Would $5,000 help your small business start, succeed, or grow? Each year the Muskoka Small Business Centre (MSBC) selects 10 to 12 small business owners from across Muskoka to take part in a program called Starter Company Plus (SC+).
The business owners selected for the program each receive training, business plan support and most importantly, mentoring from industry experts and local small business owners. At the end of the program, each small business owner who completes the program will have the opportunity to apply for one of 7 grants of up to $5,000 to help support their business start-up or growth. This year, the deadline to apply for the program is August 15th.
Over the last three years, this program, funded by the province of Ontario, has had 19 successful grant recipients. Fourteen of those business are still operational, despite the pandemic.
“Small business owners come from many different educational and employment experiences,” Elizabeth Cornish, Managing Consultant of the MSBC, explains. “They are experts at doing the work of the business but need to learn how to run or grow their business effectively.”
The people who go through this program come out knowing how to maximize their efforts, reach their target customers, understand how to use social media, traditional advertising, and word of mouth to grow their business and learn about the financial aspects of running a business. In other words, the program gives people an advantage in the marketplace.
“While the pandemic has presented unimaginable challenges, and some local businesses have closed, MSBC saw a rebound in the number of individuals booking consultations, which may indicate increased business starts. In 2021 our consultation numbers were closing in on the 2019 peak,” Elizabeth shares. “What we are seeing is individuals taking advantage of changes in the local market demand for certain products and services and seeing an opportunity to start or grow their business in alignment with that.”
Starter Company Plus is designed for existing businesses that are looking to grow, people who have a “side-hustle” they are looking to turn into a full-time business or someone who has a business they are ready to launch.
Visit www.muskokasmallbusiness.ca/programs/ and look for the Starter Company Plus program. Review the program information by clicking Learn More and then review the eligibility criteria on the downloadable Application. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can download and complete your application, submitting it by August 15th.
Businesses walk away from the program with a clear plan for the next phase of their business and the skills and ability to follow through.
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