The York Small Business Enterprise Centre
is one of 48 small business enterprise centers across the province. Here in York Region,
80% of our clients are extremely small businesses, in micro-businesses, and we are primarily
serving main street businesses – so your retailers, hairdressers, accommodations, some
small technology companies as well. On average, we do about 450 consultations
per year, so it’s quite a busy team. We offer a range of services from market research consultation
to one-on-one business advisor services. We run seminars and workshops and business
plan development sessions. We review business plans and we deliver three or four programs
for the province of Ontario. Or we’re consultants. We’ll work with the
clients one-on-one, understand their needs, help them to get the reports that they need.
Once the clients do some of that initial research, they’ll come back and get more information
that they can use in their business plans or their marketing plans, and they execute
their growth strategies. One particular vein is market intelligence.
They need to understand: What’s the demographics? Who are these people? What are their preferences?
Where do they spend their time? We teach our small business clients how to
do market research and one of the key tools that we use is the Environics Analytics Tool
Set. This is a really powerful tool for small business
owners, especially those that are hyper-local. The Data, Analytics and Visualization team
is the keeper of data at the Region. They introduced the Small Business Centre to Environics
and helped us identify what was possible through the Environics data
Start-up businesses, they’re gathering information, confirming their markets, so they use the
Environics tool to look at a location, or where they’re located, or where they’re planning
to start, and then look at what kind of consumers are in the area – demographic information,
household spending, educational level within the parameter of their trade area.
Using Environics, they’re able to locate, this is where the market is, this is where
my potential clients are. This is a viable business, that there is someone who would
be interested in purchasing their product or service.
We have a really good relationship with Environics. They’ve helped us to help our clients.
We have small businesses that don’t know what they don’t know. They know they need market
research, but they can’t put their finger on it. And Environics has helped us to crack
that nut. Working with these clients makes me feel quite
satisfied because I know that through the work we’ve done at the Small Business Centre,
we’ve had an impact. Over the last 10 plus years, we’ve had 4,600
consultations. We’ve seen where we have been able to drive millions of dollars into economic
impact, into the community, through the support that we provided.
And you know, by virtue of exploring some interesting relationships, like the one we
have with Environics, I think we are one of the top small business centres in Ontario.