Kaleena Ross has learned some valuable lessons about starting a small business, but thanks to mentorship, she did not need to learn them the hard way. Kaleena found a mentor in Shauna Harper, a marketing and communications strategist with LiveWork PG . Through their partnership, she gained the confidence she needed to dive into entrepreneurship and start her own event and graphic design firm, Ikspres Media , in October 2012.
A new online resource, MentorshipBC  will help budding entrepreneurs like Kaleena to access valuable mentor programs and connect with experts who can show them the ropes. MentorshipBC is a resource dedicated to meeting the needs of entrepreneurs by providing one-stop online access to the many mentorship programs available throughout the province.
“MentorshipBC – a key deliverable under the BC Small Business Accord  – helps budding entrepreneurs to connect with experienced mentors who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise and help them get their businesses off the ground and on the path to success,” said Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business . “MentorshipBC bridges an important gap by providing access to valuable resources that will help build a stronger B.C., one small business at a time.”
Designed with small business owners in mind, MentorshipBC provides a central database of business-mentoring programs and allows entrepreneurs to easily find and access programs that meet their specific needs. In addition to providing small businesses with a search tool to find an appropriate mentor program, the site promotes the benefits of working with mentors and using other small business resources. Organizations throughout B.C. that offer mentorship programs are encouraged to register on the site. As a province-wide resource, MentorshipBC also provides an attractive, and free, marketing opportunity for organizations.
“From the outside, people often assume that mentorship is about youth who want business experience, and about mentors telling them what to do,” said Shauna Harper, mentor, LiveWork PG. “In reality, people of any age can be mentored and it’s less about telling people what to do, and more about empowering the mentee to make their own decisions. Mentoring is also two-way – the mentor learns from the mentee about what is new and fresh so that they’re not left behind. Everyone benefits.”
“It’s inspiring to see relationships like Kaleena and Shauna’s right here in Prince George, and now MentorshipBC will allow business owners to share their expertise and support up-and-comers to succeed no matter where they live in B.C. With 98 per cent of B.C. businesses being small businesses, there is a wealth of experience out there for anyone who wants to start their own business,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training  and Minister Responsible for Labour, and MLA for Prince George-Valemount.
Raising awareness around the benefits of mentorship and available mentorship programs has been a priority for the B.C. government. The development of MentorshipBC arose from consultation with 35,000 small-business owners in late 2012 and early 2013 during the B.C. