Business Link has seen a record year in 2017 with over 15,000 interactions occurring across the province between January and November, up 45% from the same time in 2016… and the year is not yet complete!

As a non-profit organization that helps Alberta entrepreneurs start their own businesses in one of the most entrepreneurial provinces in Canada, business has always been good, but 2017 has seen a significant increase. Why, you ask? As much as we would love to say it’s because of our amazing smiles and charm, we have a feeling there are other contributing factors. Here are a few that we anticipate contributed to the rise of new entrepreneurs in our province this year:

Economic Downturn

Alberta’s economy has been through a steep decline over the past few years, and although positive signs are alluding to a climb out of the recent recession, some Albertans are looking for a new way to generate income on their own terms. Enter entrepreneurship—a place to be your own boss, doing what you love every day without being dependent on the oil and gas industry.

Alberta = Entrepreneur Friendly

Although Alberta’s business environment is no stranger to entrepreneurship, it sure has seen a spotlight shine on it with increased awareness from having more supports than ever being introduced. ATB has created entrepreneurship centres in Calgary and Edmonton, the Alberta Government has funded several incubators across the province through the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program, and entrepreneurial conferences, co-working spaces and events are popping up everywhere. With all of the marketing and buzz around these initiatives, it raised the profile of entrepreneurship as a viable career option for those who find themselves out of work or who are simply looking for a new opportunity.

Increased Collaboration

The Alberta entrepreneurial ecosystem is full of a wide range of service providers. 2017 saw individuals and organizations in the ecosystem collaborating, on purpose, to understand how each of their services fit into and complement the linear path of an entrepreneur’s journey. Cross referrals and partnerships developed from this collaboration, which allowed entrepreneurs to become familiar with all the supports available to them so they can tap into what they need at the right time. Rainforest Alberta and 150 Startups are a few examples of initiatives that emerged based on this premise. Here at Business Link, we have also formalized a few such synergies by entering into shared position agreements with AWE, Momentum, and AMA—all complementary service providers to what we do.

The Year of the Pivot

Entrepreneurs are inherently innovative, so when tough times hit they take a step back and ponder what they can do differently to be sustainable and competitive in possible new markets. Business Link saw a 36% increase in calls from seasoned business owners this year who were in search of market research and information on new market segments that would diversify their business.

As 2017 comes to a close, we are anticipating that the New Year will bring a continued demand from aspiring entrepreneurs across the province. Top trends we are already seeing for incoming inquiries include: how to start a business in the marijuana industry, what is social enterprise, and how to tap into creative financing solutions. Our team at Business Link receives constant updates and training on new regulations, legislation, and topical business trends in order to be the best advisors we can for Alberta entrepreneurs—so call us today to see how we can assist you!

We admire the risks you take to start and run a business in Alberta.

We’ll help you with your next step, whatever it is.