This summer the SBA team decided to try a new information and marketing tactic - an infographic! It was an exciting project for us. We were brimming with enthusiasm. The only problem was we didn't really know where to begin! Luckily we had the help of Maria Trujillo and Michael Wong, at the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, who not only helped us with the design, but guided us through the process by asking some very important questions.
Who, What & Why
With any form of marketing it is essential to consider your audience and what exactly you are trying to achieve. In the case of the SBA, we are trying to reach a wide audience ranging from prospective entrepreneurs to librarians working in public and academic libraries, and from business support organizations to educators and students. The infographic is a tool for advertising our services and demonstrating our value.
The next step was deciding the key points to communicate. The hardest part for us was the combination of deciding what information to prioritize and then refining those points into concise and accessible facts. Here is what we came up with:
You can download and print PDF Version (155 KB)
The SBA aims to support British Columbia's business community, in particular those located in rural and remote regions. To measure our success in that aim we employed Google Analytics, which revealed that over the eighteen months since the SBA launch, the site had 29,320 independent Canadian visitors, of those nearly 22,000 were located in communities in British Columbia.
Supporting Small Business Growth
For the business researchers that create the SBA's growing collection of industry specific accelerator guides, it takes an average of 8 hours to put together the resources for each guide. So every entrepreneur that uses and accelerator guide saves a minimum of 8 hours. In fact, a recent poll on the SBA site revealed that most prospective entrepreneurs are spending more than 24 hours on research for their business plans.
In order to find data on the number of small businesses in BC, we looked at BC's 2011 Small Business Profile. This report found that 9,000 new business registered in BC, between 2009-2010. At that rate, we can estimate 7,500 new businesses would have registered in the 18 months since the launch of the SBA. If BC's new businesses took advantage of the SBA accelerator guides it would mean time savings of roughly 30,000 hours. From another perspective, Google Analytics revealed that our most popular accelerator guides were visited nearly 37,000 times, if each of those visits saved users just one hour of research that's more than 30,000 hours saved.
Accelerating Market Research
The SBA supports market research with our step-by-step Business Research Guide and by answering research questions via email. But, our most unique and popular tool is our collection of Accelerator Guides. The Accelerator Guides increase entrepreneur efficiency by providing quick links directly to relevant information in your industry. That means, if you want to start a jewellery making business you don't have to find all the resources yourself, we have compiled a selection for you (Jewellery Design Business Accelerator Guide). The accelerator guides are grouped by industry to help you find the most useful guide for your business. The top visited categories are Technology and New Media, Arts & Education, Food & Drink, Real Estate & Home Improvement and Fitness & Recreation. Filled with detailed resources for each industry the SBA Accelerator Guides help entrepreneurs enter the market faster. If you can't find a guide on your industry let us know!
The SBA played an integral role in expanding access to the Gale Business Plan Handbooks to 67 public libraries who were not part of the original licensing agreement. Combined these libraries serve more than 2 million BC residents. There are 25 handbooks, each including more than 20 sample business plans. That is 500 sample business plans now freely accessible to residents throughout BC! Visit your local library to access this amazing resource.
Connecting BC Entrepreneurs
Building a robust community of BC entrepreneurs, business support organizations and individuals is important to us. By considering the combination of our directory members, partner organizations and Twitter followers we found that our virtual BC business community included more than 800 members. We connected with the BC business community in person by hosting two events last year and promoting more than 300 additional events through our event calendar. You can help us to expand this community by joining our directory, following us on Twitter (@sba_bc) and notifying us of upcoming business events in your community. Consider contributing to the SBA website by sharing your favourite business resources with us - we welcome your input! .
Promoting BC's Economy
By supporting BC entrepreneurs the SBA is supporting BC's economic success. The economic contribution of small business is well documented. BC's 2011 Small Business Profile found that in 2010 46% of BC's workforce was employed by small businesses. From 2009-2010 13,700 new jobs were created by small business in BC. In this definition small business includes self-employed individuals and organizations with fifty or fewer employees.
On the national front Industry Canada found that small business contributes more than 30% to GDP. A 2011 RBC poll, reported by Canada Newswire, found that roughly a third (32 per cent) of Canadians who don't own a business like the idea of being their own boss. Of those, one-fifth (20 per cent) are thinking about starting up their own business within the next five years. If you are part of that one fifth we want to help you find the information you need to make your business a success!
Industry Canada. (2012). Key small business statistics - July 2012.
Being the”Boss of Me” Appeals to Canadians: RBC Poll. (2011) Canada Newswire.
BC Statistics (2011). Small Business Profile 2011.
Fun with infographics:
Murphy, S. (2012, July). How to create an awesome infographic. Mashable.
Lam, T. (2012, September) Getting ready to sell your small business [Infographic]. Intuit.