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How to find business resources in your community

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Starting your own business is a daunting mission for most people, but it can be especially intimidating for military veterans who are still transitioning back to civilian life. Going from the structures and systems of the military to the do-it-your-self style of the entrepreneurial life, it might seem like the two callings share little in common.  However, you may be more well-equipped than you think. Military service and entrepreneurship foster many similar traits, from leadership to resiliency to strategic planning.

Of course, you still might be overwhelmed by the whole process of starting a business, and whether your business idea is viable. To help fill in some gaps in knowledge and gain a better understanding of your industry, it’s useful to consult some experts. There are valuable business resources all around you—in your local community and online—that can help guide your vision.

Operation Entrepreneur’s resource page

It’s always a good idea to embark on some extensive research before you jump into any project. But with an abundance of organizations, business groups and charities out there that aim to uplift business owners, it’s often difficult to know where to start. That’s why we curated content and compiled a list of online and community-based resources to help guide you on your entrepreneurial journey.

Expand your knowledge through networking

The foundation of both the military and business world is building and maintaining strong relationships. These relationships are especially valuable for entrepreneurs just starting out who might be feeling isolated, out of their depth or unsure of their ideas.

Active networking unlocks a whole new realm of information, opportunities and insights within the people you meet. Especially in the early stages of your business, networking can help you meet established players in your field who can be knowledge banks you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.  Interacting with other entrepreneurs in different fields can also give you fresh perspectives on your idea. 

Some groups in your community that you can reach out to for networking opportunities include:
- Local chambers of commerce
- Industry associations
- Mastermind groups

Online event listing websites can also be useful in finding the right networking event for you. Some websites include Meetup and Eventbrite.

Reach out to a professional in your field of interest

Networking events can be hectic or rushed, and you might not get enough face time with the person you wanted to talk to. The next step after meeting someone, whether that be from an event or a mutual connection, is to establish a one-on-one relationship with them. Follow up with people after your initial meeting and arrange a casual coffee chat to get to know them and their business better.   

You can also reach out to people running a similar business, whether that be online or in a networking group, and arrange a phone call or coffee meetup.  Informal meetings are a great, low-stress way to interact with professionals and learn more about your industry specifically.

One-on-one consultations with a business organization 

There are a multitude of small business-focussed organizations across Canada that offer some helpful services for entrepreneurs, including free or lower-cost, in-person consultations with business experts.  

Entrepreneurs can book appointments with experts from organizations to assess their business proposal, identify costs and help build a framework for their business model. These focussed consultations are great for individuals who know what they want to work on and have specific questions.

Some other consultation services offered in Canada include: 
- BDC  
- Small Business BC
- Small Business Enterprise Centres (Ontario)
- Business Advisory Group

Operation Entrepreneur one-day workshop

Operation Entrepreneur hosts free, one-day workshops for transitioning veterans who are interested or curious about starting their own business. Workshops are held in military communities across Canada and dive deeper into the topics covered in this post, including how military skills can transfer to business ownership, components of business planning, where to network and more.   

One-day workshops are open to all Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, reservists and their families.