Published On: Friday, 11 November 2016

Small Business Our Bloodstream? Entrepreneurs - The Red Cells!

Small Business Our Bloodstream? Entrepreneurs - The Red Cells!

- Kim Smythe is CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

NANAIMO - If small business is the lifeblood of our economy, entrepreneurs are the red cells in that bloodstream.

In Nanaimo, well over 90 per cent of business licenses are held by micro and small operators – every one of them entrepreneurs. They are the ones investing risk capital to start up and grow new businesses, to employ Vancouver Island University (VIU) graduates, intake entry-level employees, to create, innovate, and… to fuel Nanaimo’s economy!

In a recent national report, Nanaimo was ranked at #40 in Canada on an ‘entrepreneurial-friendliness’ scale for the last couple of years. Not bad, but not impressive considering we jumped up about 50 points in previous years.

Kelowna and Penticton both ranked in the top 10 in Canada this year – in case we need a little competitive motivation to help us think about improving our standing, improving our economy and improving our potential for personal success.

The report’s measurement criteria included ‘Entrepreneurial Presence, Perspective and Policy’. Presence refers to the number of business establishments that can be called entrepreneurial. Perspective refers to places where business owners are most upbeat, and Policy refers to cities where local governments support entrepreneurship and business owners rate their government efforts highly.

Where did we score high and what do we need to work on? No surprises. Quality of life – extremely high. Spirit of entrepreneurial startups – moderate to high. Government’s understanding and support of small business -- rated low to extremely low across all levels.

The report tells us we’re likely to attract entrepreneurs because our cost of living is moderate (for Vancouver Island), our quality of life is top notch, and local resources like VIU, the Chamber of Commerce, Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, and Community Futures are in place and support entrepreneurial spirit.

But to take it to the next level, the political will of elected leadership must be fully aligned with the community’s vision of its economic future. Implementing local government policy that strongly supports economic models engineered to energize entrepreneurialism must be in place to help us grow as a successful city. 

Local government needs to continually be made aware of this. The Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in Nanaimo, but we all have a part to play in communicating with our government representatives to reinforce these ideas.