Canada is a cool place to run a business. The entrepreneurial spirit is very alive and kicking, there are great resources to support learning and company growth, there’s access to government programs, access to money, and even the banks are friendly. I was recently interviewed for my specific reasons for running a marketing agency in Kelowna, British Columbia. Here are some unfiltered thoughts…
1. What made you start your business in Kelowna?
It’s one of the most desirable places to live on the planet! Small but big, you know? It’s an outdoor wonderland, great lifestyle, lakes, mountains, wine, golf, skiing, biking, boating… The challenge is finding out how to survive here and pay for everything. I started my business here by accident and against my will. I moved here from Ontario in 1997, when I was 21 and fell in love with the area. Amid a career change in my late 20s, I realized being an entrepreneur was my path forward (unless I’d settle for $10/hr but that didn’t pay the mortgage). So against my will I was tipped rudely out of my comfort zone; Twin Creek Media was born in 2004. Necessity is the mother of invention I guess… failure was not an option with a mortgage and young family. We worked extremely hard and survived, learning just fast enough to last another day. The first 3 years were the toughest. Long-time staff Thomas and Christina became invaluable business partners and shared the ups and downs. A decade later, we are so thankful for all the support of family and friends during those early years.
2. Which resources did you use to start your business? (local Chambers, Community Futures, etc)
Every connection counts. The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce (events, training, networking), Downtown After 5 (casual networking in a business setting), and Business Network International (breakfast referral group), and OSTEC (now Accelerate Okanagan) were all super important to me when I started my business. I’d say InvestKelowna.com is my favourite site for facts & figures for people wondering what it’s like to live and work here.
3. Is there a thriving small business community in Kelowna? How do you support each other?
Absolutely. In fact, the Kelowna area has over 17,000 small businesses… the highest level of self-employment in Canada. There are tons of resources and opportunities for support due to the entrepreneurial spirit that is so common here.
4. How do you think the wider Kelowna community supports small business?
We have a small town feel, with big city amenities. People that live here love supporting local businesses. The “shop local” idea may be trendy right now, but in smaller cities, towns, and villages, it’s not a new idea at all. It’s normal life.
5. What makes Kelowna different from other communities?
The focus on lifestyle is the biggest difference. Kelowna attracts people for so many reasons… great scenery, activities, temperate climate, water, mountains, lack of crowds, and big city things like university options, a large modern hospital, sports events, etc. On the negative side, it’s a bit expensive to live here. I think the pros far outweigh the cons.
World Map Scaled According To Population Density by Reddit User, TeaDranks
(Note: Canada almost disappears because of our low population vs. huge landmass… in my opinion this translates to lots of space and opportunity!)