How are we going to compete?

December 17, 2013

I imagine that there are a few communities on the southwest coast of BC, and the southern interior that look at the prospects of LNG in the north with some degree of envy.  Communities across the north have been attracting workers to their petroleum and gas rich areas for years now.  LNG will just extend that and deepen it over the next couple of decades. 

Projects in the south can offer nice tidy 3-5 year projects, probably all well-paying jobs, but then what?  The lure of the north is that one can count on moving there and raising a family there…the work won’t run out any time soon.

On the north island we have been dealing with population loss for many years.  Perhaps it has slowed most recently, but we still see declining populations of students in our schools and workers in our core industries.  A recent survey of Port McNeill and Port Hardy high school students indicates that the trend is continuing.  Yes, students want a safe community to live in, but they also want good jobs and the “amenities” that communities to the south, or perhaps further north can offer. 

How do we create a region, communities and neighbourhoods that are attractive to young workers and their families?  What’s it going to take to compete with the petroleum and gas rich north?  What’s it going to take to get our young adults to move back here after their training is complete? 

Not everyone wants to work in a community with a single industry focus, where housing will be hard to come by and the winters are far more severe than our ocean-tempered south coast.  But does that mean that young workers and their families will locate here for the jobs that do exist in our forest or marine industries? 

It doesn’t.

We have to attract workers and their families here.  We have to create a region, communities and neighbourhoods where outsiders can see themselves living.  We have to lead with our natural beauty and wilderness, but we have to offer more. 

Families want employment for themselves, good education and recreation opportunities for their families and a sense of community pride. 

We need a vision for our region and communities that takes us down the road to the (re)development of communities that have a lot to offer. 

It’s not just about the wilderness and cheaper housing!  It’s got to be more than that to be a difference maker to outsiders looking in.  We need to make investments in our future: good schools, recreational facilities and welcoming town sites.

The choice is ours.  We can make those investments or we can continue to watch populations dwindle and our towns slowly die. 

David Mitchell,
General Manager

Top ten reasons to start your own business

September 11, 2013

Ten reasons why upcoming 2014 could be your year to shine

In 2011 there were approximately 385,100 small businesses in British Columbia; they make up 98% of all businesses and employ over a million people. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Here’s what I believe are the top ten reasons why you should consider starting your own business.

1. Be Your Own Boss

For once you can be your own boss and be in charge. You’ll have the flexibility you’ve always dreamed of and this gives you the chance to make all the crucial decisions.

2. Follow Your Goals and Dreams

Operating your own business will finally allow you the opportunity to embark on that career you have always wanted and envisioned.

3. Profit

The chance to profit in your business is entirely viable. As long as your business plan is structured and you have done your research and calculated realistic budgeting. Also there is always the opportunity for future expansion.

4. Have a Second Career and Subsidize Your Income

If you have a business that is run by others you can always keep the career you are presently in or find another one. This allows the opportunity for dual income at the same time as owning a business.

5. Challenge Yourself

Small business start-up allows you to discover your full potential and take a different path. It gives you an opportunity to learn new things which can be very fulfilling.

6. Huge Opportunity Possibilities

This is your chance to capitalize on the opportunity nobody else was embarking on. It’s your chance to make a thriving business you know will be successful in your community and use this to your advantage.

7. Business Owner Perks

As a rule, you can deduct any reasonable current expense you paid or will have to pay to earn business income. The expenses you can deduct include any GST/HST you incur on these expenses less the amount of any input tax credit claimed. Also there is opportunity to travel for conferences and meet new people and also sample new products. Also let’s not forget the flexibility which allows you to balance your family and your work. But most importantly the overall sense of accomplishment that you will feel by successfully running your own small business. You can take pride in knowing you provide employment for others and have established a business all on your own.

8. Create Strong Relationships

The great thing about owning a small business is you to get to develop more personal relationships with your customers and employees. This can help develop strong and loyal clientele and employees which in turn will help your business thrive to its maximum potential.

9. Choose Your Co-Workers

Having your own business allows you the opportunity to pick your co-workers. Also a great way to hand pick employees that are suited to your business and who can provide the knowledge and skills you will need to make your business a success.

10. Give Back to Your Community

Opening your own small business is an excellent way to provide jobs in your community and also provide a service to the community that it may be lacking. It can be an excellent economy booster and attract tourists as well.

Danielle Gaudreault

Ten keys to building a successful consulting business

March 21, 2013

In my 35 years as a professional in human capital-related roles, I have found a strong correlation between those who are employed “intrapreneurs” and those who are successful consultants.

One definition of intrapreneurship from Wikipedia is, "…refers to employee initiatives in organizations to undertake something new, without being asked to do so. Hence, the intrapreneur focuses on innovation and creativity, and transforms an idea into a profitable venture, while operating within the organizational environment."

