In this regard, I find cold, hard numbers sobering. Decide what the really key numbers are – number of accounts, unit sales, profit, customer satisfaction, whatever – and drive the stake. One key measure I like to see for every entrepreneur is their version of “VMG” – velocity (and direction) / made good (toward your specific BIG goal). “VMG” is a term borrowed from Orienteering.
Spoiler alert: there is a 50% chance these metrics will serve as early indicators of failure, but that’s okay. Pilots use altimeters at night because they are preferable to the other way of finding out where the ground is…
9. Make sure to have your (whole) story nailed down. There’s no harm in following this or that trend when it comes to your pitch; good ones fit into anything – elevators, decks, tweets, etc. but beware that fondling the disruptive sex appeal of your concept doesn’t distract you from the fundamentals. What category are you doing business in? (Lots of people have tried to convince me that they are breaking entirely new ground. So far, none have.) What is your competitive advantage? Who makes up your supporting ecosystem? How do the members of your team complement each other? Where’s the money coming from and going to? When? What is your basis for believing your product has a market?
Tweet pitches are poetic distillations of your concept, enigmatic products of a spiritual journey within. Business planning is more like workaday journalism – answer the basic ‘W5+H’ questions and you’ll have told anybody interested everything they want to know.
10. Be curious or don’t bother. Great entrepreneurs are typically information junkies – they need to know what’s happening in their industry, with their competitors and especially with their customers. They get irritable and eventually jittery if they aren’t in touch. Markets are only getting bigger and faster, so even maintenance updates aren’t enough – you have to learn about new stuff. Plan to spend 30-60 minutes every day. (That’s half a day a week, for those of you wondering where entrepreneurs spend their evenings and weekends...)
11. Be prepared, equipped with a strong work ethic and discipline. Are entrepreneurs naïve, lazy, or both? Many entrepreneurs seem unwilling to do the work necessary to succeed. The love affair with their products continues, but the need to understand the complexities of doing business does not get anywhere the attention it deserves. If you’re not willing to do the work, don’t start. And, until you understand how much, and what kind of work will be necessary, that “yes” doesn’t count.
Spoiler alert: You might spend as little as 10% of your time doing that thing you love so much you decided to build a business around it. Bookkeeping is a long way from pie baking. Remember that one definition of an entrepreneur is it refers to the person willing to work twice the hours at half the income to avoid working for someone else. Let’s be clear, we are all working for someone else. Love it and know which of those you work for are most important to satisfy in the long run.
12. Investors want return-on-investment, and you should too! Best-selling author Seth Godin sums it up nicely, “They (investors) want you to put the money to use building an asset, something that works better and better over time, something that makes your project more profitable and more efficient. And, they want you to use that asset to create value that will pay them back many times over.
Most small businesses ignore both of these desires. There's so much stress from being on the edge, it feels like money will relieve that stress. And in the short run, it will. But if it doesn't build an asset, soon you'll be back to the edge, with the added problem of having an unrepaid investor as well.
Assets (buildings, machines, powerful brands, new technologies) are less essential than ever before. For many organizations, a laptop is worth more than a building or a punch press. That's great if you're getting started, because the connection economy has made the cost of entry lower than ever before.
It also means, though, that the easy-entry business you're in might not respond well to the investor's money. If there isn't an asset you can buy and build and defend and monetize, you're much better off not chasing one.” (Source: Seth Godin post, February 6, 2016)
13. Money: have it, grow it, keep it. Everyone knows that it takes some sort of money to start a business (equity investment, loan, etc.). And most realize it takes other sorts of money to sustain a business (revenue, cash flow, profits, etc.). What too many entrepreneurs get wrong is how much of all of these their business will need, now and down the road.
The physicist Richard Feynman once said: “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” For start-ups, money is like that. Find a Third Grader and demonstrate your pro forma with monopoly money.
PART 2 - ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN ALBERTA: The Playing Field is Muddy, Competition is Tough and We Need to Change Our Game. Ideas for those who support entrepreneurs.
