Organization equips Okanagan businesses with pandemic tools

Community Futures sees success in its all-virtual Small Business Week seminar series

Community Futures North Okanagan hosted free virtual valley-wide seminars during Small Business Week. (Contributed)

Community Futures North Okanagan hosted free virtual valley-wide seminars during Small Business Week. (Contributed)

A series of web seminars have helped equip local businesses with tools that may aid in adapting to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community Futures of the North Okanagan — in collaboration with Community Futures across the Okanagan, community partners and local chambers of commerce — launched the series to mark Small Business Week (Oct. 18-24) and business services manager Kazia Mullin said it was very successful.

“We have fantastic community partners that we collaborate with,” Mullin said, adding the virtual component allowed for a greater turnout and farther reach.

More than 150 tickets were sold to the virtual seminars which were held on HopIn, a virtual meeting platform.

“It was our first event like this that’s not on Zoom,” Mullin said, noting it threw some people off but was an excellent learning opportunity.

“We had participants from all over the valley,” she said. “And since it was virtual, that means we can bring in speakers from all over South Okanagan up to the Shuswap.”

They even streamed in a speaker from Nunavut who works with the Kelowna-based tech company Banana Tag.

Presentations focused on topics ranging from finances to digital marketing and creating workplaces people want to work in.

“The topics are questions that come to us pretty regularly from the business community as a whole,” Mullin said. “When we came together at the end of summer we asked, ‘what are you seeing in your community? What are the issues?’ Unsurprisingly, it was the same issues across the board.”

Those issues included how businesses prepare for tax season, manage their financials and keep afloat when the 2020 fiscal year planned for didn’t come to fruition.

Marketing questions also topped the list. Mullin said marketing is always a relevant topic, but especially so in a COVID-19 world when the web has become more competitive and “noisy.”

Topics touching on creating a safe workspace with the capabilities of adapting to ever-changing COVID-19 regulations was also a priority identified and covered in the seminar series.

“As a small business owner, it’s pretty overwhelming to learn all these new things and wade through all the options,” Mullin said. “The seminars gave people some direction and arm them with the knowledge to feel confident.”

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the community,” Mullin said following the series of seminars.

Now, Community Futures is progressing on its planning for the annual Enterprize Challenge which will be an all-virtual event slated for the beginning of 2021.

More details on the event will be presented when they become available.

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