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Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC

Tom Conway

CEO, Small Business BC

In many ways, British Columbia can be considered Canada’s home of entrepreneurship. Over 98 percent of businesses operating here employ fewer than 50 people, with approximately one-in-ten British Columbians running a business of their own, covering everything from private tutors to manufacturers and consultants. These businesses employ 43 percent of all workers in our province forming the backbone of our provincial economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the connectivity challenges many of these businesses face. Spending habits shifted dramatically during two years of pandemic living, with Canadian consumers turning to online shopping in significant numbers. While many businesses in our community have led the way in instigating their own digital transformations, many more need support in creating a robust online presence to connect with their customers and a growing online marketplace.

Small Business BC (SBBC) is a community-led non-profit resource centre that exists to help BC entrepreneurs start and grow their own businesses. As our own operations pivoted online due to public health measures, we heard our community loud and clear in their need for increased support to execute their own pivots. SBBC knows all small businesses should have sound knowledge and advice to support the launch of their e-commerce storefronts, investment in their online brand presence, and adoption of digital-first solutions in their strategic planning.

Unfortunately, many of our rural, Indigenous and isolated communities have faced infrastructure challenges in getting their businesses online.

“Unfortunately, many of our rural, Indigenous and isolated communities have faced infrastructure challenges in getting their businesses online. Over 150,000 homes in British Columbia still lack access to basic broadband internet connectivity. Alongside this issue, the creation of an e-commerce storefront isn’t a simple undertaking. At Small Business BC, we’re striving to meet this need with the development of products and services that will empower entrepreneurs to be agile and confident in their business choices,” says Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC.

Supporting these basic small business needs isn’t just common sense, it stands to improve the quality of life across our province while boosting local economies. BC-based small business advocacy group LOCOBC estimates a 10 percent shift in BC consumer spending towards small businesses will have widespread benefits for our provincial economy. It will generate an estimated 15,000 jobs while keeping $4.3 billion annually in our local economy.

“As someone who cut their teeth in the world of brick-and-mortar retail, I know physical storefronts will always be relevant for small businesses. Despite this, the need for a strong digital presence is something businesses will increasingly need to embrace. COVID-19, BC wildfires, and flooding have put this need in the spotlight.”

“Now, more than ever, we need to continue providing a range of affordable and accessible supports to help small businesses harness and grow their sales, brand presence, and community impact online. As more and more businesses embrace our digital future, it will reinvigorate our communities, provide meaningful employment, and positively reshape the Canadian economy for years to come,” Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC.

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