Startup Canada, on the launch of the Canadian Entrepreneurship Institute, said "there is a lot we can do to create an entrepreneurial government that will create the conditions for startups and small businesses to scale as large, job-creating anchor companies in Canada." This is a great idea; what are the implications for Alberta?
1. Leadership is the engine; technology is the enabler. Recent revolutionary transformation has been enabled by industry application of technology, not technology by itself. Information technology is a good example of technology that enables innovation; innovation comes from industry leaders (Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick and others) who understand how to use technology strategically….and who can figure out business models that work for all stakeholders.
2. Small companies should get big company help to commercialize technologies. Big Fish are increasingly either necessary allies or overwhelming opponents. And the ally now who really loves you is likely to be the overwhelming opponent later unless you are highly nimble and somewhat paranoid. You are hoping your business might possibly scale. Scale is what they already are and already do. In mature, well-capitalized industries (and name one that isn’t), freestanding innovations are difficult to exploit and are easily smothered. Patents are generally worth far less and eclipsed far sooner than independent inventors expect. Getting paid requires creating value, which depends on making sales, which means reaching consumers, which follows from achieving distribution…
3. We may be too focused on shiny new things. The reality is that we will address the widest scope of the economy by supporting service-based entrepreneurs (50%+ of fast growth), not ones based on technology commercialization. Most of our GDP (both produced and consumed) is in services. The vast majority of small businesses are in services and so are most of the new ones.
Services, services, services! However, to understand how tricky it is to be successful in service, see if you can find agreement among any ten people on what “service” means. If we can’t agree on what it means with practical utility, how will be achieve success? (Good thing there is a way to solve this. See “What’s Next” below).
4. Emphasis should be more on entrepreneurial performance and less on economic diversification. Diversification is a complex, emergent market response to exogenous factors (economist speak for ‘stuff beyond our control’). There are a lot of reasons why various efforts to ‘diversify’ economies come to naught (most of them involve magical thinking about shoulder-checking existing markets and large pools of policy-compliant consumers).
What we can influence and support is the capacity and performance of the entrepreneurs that show up. (The breadth of opportunities they perceive and chase determines the diversity of an economy. How innovative, productive and successful they are determines its strength.) An engineering firm that addresses a known customer pain-point has a much greater chance of creating a sustainable job than yet another “compass app” for a smart phone.
5. Let’s fix the economic engines. Re-training workers may not be the right emphasis in an economic downturn. Perhaps we should be working to improve the efficiency and performance of the economic engines (i.e. businesses). There’s no point in training the drivers (or subsidizing the passengers) of an underperforming fleet of vehicles.
6. Finance repairs with money shifted from technology R&D funding. Are we making sufficient progress with the money almost totally allocated to technology R&D in Alberta (about $800 million annually)? How are these R&D projects doing on the Velocity Made Good measures? And when, if ever, are projects killed? Are there plans and milestones associated with R&D? Should some of the investment allocated to R&D be redirected to entrepreneurial capacity building?
7. Let’s choose better and faster (entrepreneurs) over both more and cheaper. It is a rare small business in Alberta without untapped opportunities to innovate. Many are suffering from low competitive advantage, whether they are in a fragmenting market or a consolidating one. Without the differentiation created by innovation – whether it lies in product, process, organization or market strategy – price is the default basis for competition and market entry. A race to the bottom of that barrel is bad for everyone (even consumers, in the long run). And, (entrepreneur) improvement efforts need to be company focused, not sector, program or geographically based (e.g. the Alberta Voucher program addresses market validation for technology, yet comes up short addressing the human potential to commercialize).
Entrepreneurs are typically domain experts (or, at least, enthusiasts) and business neophytes. We need to lower barriers to entry, but also gate-keep and build business capacity. Simply increasing the number of entrepreneurs will probably increase failure rate. We want better, not more, entrepreneurship.
