Lifecycle of a Business drawing BIG interest at Cowichan symposium

Alana Elliott, Libra Naturals.
Alyson Tomlin, Riot Brewing Co.
Cara Light, MNP LLP.
Caroll Taiji, Taiji Brand Group.
Chris Manley, Resthouse Sleep Solutions.
Grant McKinnon, Pacific Homes.
Kenneth Chiu, Scotiabank.
Mike Smith, Scotiabank.
Peter Richmond, 49th Parallel Grocery.
Zaida Giron, MNP LLP.

If enrolling in the Harvard Business School isn’t going to happen for you, there may be an alternative.

And it could be as close as the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Small Business BIG Day symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

“The program is brimming with dynamic guest speakers and workshop sessions designed to support local small business,” says Alec Wheeler, the Chamber’s events and membership manager.

A two-part panel session called Lifecycle of a Business is drawing particular attention as it tackles the key considerations and framework needed to successfully navigate start-up, early growth, maturity and exit strategy. Moderated by MNP’s Zaida Giron and Cara Light, the panel series will feature six local business owners and two small business banking specialists as panelists.

The exciting part is that the panel will consist of people from the region who have learned from their own experiences of taking a business idea to the market. In many cases, their business college has been the school of hard knocks as they negotiated their way through government red tape and financial challenges to a point where their venture has graduated into the ranks of successful businesses.

Alana Elliot of Libre Naturals and Chris Manley of Resthouse Sleep Solutions will be joined by Mike Smith of Scotiabank on the first panel. They’ll be speaking to their experience in launching a new business and navigating the challenges of the first few years of growth.

Alyson Tomlin from Riot Brewing Co. will also be joining this panel. After a meteoric rise to success in the first couple of years, the brewery faced significant challenges and has recently been the subject of speculation regarding their current operational and production status.

“We had a ton of success and awards straight out of the gate, which you’d think could only be a good thing,” notes Tomlin.

“But the reality is, we weren’t prepared for such fast growth and eventually, cash flow problems caught up with us,” she acknowledges.

“Hopefully, by being open about our experiences and talking bluntly about what we’ve learned — in some cases, the hard way — it’ll help others who are starting a business.”

Tomlin says Riot will be announcing some encouraging news in the days leading up to the symposium that will speak to the Brewery’s future.

Wheeler says the second panel will talk through the later stages of business growth and tackle the challenging topic of exit strategy, whether that’s by way of succession planning or preparing a business for sale.

Panelists include Caroll Taiji of Taiji Brand Group, Peter Richmond of 49th Parallel Grocery and Kenneth Chiu of Scotiabank.

Rounding off the panel is Grant McKinnon of Pacific Homes whose participation is particularly timely given the recent sale of the company to All-Fab Group out of Winnipeg.

“Business succession or selling your business can be one of the most stressful, gut-wrenching experiences you will have in your career,” says McKinnon speaking from his experience in navigating 60 years of growth and transition at Pacific Homes.

“It’s critical that you educate yourself to the process and pitfalls.”

The two panels will run concurrently and symposium attendees will be encouraged to attend one or the other.

Panel 1, Start-Up & Early Growth is recommended for entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses that have been in operation less than five years.

Panel 2, Maturity & Exit Strategy is recommended for businesses in operation more than five years and those looking to step back from their business, by way of succession or sale.

Small Business BIG DAY will be held at the Ramada by Wyndham Duncan on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Each of the sessions can be booked individually. Full day passes, which include both breakfast and lunch, are also available at a discounted rate.

All members of the business community are welcome. Capacity is limited and registration closes on Friday, Oct. 25.

For more information visit or call 250-748-1111.

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