Columbia Basin Trust Strengthens Small Businesses

By Contributor
April 20th, 2009

 For entrepreneurs, running a small business often feels like a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job. From managing employees to finding and retaining customers, from developing marketing strategies and working with either an increased or a decreased demand on their product or service – entrepreneurs are always thinking about the next move towards business security.

Yogita Bouchard and Claudia Kavcic are co-owners of Mountain Water Spa in Nelson, a full service wellness spa. Bouchard has been a client with CBT’s Basin Business Advocates (BBA) on-and-off for four years, participating in the program for various aspects of her business. Bouchard says BBA has been a guiding hand to her and has influenced the increased success of her business.

“I found BBA through word of mouth when I first started my business,” she says. “I didn’t really have business experience. I was a therapist, so I was looking for ways to educate myself on things like marketing, cash flow and the law surrounding contract employees. In a small town you don’t always have the ability to take business courses that you might have in a larger city, so it was a big bonus to have BBA right here in my own community.”

Since 2000 Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has been strengthening small businesses in the Columbia Basin through the BBA program. With many communities facing economic challenges today, CBT hopes entrepreneurs will access the program to assist with their stability and growth.

“Our Basin Business Advocates Program is a way for entrepreneurs to add to their suite of business skills or expand their knowledge on their business operations,” says Aimee Ambrosone, CBT Manager of Planning and Development. “We hope that business owners will use this program and realize the potential this unique program offers to Basin companies.”

BBA provides free one-to-one business counselling on a range of business issues including marketing, sales, financial management, human resource management, succession planning, business expansion, inventory control and exporting. The business involvement in the program ranges from one or two meetings with the Business Advocate to an in-depth analysis of the business. The program also provides a contribution to the cost of specialized consulting services, should that be needed to move the business forward. 

Bouchard says she also used BBA for guidance on spa management, analyzing the spa industry and with contracting consultants for work on restructuring her business and reviewing her business figures to provide direction.

“It is such a benefit to have someone that can provide an outside perspective, because in the day-to-day our own perspectives narrow. Also, we all have areas of weakness that BBA can help educate us on and help us be proactive in improving. For me, every project with BBA has made an impact on my business. I’ve gone from working all the time, not paying myself and only have contract employees, to paying myself and having permanent staff and the business keeps growing.”

This year, CBT has allocated $240,000 towards this program and has provided more than $2.6 million since the program began in 2000. To date, the program has helped 827 businesses.

To participate in the program, businesses can contact Steele O’Neil and Associates at 1.877.894.5939 or visit http://steeleoneil.com. The Business Advocate for the East Kootenay is Will Nixon, and he can be reached at 1.250.427.2783. The Business
Advocate for the West Kootenay is Deanne Monroe and she can be reached at 1.250.825.4171.

More information is also available by calling CBT at 1.800.505-8998 or visiting www.cbt.org/Programs.  CBT delivers economic, social, and environmental benefits to the residents of the Columbia Basin.



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