8. Entrepreneurs often don’t know what they should know to succeed. This is an extension of the old four quadrant “competence” and “awareness” window which proposes that there might be critical skills or variables that must have our attention if we are to succeed. An example is outlined.
This window suggests a couple of very critical challenges for any entrepreneur improvement intiatives: 1) Any surveys in which we ask the entrepreneur what he/she needs to grow his/her business has a high probability of delivering incorrect results, and 2) in online-based training, entrepreneurs will most-likely pursue topics of interest, or what they think they need to know.
9. Entrepreneurs deserve high quality, specific advice. Alberta has a lot of advice/support for small business, but is it up to the quality it should be? Frankly, we can’t do very much to alter the number or composition of those eager-to-be entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship has always been a largely individual response to a perceived socioeconomic environment and personal situation. There are things we can do to help some of them survive and thrive. But maybe we should also strive to be more honest with those considering it. Early, high quality advice would help reduce the personal and social costs of entrepreneurial failure.
Intervening in infeasible concepts and faltering businesses pays diverse socioeconomic dividends. ‘Prevention’ and ‘palliative care’ are neglected aspects of community-centered, real-world entrepreneur support.
High-potential, committed competitive swimmers deserve competent coaches; they have the aptitude and ability to make good use of them. But, recognizing that we don’t turn away people who want to try swimming, isn’t posting lifeguards even more important?
10. Entrepreneurs can benefit from personal coaching. Entrepreneurship is like fitness…it benefits from direct, professional guidance that takes a very specific, approach to working on identified weaknesses, leveraging existing strengths toward attaining individualized goals using a conventional set of tools. Global trade is like the Olympics, and how many Olympians do you know that have not had professional coaching? This can be done in a shared environment; some work is possible, or even best done, in small groups.
Expecting individuals to achieve success on their own with inexpensive, one-size-fits-all, pre-packaged materials is to indulge in the kind of self-delusion that fuels after-hours infomercials. Results will vary, and we all know in what direction...
11. Let’s help our entrepreneurs give their customers what they want: Why food courts work and why we should apply the same rules to food trucks! Its simple: customers know where to go to get fed; they want choice and to be able to buy dessert right next to the main course. Choice and entertainment sell more. If you doubt that, check out retail big box sales per square foot. There is so much more we can do to help our entrepreneurs connect with their customers (regulations, traffic, zoning, process cycle, etc.).
12. Are we asking the right questions? Alberta is still a heavily resource-based, export-dependent economy. Or, at least, the economy we want to have (back) has a carbon-based foundation. Is pain-free diversification away from oil the right dialogue? Isn’t the pertinent question either “How much can we produce at $20 per barrel?” or “What does (or should) Alberta’s economy eventually look like if we sell (a lot) less oil?”
How does entrepreneurship and innovation policy respond to those questions? (And, setting aside a presumption of 100% congruence between policy and reality, how about the entrepreneurs and innovators, themselves?)
13. We need clear, specific outcomes. We (our governments) need to clarify and prioritize economic outcomes we want to achieve and avoid. There are different types of growth - some are mutually exclusive (e.g., increasing productivity may diminish investment and/or jobs). “Growth” and “jobs” are frequently glued together as sound-bites, but they don’t suffice as a clear road map for the direction we want to go. It’s time to be specific about what we want without the juvenile pretence that we can have it all. Alberta needs to envision and create the future it wants. Conventional approaches will not be sufficient. This future needs to be communicated as part of activities that motivate existing and potential entrepreneurs.
14. Business incubation is based on self-selection. Clients cannot be lead to the entrepreneurial waters nor made to start. A conventional political mantra is “we shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners” – that may be true, but the reality is that we can’t predict or manufacture winners, even when we try.
So we ought to apply ourselves at supporting a broad base of interested citizens and offering specific kinds of help to small businesses.
15. Bureaucratic-led initiatives for entrepreneurs seldom work. The job of government is to reduce/avoid risk; the job of the entrepreneur is to take risk; a mismatch between policy objectives and entrepreneurial interests. The role for government is to create an approachable, reasonably safe playing field that does not, itself, create barriers or dangers.
