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As I was looking for inspiration to write my first blog post as Executive Director of Business Link, what came to mind was passion. A passion for business, a passion to grow, a passion to be an entrepreneur.

Since June 10, I have been welcomed to this amazing team of individuals who are truly dedicated to building jobs and business in Alberta. This team is inspiring and passionate, qualities which are needed in entrepreneurs and those who serve entrepreneurs. The type of passion on this team is contagious. They lead by example and show up every day to help entrepreneurs across Alberta build their businesses and succeed.

Being an entrepreneur is a challenge: it is a decision that does not come easily to anyone, and Business Link team members understand this. Many of them are and have been entrepreneurs, as evidenced by our recent blog on Side Hustles at Business Link. The advice and guidance they provide is invaluable to entrepreneurs no matter where they are in business—startup, growth, succession.

I have been able to tour the province from Edmonton to Lethbridge to Grande Prairie, Calgary to Fort McMurray, and met with our team members, stakeholders, entrepreneurs and service providers. All are dedicated to helping Alberta entrepreneurs grow their businesses and grow jobs. 

What I have learned is that Business Link is vital—the first stop for anyone looking to start and grow their business. It is essential for entrepreneurs needing practical hands-on business advice, helping them make decisions and enabling them to grow prosperous Alberta businesses.

Most entrepreneurs don’t start off thinking about how they will impact the economy or change the business landscape. They have an idea, an inspiration, a passion, and they follow that opportunity. What happens then is inspirational. That idea grows to a business, the business gets investment, the investment creates jobs, and that grows our economy. Alberta is a province driven by entrepreneurs: as many as 98% of the businesses in Alberta are small businesses and the main drivers of our economy. That is inspirational, that is passion.

What I have learned is that the Business Link team is passionate. This amazing, diverse, passionate team works hard to help the progress of entrepreneurs in Alberta. Whether they are out in the community, driving hundreds of miles to support Indigenous entrepreneurs, working with rural communities to host entrepreneurship Power Up seminars, engaging with recent newcomers to Canada to help them build businesses and create jobs within their communities, or on the frontlines answering calls, emails or chats to help entrepreneurs answer questions about regulations, business planning, and financing. This team has what it takes to help entrepreneurs in Alberta build businesses and create jobs.

But I’ve also learned that Business Link can do more. In each community I visited, every time I spoke to a partner, entrepreneur, team member or stakeholder, I learned that the need is great, and we can do more. More rural outreach, more helping with succession planning and sustainability, more support for established businesses that want to grow and create jobs, more opportunities to connect people to information and support. It is a need to grow the passion, and I take inspiration for what Business Link can be, will be, from this.

I look forward to my time here at Business Link and am excited about future opportunities. I look forward to connecting with more entrepreneurs, more engagement across Alberta communities, and more opportunities to help build partnerships that serve Alberta and Albertans.

Alberta is an entrepreneurial province, and at Business Link we get to see that every day. 

I am inspired and passionate about how our economy can grow and how successful entrepreneurs help build that economy by creating investment and jobs. I am inspired about how Business Link can support them and continue to grow that support.

Thanks to everyone who has shown me their passion over the last two months. Thanks for the inspiration. If you want to share your passion or inspiration with me give me a call (780-422-7774) or drop me a line (barbara@businesslink.ca).  


Ready to take your next step towards starting your business?

If you are looking for one-on-one support for your small business, give the Business Link Business Advisors a call at 1-800-272-9675 or email askus@businesslink.ca. You can also visit the events page for upcoming activities!

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Barbara McKenzie

Barbara is our executive director and brings over 30 years experience as an entrepreneur, innovator and leader to the team in non-profit, corporate and government environments. She has a background in marketing, communications, business development, fund development, and international business. At Business Link, her goal is to lead a team of professionals who provide client service excellence and support Alberta entrepreneurs in growing and diversifying our economy both locally and globally.

Barbara is passionate about work/life balance and uses her “life” time to enjoy her time with her husband, step-kids and furry children at their lake cabin, camping and time spent outdoors in summer and winter, as well as reading, photography and volunteering in her community to support organizations like the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.
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