SMARTstart is delivered over 8 months in Airdrie. Entrepreneurs who are accepted into the program take part in the following:


1. Online learning via GoForth Institute

  • 100 Essential Business Skills™ program
  • 15 classes to complete on your own time
  • Video lessons – plus downloadable summaries, quizzes & slides

2. Seminars

  • In-person small group sessions
  • 11 sessions (1.5 hours each), alternating between lunch & evening sessions to accommodate work and personal schedules
  • Topics include financing, marketing, taxation, networking and more
  • Delivered by local experts
  • Plus 2-3 fun Peer-to-Peer sessions where you share ideas with fellow participants and mentors in an informal setting

3. Mentorship

  • Each entrepreneur is paired with an experienced local business owner (volunteer mentor)
  • Mentors share their experiences and effective small business management practices
  • Mentors provide guidance to entrepreneurs as they develop their plan

Learn more about being a mentor and meet our mentors.

Plan Creation

Having a plan is what SMARTstart is all about.

Each entrepreneur walks away from SMARTstart with a plan they have created to set their business up for success.

  • Entrepreneurs meet with a Business Advisor from Community Futures Centre West to set learning goals and determine what plan they will create
  • One of three plan types is completed: a business plan, feasibility study or strategic plan
  • Mentors and program organizers provide tools and support

The creation of a plan is foundational to SMARTstart. It is expected all participants complete or update a plan by the end of the program.