June 30, 2011

Starting a new business is both exciting and challenging and while loans are often provided to entrepreneurs with excellent business ideas, money alone does not guarantee success.WW Bus Ex

Over the years, the Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures Development Corporation (WWCFDC)noticed that good business training opportunities were lacking and responded by creating a full service training program that would assist the entrepreneurs in creating excellent ventures.

The Business Excellence Training Program was recently recognized with an Award of Excellence in Business Support Services at the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporation’s Annual Conference, held this year in Niagara Falls.  The WWCFDC was given the prestigious award for the implementation of the Business Excellence Program.  The award winners are selected based on how innovative the initiative is, how it impacts the community and local economy, and whether the concept can be successfully used by another CFDCin a different region.

To fill the need for good business training opportunities, a new position was established within the WWCFDC to create a self-sufficient training program available to local businesses and loan clients at an optimal fee.  This new program could then serve as a model for any CFDC to implement regardless of their present staffing situation.

Tina Heathers was the one hired to research and develop a training program.  After meeting with loan clients and business owners to uncover the entrepreneurs’ needs, Tina developed a comprehensive program combining training sessions, workshops, and consulting.  “We want to surround business owners with every possible resource they would need,” says Tina.  “So instead of just attending one workshop here or there or reading one book, we want them to come to the workshops, work with a mentor, do the business coaching, watch the online videos so that they will have every aspect of the business covered and be thoroughly supported in their approach to growing the business,” she adds.

The WWCFDC has 32 active businesses in the program including The Bar Store; a family owned and operated woodworking company that was recently approved for a loan to help them with expansion.  “We got involved in the training program to help us utilize our financing that we have, to know where to put it so we don’t waste it,” says Steve Humphries, Owner of The Bar Store.

Tina talks about the sense of community within the Business Excellence Training Program to which she attributes much of the program’s success.  “The business owners really enjoy coming to the workshops, networking with other business owners and focusing on the core skills that are really necessary to grow their business,” she adds.

The Business Excellence Training Program is helping local businesses throughout Wellington-Waterloo, something that Manager Rick Whittaker hopes will inspire other Ontario communities.  “We’re honoured to be recognized with the Business Excellence Award, and we hope other CFDCs can benefit from this,” Whittaker says. 

Photo:  Sponsor Sharon Wilson presents the trophy to Wellington Waterloo CFDC.  Business Development Officer Tina Heathers, Board Chair Paul Rogers, and Manager Rick Whittaker accept the honours for their training program.