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
- 10 modules to complete on your own time
- 30, 20-minute video lessons – plus downloadable summaries, quizzes & slides
- 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
- 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
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.