This is more about installing high-quality neighborhood jungle-gyms than devising a high-visibility, ‘own-the-podium’ gymnastic program.
16. Government’s job is to create the playing field. Governments can be much more entrepreneurial and supportive toward helping local business succeed - purchasing, product trials, etc. - but notice that they are here acting as market participants, not masterminds. Also, governments should work much harder to reduce regulation and shorten cycle times. Economic development strategy that is focused on growth from within will have much more success than any attraction strategy.
17. We get the entrepreneurs we deserve. Enhancing the performance of Alberta’s entrepreneurs requires a significant change in thinking as well as a significant shift in how we invest support resources. Today we support products and technology (i.e. highly scalable Silicon Valley thinking); what we need is acknowledgement that we live in a services-based economy, where we need investment in human capital and capable firms. And, we probably don’t need more investment, just a shift in focus and resource allocation.
PART 3 - WHAT’S NEXT? Lets try a pilot program to build entrepreneurial capacity.
If we want to be successful at innovation and diversification in Alberta, on a significant scale, start-ups, small businesses, big businesses and government all need to work together to address market access, regulations and finance. Conversation is full of platitudes, yet little advice on how to practically start working on this agenda. Below is an agenda for action.
1. A pilot program to connect entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and government agencies (all levels) to create enthusiasm and develop entrepreneurial skills through a structured program of transformation. The idea is to demonstrate that we can materially enhance the capacity of our entrepreneurs. An initiative of this scope needs to involve many Provincial departments and should probably be sponsored at the Executive Branch level.
2. Develop core program delivery capabilities in Alberta using existing resources that have demonstrated exceptional results in other jurisdictions.
3. Dramatically increase the number of new non-petroleum businesses that survive more than 5 years and grow an average of over 50% per year, and size increases beyond 20 employees.
4. Provide a new business excellence system, skills and tools to 2,020 entrepreneurial leaders by the year 2020. The idea is to showcase/plant the seeds of excellence province-wide. Perhaps something like a “Growth Voucher” (similar to a technololgy voucher) could be used as a catalyst to attract the attention and engage firms with growth potential (the “cheese” in the growth machine).
5. Establish and support up to 20 entrepreneurial business projects in 2016, likely to have a marked impact on business success and economic diversity, beyond what would otherwise be achieved.
6. Establish and support up to 10 intrapreneurial demonstration projects with Provincial government agencies in 2016 to make measurable, sustainable, innovative improvement that benefits its business and citizen customers, especially those involved in pursuits that will result in economic diversity for Alberta.
7. Generate at least 5-to-1 ROI across all projects (intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial) within the first 18 months.
8. If steps 1 to 7 are successful, scale it up and do it again for as long as it takes. My hunch is that over 5 years we could impact at least 2,000 entrepreneurs and generate $1 Billion in incremental sales.
File: Entrepreneurship in Alberta Circa 2015 (06 March 2016)
How NABI can help...NABI has the expertise you need to walk away with the next steps needed to Grow your business, manage your risk with NABI.
Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures: Voucher Program
The Alberta Innovation Voucher program, offered by Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures, helps small technology and knowledge-driven businesses in Alberta get their ideas and products to market faster. The program facilitates the movement of Alberta companies from the concept and formation stages into the growth stage, preparing them for success.
If you are looking for a service provider to assist you with your Vouchers, or any other project, NABI has Certified Management Consultants (CMC) and the expertise you need.
Business Coaching & Counseling
Whatever challenge you are facing in your business, whether you are starting up or expanding, NABI's experienced and competent business coaches can provide you with the advice and direction you need.
The best solution is found through one-on-one, face-to-face interactions with someone who has been where you are and can help you get to where you want to be. Our coaches can provide you with proven methods for success and lead you step by step on the pathway to success. NABI's Business Coaching will give you the advantage you need to build, grow, and succeed.
