“Dentist, baker, restaurant owner or doctor: which of those businesses would you consider to be small businesses?” asked Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Small Business to a class of business students at Lambrick Park secondary school.
“All of them,” replied one student ensconced behind a row of computers in the classroom-turned-press conference Tuesday morning.
“Wherever you go, you see small businesses more than large businesses and part of small business culture is somebody waking up one morning and saying: ‘You know what, I’d like to start my own business,’ but sometimes we don’t actually have the skills we need,” Yamamoto said.
Cue the smartphone app.
Jordan Bennett, senior policy analyst at Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation gave students a tour of web version of the app, Boss Yourself, via a smartboard. Boss Yourself includes quizzes designed to sharpen a young person’s business sense and provides facts on the basics of starting a business, as well as links to outside resources.
An accompanying lesson plan has also been developed for the app, which is available for free on iPhone, Android or web browsers. Federal research and innovation funding for the project was provided as a part of the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market development Agreement, in addition to support from the province.
Ninety-eight per cent of businesses in B.C. are small businesses, defined by employing 50 people less. Though the vast majority of those small businesses, explained the minister, an entrepreneur herself, have fewer than five employees.
“We need to embrace entrepreneurs, embrace small business and do it at an earlier age,” she said. “It’s not something we should do when we can’t get a job at a big company.”
“To do so and to do so profitably, you need business skills,” Bennet added.