By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley

As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more people are considering starting a small business. But operating one isn’t easy, and navigating post-pandemic uncertainty is a challenge.

Statistics show that roughly a third of new businesses fail within their first two years, and half exit within their first five years. So it’s vital that small business owners gain the expertise they need to survive and prosper. 

An excellent place to start is the Georgina Chamber of Commerce, which offers many programmes, including ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions, which are open to everyone.

Each one focuses on different topics. The latest targeted grants and loans, and the interest was such that the event was sold out!

Amanda Stewart, Small Business Advisor with South Lake Futures, told us, “We provide loans from federal money, at lower rates than banks can offer. There will be specific grants for restaurants, tourism, innovation, and more.”

She also warned everyone to stay linked: “You must follow us on social media and be on the mailing list, because changes happen quickly.”

Workshops and one-on-one consultations are also offered, for example meeting with an accountant or marketing specialist.

Sean Columbus, Economic Development Officer with the Town of Georgina, explained about cultural grants. He said, “There are grants available to celebrate the culture of Georgina, as well as to promote tourism in our town.”

He highlighted the fact that, because of COVID, many fees are reduced or even waived for small businesses.

New in Georgina is Yspace. They offer many programmes, identifying in particular the need for online marketing, which requires businesses to have digital skills. Free sessions are starting in February and run until the end of April.

Meghan Bold, owner of the new business ‘Bold Steps Dance Studio’ and one of the participants, commented, “In order to be successful, you have to be visible in the community, and to support everything local. I am attending this event because I want to learn how to create more awareness about my business.”

GTTI is also offering a free seminar series to help entrepreneurs, topics include business planning, tax and accounting and legal issues. The seminars start on March 8, and are available in person or on Zoom, Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.

The best place to start for any Georgina business is to check out the websites for the Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Georgina, South Lake Futures, Yspace and GTTI:

Georgina Chamber of Commerce: https://www.georginachamber.com/
Town of Georgina, Economic Development: https://www.georgina.ca/doing-business/economic-development
South Lake Futures: https://southlakefutures.ca/
Yspace: https://www.georgina.ca/doing-business/economic-development/yspace
GTTI: https://www.gtti.ca/training/upcoming-program

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