Book your FREE initial 90-minute high quality session with one of our experienced Business Coaches. At the end of the coaching sessions you will walk away with the next steps needed to Grow your business, manage your risk with NABI.
Business Plan Programs
Whether you are just starting out or an established organization, an up to date business plan is a valuable asset to any company. Our programs have flexible start dates with many different payment options. Set up a meeting with a NABI Coach to decide what path to take.
IDEA Breakfast Series
Join NABI over breakfast while we will Inform, Discuss, Examine, and Advise local business owners, managers and potential entrepreneurs on a variety of topics that have a direct impact on your company's bottom line. This new series from NABI will occur twice monthly with each bi- monthly session exploring a common theme.
The IDEA Breakfast Series is highly interactive and will encourage you to explore ways to increase the success of your business and create repeat, happy customers.
Management Advisory Services
The Northern Alberta Business Incubator has been a hub for business learning, mentoring and advising for 25 years. At any one time, hundreds of entrepreneurs representing a wide range of industries and stages of development are actively
connected to NABI and to each other through structured workshops and informal hallway conversations, one-on-one coaching sessions and in depth feasibility reviews.
NABI is also a great place to battle test our advisors. Few consultants have the opportunity to interact with individuals and companies as diverse as can be found in NABI's offices and classrooms. The wide range of business challenges and opportunities found here attracts advisors and mentors already capable of addressing them. This experience broadens and deepens their capacity to offer meaningful market and operational insights and useful business guidance.
NABI Business Venture Lab
Venture Lab is based on Wendy Kennedy's program So what? who cares? why you?®, which has been adopted internationally in 9 countries and is used by more than 10,000 entrepreneurs, inventors and scientists.
In the past 5 years, we've helped entrepreneurs, inventors and startups from all fields, including technology, retail, non-profit, food services, engineering, and more. Some of our most successful participants have taken their products to Dragon's Den and made deals with the Dragons!
Events & Workshops
Walk away with new insights, new skills, and an awareness of new possibilities! Our guest speakers are experienced professionals; the topics of the lunch & learn workshops vary from workshop to workshop and are determined by demand. Business education workshops vary in duration from 1-hour sessions up to a half day on different business related topics. Start learning the basics or take your skills to the next level!
Need more information on our NABI programs click here. Grow your business, manage the risk with NABI get started today! You can also contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 780.460.1000.
Every year thousands of business professionals gather to recognize and celebrate entrepreneurship across Canada during BDC Small Business WeekTM (SBW). Small business should be honoured in all communities, which is why the Northern Alberta Business Incubator and St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce are hosting a series of SBW events:
Schedule of Events for Small Business Week
Wednesday, October 12: Business@Lunch Kick off this year’s celebration with a St. Albert Chamber luncheon where the 2016 community award nominees will be acknowledged. This is the perfect opportunity to congratulate the nominees and connect with local business professionals over a delicious lunch spread.
Thursday, October 13: NABI Octoberfest - Scavenger Hunt Join NABI, Chamber members and more for a unique networking event where you’ll learn about “Marketing Done Right” during an interactive scavenger hunt. A combination of learning, connecting, beer tasting and cheese pairing... What more could you want?
Wednesday, October 19: NABI Venture Lab Orientation In the spirit of entrepreneurship, see if your business idea has what it takes to be successful during NABI’s Venture Lab orientation. Learn how NABI coaches can help bring your idea to life so you can become a coveted SBW award winner one day.
Thursday, October 20: 2016 Small Business Awards of Distinction, Presented by Audi Edmonton North Held in the Arden Theatre, the Business Awards of Distinction features the presentation of numerous awards to deserving businesses in our community. Strap on your heels and slip into your best dress shoes for an evening of proud recognition, live entertainment and tasty cuisine.
Also, stay tuned for the announcement of NABI’s next SEO-focused lunch and learn, which will be hosted during SBW. Learn how to improve the search rankings of your small business so you can become the next community success story.
To see the full schedule or register for a SBW event, visit www.stalbertchamber.com and nabi.ca.
