Business owners and aspiring business owners shared their thoughts

On Friday, March 6, Catholic Social Services in Alberta Avenue hosted a free event called Building Your Business.

Only two current business owners were at my table, but the group also had aspiring business owners who had owned a business in the past. Organizers recorded conversations to provide feedback to the government on how to improve assistance to small businesses.

Emmanuel Aluko, owner of G16framework Media Productions, shared insights about his web development company. 

“An online presence is very important for marketing and connectivity,” said Aluko. He also emphasized that “a lot of people are good at what they do, but are not making money. How can you stand out? Everyone is fighting for visibility and exposure, they all want to be on top. This can be achieved by effective search engine optimization.”

Tahir Masud, who owns a franchise restaurant and is in real estate, advised, “You have to keep working hard with continuous innovation to keep the business going. People tend to relax after the business is growing, but they should keep in mind that there are many other businesses competing for the same number of customers.”

Gerald Mobuogwu arrived in Canada as a new immigrant in January. He is eager to establish himself as a business owner in his new home. “While in banking, I kept seeing the challenges of small and medium-scale enterprises, so I feel compelled to do something. If you check newborn babies, they have all the features of an adult which will later mature. A business can be referred to as an artificial person,” said Mobuogwu. He also aspires to start a business club. “My challenge is that it is a new system. If I was in my own country, I would know what to do. Here it is very structured, organized, and highly regulated. Based on this system, one has to be methodological, careful, and seek support to make sure that the step taken is calculative.”

The facilitator asked the group if they think there is support for small business owners, and the majority responded that there isn’t much support available.

Aluko said, “It is difficult to start, integrate, and access financial support.”

Hussam Ammar, an aspiring business owner, expressed similar sentiments. He stated, “There is no guidance to go through the process and it is very hard to find financing. If everything is good you find financing, but if you don’t have everything in place, then [there is] no financing.”

There was a consensus that business owners need more information, mentoring, workshops, networking, resources, and guidance to build a roadmap to ensure all risks and uncertainties are covered.

Participants shared what they think is essential for business success.

Mobuogwu said, “The business world is a platform for economic warfare. We the small microenterprises need to reposition and restructure.” He gave as an example the recent use of solar energy. “What has changed is that we [need to] reposition. A small business is a collateral risk, but financiers are looking for business, so we need to work collectively.”

“You have to understand the market needs first,” said Ammar.

Aluko added, “It is a different game from what you have been taught in school and a different idea when you meet with clients. Commitment, consistency, and time is a major factor. If you lose one client you are losing your business, so you need to be able to sell yourself.”

Featured Image: Gerald Mobuogwu was one of the participants at Building Your Business. | Supplied