Getting SMARTer

Did you know Airdrie is home to more than 50 well-prepared entrepreneurs thanks to a program called SMARTstart?

SMARTstart offers tools, training, mentorship and business planning to about 20 people each year. The program, completed over an eight-month period, helps new and prospective business owners survive, and thrive, during the crucial first years. One of the biggest benefits of SMARTstart is the mentorship – participants are matched with a local business volunteer.

Now in its fourth year, the 2017 cohort includes 21 entrepreneurs representing 18 diverse and interesting businesses.

This non-profit program is designed and delivered by Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, City of Airdrie Economic Development and Community Futures Centre West.

In this issue of airdrielife we meet six of the new entrepreneurs and their mentors.

Entrepreneur: Erica Hatch SMARTstart Airdrie
Age:
39
Business Idea: Balance Within Osteopathy
Years in Business: 1
What business or business leader inspires you most: Walt Disney, Sage
In five years I see my business: providing the residents of Airdrie osteopathic services.

Mentor: Jody Keller
Age: 44
Business: K.T. Keller Holdings Ltd.
Years in business: 13
What I wish I knew then that I know now: Review your business plan regularly.

 

SMARTstart AirdrieEntrepreneur: Vladimir Gonzalez
Age: 45
Business Idea: Maxi Foods, authentic Mexican food
Years in Business (if applicable): Idea stage
What business or business leader inspires you most: Cesar Millan, a.k.a The Dog Whisperer. He arrived to the United States with no English and was homeless for two months. He followed his passion and over the time he helped people work through behavioral issues they were having with their dogs.
In five years I see my business: generating $720,000 in yearly sales, with at least eight employees.

Mentor: Sid Van der Meer
Age: 60
Business: Retired owner of Northwest Equipment Ltd.
Years in business: 31
What I wish I knew then that I know now: That there is a lot more to running a successful business than just being a good salesman. Many businesses start out doing what they do best and end up doing what they are not good at “running a business.”

 

SMARTstart AirdrieEntrepreneurs: Adam Boccinfuso, Veronica Boccinfuso
Age: 34, 28
Business Name: Bocc Home Inspections Ltd.
Years in Business: 2
What business or business leader inspires you most:
Adam: Kevin Simpson, my former business coach, who runs two very successful businesses in Canmore; and Chris Odd, a fellow home inspector, who acted as a mentor for me. Veronica: I am inspired by all the winners of the Airdrie Business Awards; listening to their speeches they all had similar things in common: perseverance, community involvement and creative solutions to better serve their target market.
In five years we see our business: As one of the most trusted, reliable and respected home inspection companies in Airdrie and Calgary area. We envision our company expanding with a team of personable and knowledgeable inspectors.

Mentor: Kari Lines
Age: 36
Business: Budget Blinds of Airdrie
Years in business: 9
What I wish I knew then that I know now: There are going to be ups and downs. Enjoy the ups and don’t get discouraged during the downs. Work smart and hard, and learn as much as you can by attending training courses, reading books, or meeting with networking partners and mentors.


SMARTstart Airdrie

Entrepreneurs: Heather Dunbar, Maryanne Warnke
Age: 57, 56
Business Name: Home “Maid” Help
Years in Business: 1
What business or business leader inspires you most:
Heather: My brother Warren who successfully ran a business for more than 30 years and just recently retired. Maryanne: Brett Barclay. He is successful, stays positive and has strong leadership skills.
In five years we see our business: Being successful with enough growth that we will have employees working with/for us while maintaining a strong clientele.

Mentor: Gary Armstrong
Age: 58
Business: Empowered Employee Education
Years in business: 7
What I wish I knew then that I know now: Sales drive business. Sales is not necessarily selling. It is, without question though, serving.

 

SMARTstart AirdrieEntrepreneur: Heather Doyle
Age: 54
Business Name: Loving Hands Partners in Care
Years in Business (if applicable): Opened January 2017
What business or business leader inspires you most: From a community perspective, Magic Mountain Daycare is very impressive and is a model I would like to mirror.
In five years I see my business: To be a valued leader in my community and to continue to grow, expanding to other communities.

Mentor: Tracy Goodbrand
Age: 53
Business: Irricana Kountry Kennel
Years in business: 30+
What I wish I knew then that I know now: Find and take full advantage of a business coach so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

 

SMARTstart AirdrieEntrepreneur: Jennifer Lisoway
Age: 34
Business Name: Pure Creations Events & Design
Years in Business: 1
What business or business leader inspires you most: My inspiration comes from many avenues. My many years at WestJet have shown me to be diverse and ever changing. My biggest inspiration is my mom; she has overcome many obstacles and has run a successful hair salon for over 20 years.
In five years I see my business: Offering a variety of services and branching out to create a network with other vendors and within our community.

Mentor: Jennifer Benner
Age: 39
Business: Benner Database Designs
Years in business: 8
What I wish I knew then that I know now: I wish I had realized that it’s okay to say no once in a while. It’s very easy to lose focus when you are being distracted by other people, projects or things. I should have been more strategic in my commitment

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