The public is invited to our:
GRAND OPENING of NABI Commons!
St. Albert's newest co-working/drop-in space! Our new space features low-cost shared offices and desks. These versatile spaces can accommodate all types of events and is ideal for startups, small businesses, freelancers, and visiting consultants.
Come and enjoy pizza and beer with our team and reserve your spot at NABI Commons co-working space!
For more info on NABI Grand Opening contact email@example.com or call 780-460-1000
Kevin O’Leary, Cold Hard Truth, on Business, Money & Life
Short Book Review by Dar Schwanbeck, CMC, Managing Director, NABI
Once (or if) you can get past O’Leary’s hard-assed, unflinching love of money, he does offer valuable insight into entrepreneurship, business and life in general. Perhaps what’s most interesting is that Kevin is pushing us to be real in our relationships and business dealings; it just so happens that money is his chosen currency. For some of us our currency might be time, perceived status in the community, etc., but whatever it is, let’s not waste it….nor detract from those who want to accumulate more of it (e.g. money, status).
Because we at NABI work day-to-day with entrepreneurs, I particularly enjoyed some of the later chapters (i.e. 8 through 12). In those sections he talks about dealing with failure, tough times and rejection; the soft and emotional sides of making a pitch to investors; knowing your audience; a list of key questions that every entrepreneur should be able to answer (whether in front of investors or customers), and of course, the need to be on top of your “numbers.” And he’s not talking about the absolute numbers: he’s referring to the underlying assumptions and facts that support your numbers. Throughout these sections he offers many practical tips.
I guess what I liked best is that he gives real, straight feedback and has no time for BS. Somehow I think the world could use more of this. A good guide and inspiration; a recommended read, 247 pages, DoubleDay Canada, 2011.
A farmers’ market is a retail market featuring goods sold directly by farmers to consumers. Due to the growing interest in healthier foods and local products, there were about 6,000 farmers’ markets in the United States in 2012. In St. Albert, the Farmers’ Market is in its 31st year, has over 250 vendors and serves about 15,000 people each summer; economic contribution may be in the range of $5 million to $10 million.
Business incubators help with the process of starting and growing companies. They offer shared office services, access to equipment, flexible leases and expandable space, all under one roof. There are about 2,500 business incubators in North America. In St. Albert, the Northern Alberta Business Incubator Society (NABI), now in its 24th year, is home to about 100 small businesses, which, in 2012, generated $70 million in sales and a payroll of about $12 million.
So far, we see strong parallels between farmers’ markets and incubators. Each provides business frameworks where small entrepreneurs can succeed. But what else?
At markets, farmers can gain new sources of revenue, get higher prices, diversify their skills, access networking and learning opportunities and reduce their costs for land, buildings and lighting.
In incubators, entrepreneurs get just the space they need — no more, no less. Most have short-term leases that reduce the risk of starting a business. They get the support services they need, and can access all sorts of learning opportunities.
Seems entrepreneurs have a lot in common with farmers!
With both, more money is spent locally, and it circulates longer. Both provide outlets for local products and services, helping to start new businesses and expand existing ones. They reinforce local job and business networks, maintaining local employment. Incubators and markets generate traffic for nearby businesses; they help diversify local economies.
At farmers’ markets, people can meet neighbours and enjoy the atmosphere. They also get fresh food at competitive prices, increased choice and a stronger community.
Incubators are good for consumers, too. Incubators can produce services and products closer to home. Consumers get to deal directly with company owners and experts, and prices are often lower.
Incubators and farmers markets have many similarities and a few differences, but both are good for the community, good for small business and great for consumers — and we have both in St. Albert.
Northern Alberta Business Incubator Society (NABI)
13 Mission Avenue
St. Albert, AB T8N 1H6
200 Carnegie Drive
St. Albert, AB T8N 5A7
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday 8:00am-4:30pm
Mountain Standard Time (MST)
Closed Saturday, Sunday and Holidays
Directions to NABI: Click Here