In my experience as a consultant and watching other consultants, key success factors for starting and growing a successful consulting business include the following basics:

  1. Planning and preparation – Consulting should not be a knee-jerk decision. One needs to give it careful consideration and if he/she decides to pursue such a pathway, they need to plan and prepare before they leave employment. There are contacts that can be made and other preparations made without compromising or conflicting with one’s current employment.
  2. Reputation and existing and new networks – As you move into consulting, keep in mind how important your professional reputation is. Don’t burn bridges as you leave employment. Leverage all the successes and experience of your past employment. As part of key factors below, document a comprehensive list of your network – categorize them by how well they know and can testify to your work and by the market(s) they work in or may be able to influence. Identify any that may be potential clients, references, or referrers.
  3. Starting with strengths – One needs to do an honest inventory of their strengths: skills, knowledge, experience, expertise, etc. This should direct the market analysis – one should start with strengths in which they may have competitive advantage. Diversify and broaden the work you pursue as you develop a track record as a consultant.
  4. A market analysis – Based on your strengths, identify what types of consulting services, industries, organizations, regions, etc. are your best bets as markets to pursue. Keep focused on your strengths and the markets in which you would have the best competitive advantage. Based on your strengths and best opportunity markets, identify key existing and new contact and organizations you need to connect with.
  5. Working hard – Lazy, non-self-motivated employees make for unsuccessful consultants. Expect to work hard, put in extra hours, be flexible, and have the capacity to respond fast and nimbly to opportunities and client requests.
  6. Customer service – Good communication skills, customer service skills, tact and professionalism go a long way in making a good impression when developing new business and when executing a consulting project. The opposite can limit repeat business and hurt your chances of developing new business.
  7. Repeat business – As you start to take on and successfully complete consulting projects, do not under-estimate the importance repeat clients – they will be your bread and butter, a solid base of continued work, and will also lead to referrals to other potential clients/projects.
  8. Self-promotion and marketing – As you get projects under your belt and have satisfied clients, leverage those to promote yourself to past and potential clients and others. This shows confidence and starts to brand you as a “go-to” contractor.
  9. Clear Mission – Don’t under-estimate the importance of a clear mission statement for your business – if you cannot tell someone the essence of what you do and have to offer in a sentence, you are not clear on your mission. Your mission may evolve and change over time, but as part of your market analysis, come up with a clear initial one.
  10. Have a clear business model/financial plan – Talk to experienced consultant friends; do some research; make sure you are competitive within your market; consider small discounts due to being new in the business, but remember your perceived value is related to your price.

Keeping in mind my original point, creating and building a successful consulting business is a lot about the basics. If you have reflected the above traits as an employee, you should be able to capably translate them into a successful consulting role. Good luck!

Kerry Jothen is CEO of Human Capital Strategies, a successful human resource consultancy in its twelfth year of business. For more information, see

A career moms guide to coping

February 26, 2013

In September 2012 I faced a difficult decision: to return to the work force or stay home with my one year old daughter. I wasn’t sure of the consequences of either of these decisions. I opted to return to work on a part-time basis. That way I could return to the career I enjoy and still spend time with my kids. I also have a seven year old son at home although he is in school while I am at work. I braced myself for the challenges that lay ahead with the decision I had made.

The road is never smooth and there are always bumps, let me tell you.  In my experience I find the more prepared and aware you are the better your experience will be. Here are a few tips which have helped me succeed in being a mom and returning to the work force.

Develop a Routine

Right before I knew I was due to return to work I came up with a routine. I gave myself enough time in the morning to make sure things would run smoothly and I gave it a trial run the week before.  I also established an after school routine as well. Always allow yourself more time than you need.

Establish a Back-up Plan

Someone getting sick is inevitable. Most of the time it is your kids especially being the school and daycare age. Your daycare provider will most likely battle the illnesses during the flu and cold season as well. So it is a good plan to have some back-up daycare plans if this happens. It is also a good idea to network with other parents and friends if you ever need a hand with the morning and afternoon school pick-up’s and drop-off’s.

Be Focused

Try to not let your work and your home life mix. Easier said than done I know. At work focus on the tasks at hand and tell yourself everything that needs to be done at home or after school can wait. It may be hard when you first return to work and it might seem like it will always be hard, but once you adjust to being back to work it all just falls into place. Another tip for staying focused is to write things down in an agenda or on your smartphone. Make sure you make a habit of checking it! This will help you to not forget anything whether it be work or home related.

Take Time for Yourself

There are many ways you can accomplish this. I find going for an hour long walk in the evenings helps me get out and take a few minutes to myself to relieve some stress. The fresh air is great and getting the exercise is even better. I find this helps me stay focused and stress free during the days. Reading at night is something I enjoy doing as well.

These are just a few things in my personal experience I have found helpful in coping. There will always be days of tiredness and stress but those days become farther and further between as your kids get older and more independent and things become more routine.  So reward yourself on your accomplishments and that will put a smile on your face.

Danielle Gaudreault

Small town. Big shopping.

January 18, 2013

Being a first time blogger I was a little apprehensive when I was told our organization would be starting a blog.  What would I write about that would interest people?  That’s when I decided I would pick a topic people on the North Island could relate to: shopping locally and what small businesses here on the North Island have to offer.   This topic goes hand in hand with Community Futures since we provide a Small Business Lending Program and have helped develop a number of small businesses on the North Island.

