To expand the private sector base, Yukon must cultivate new and growing businesses – Particularly new and growing businesses in Yukon communities, where many potential business owners reside but face difficulties starting and running their businesses. The reasons are diverse, including:
Limited knowledge and experience related to starting and running a business
Limited knowledge of business licensing and legal requirements
Limited knowledge of credit, credit management, and access to funding and debt and equity financing
Difficulty accessing markets (for exportable goods and services)
Limited market sizes (for local markets)
Many of these obstacles can be overcome with access to a knowledgeable business counsellor. Unfortunately, in most Yukon communities, business counsellors are neither available nor are they affordable. Mentors are few and far between, and current business development funding programs are laborious to access, prescriptive in approach, and do not provide the flexibility that entrepreneurs and business owners require.
Business counselling helps new business owners get past the initial hurdles of starting a business helps existing businesses expand their operations in a viable manner, and helps struggling businesses adapt to maintain their viability. Because business counselling improves the transfer of knowledge and skills to community members, the service grows our communities’ long-term capacity to engage in business. We believe that access to business counselling services is essential to the growth of our communities’ economies.
The keys to success for a business counselling service are:
Trust and Confidentiality
Demand for Business Counselling Services
Over a period of three years with 2 to 4 week-long visits per year to Yukon communities (starting with Old Crow, Ross River, and Beaver Creek, eventually expanding to all Yukon communities except Whitehorse), the e-Commerce Yukon Project provided access to a business counselling service with an eCommerce focus. During that time, over 270 unique clients accessed the service.
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in delivered a 10-month pilot business counselling service in Dawson City. The service was available at any time to any Dawson-area resident. In the first five months of service, 59 clients were served, 32 of which were start-ups or potential start-ups. By the end of the pilot project, 90 clients had been served.
As part of its Community Economic Development Strategy, the Old Crow Economic Development Survey found that 53% of respondents had either started or have considered starting their own business. Of those that haven’t done so, the most commonly cited barrier was a lack of knowledge and access to technical support.
The North Yukon READI service serves old Crow, Dawson City, and Mayo. The project had 65 client intakes between the end of February 2016 and the beginning of May, 2017. Of those client intakes, 48% are aboriginal-owned businesses and 62% are proposed businesses. Because the service is provided on a rotating basis, where the business counsellor is in Old Crow and Mayo approximately one week per month, it is expected that program uptake would further increase were services provided in each community throughout the entirety of each month.