When I moved here four years ago I was amazed at the variety of shops for such a rural area.  You can pretty much find everything you are looking for with a few small exceptions.  Below I have provided just a few examples of my favorite local shops:

The Shed Outdoor Store

The Shed carries everything you need for your favorite outdoor hobbies such as biking, skiing, snowboarding, camping, etc. If you’re not into wilderness activities there are also plenty of apparel items to choose from for everyday use. I really like the high quality brands they carry in their store such as Burton, North Face, and Oakley. They also carry the ever popular Bob strollers. So there is definitely something for everyone in this store!

The Clothes Inn

Another store in our small community with a great selection of clothes for everyone in the family. The first time I checked out the clothes Inn I couldn’t believe the selection.  The selection is huge and very high quality and the sales people are very helpful and definitely know their products. The Clothes Inn has store fronts in both Port McNeill and Port Hardy and the staff is great at checking both stores for whatever item you’re looking for. You can keep up to date with The Clothes Inn on Facebook by searching “Clothes Inn Port McNeill”.

East of Java

A great store to check out for gifts.  East of Java sells everything from gourmet coffee, chocolates, ornaments, bath products to children’s and adults apparel. That’s just naming a few of the great items they carry. I especially like the selection of baby and toddler products from Melissa and Doug and Hatley.  There is definitely a treasure for everyone in this  little gift shop.  Find East of Java on Facebook.

Cove Apparel

The Cove is another example of excellent local shopping. Located in the heart of downtown Port Hardy the Cove offers quality brand name clothing for all different styles and budgets. The layout of the store is really neat, especially the fitting rooms which have been recycled from old steel cauldrons. Be sure to make a point to go in and see what this store has to offer. For more check out “Cove Apparel” on Facebook.

These are just a few examples of the great shopping opportunities to be had in the North Island. There really is a store with whatever you are looking for, from furniture, sporting goods, electronics, clothing to housewares. I think what I especially like is the small town friendliness when you shop locally. You get excellent customer service and a great attitude. So, in a nutshell, never underestimate a small town and the shopping experience it has to offer.

Danielle Gaudreault

Who are those guys?

December 19, 2012

Welcome to the CFMW (Community Futures Mt. Waddington) Blog -  The Current. Over the coming months our staff will take turns posting articles and information of interest to small business owners and individuals looking to start their own business.

We look forward to engaging with you, our readers. The key advantage of a blog is the “virtual” conversation that we can have…our ideas meeting your ideas. So, let’s connect!

“Who are those guys?”

That’s the question asked by Butch Cassidy to Sundance Kid as they were fleeing from Sheriff Joe Lefors and his posse, in the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s also a question we get here at Community Futures Mt. Waddington (CFMW).  Despite our 20 year history serving the North Island, it continually surprises us that people often ask, “who are you and what do you do?”

Community Futures is part of a national economic development program, administered by Western Economic Diversification Canada that has been supporting small business and community economic development since 1986. CFMW was established in 1992.

Over the past 4 years here on the North Island we have averaged $1.0 million in loans annually. Those loan funds have helped create or maintain over 500 jobs in the region.

We have a number of highly successful clients that have been faithful customers like Keltic Seafoods, Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish and Seto’s Wok and Grill who have worked closely with us from start-up through expansion.

“The loan from CFMW was unquestionably the most pivotal part of our financing to be able to proceed with the acquisition.”
– Mickey Flanagan, CEO Keltic Seafoods Ltd.

For over 20 years we have successfully helped local entrepreneurs get financing to start or expand their business, apply new technology to their business, upgrade a business' facilities or equipment and develop new products and services.

Our loans go to businesses in every corner of the region.  Over 40% of funds lent go to business start or expansion in Port Hardy. 35% goes to Port McNeill.  The remaining 25% is spread throughout the region in Port Alice, Alert Bay Sointula, Zeballos, Woss, Coal Harbour and more.  Our clients also reflect all sectors of our north island economy, from fishing, to forestry, to tourism, to services and retail.

Small business start-up and loans are the cornerstone of our business, but we do other things as well.  For example, we create partnerships with the municipalities, the Regional District and First Nations to plan and implement community economic development projects throughout the region.  Between 2009 and today over $3 million has been funneled into local community economic development projects.

Community Futures will continue to play a role in economic and business development in the Mt. Waddington region. Our doors are open. You can reach us at: 250-956-2220; on internet at: or like us on Facebook

David Mitchell,
General Manager


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Communities Served

Alert Bay, Bella Bella, Coal Harbour, Echo Bay, Holberg, Kingcome Inlet, Klemtu, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Quatsino, Rivers Inlet, Shearwater, Sointula, Telegraph Cove, Winter Harbour, Woss, Zeballos


Community Futures Mount Waddington
14 - 311 Hemlock Street
Box 458
Port McNeill, BC
V0N 2R0

T: 250.956.2220
T: 877.956.2220
F: 250.956.2221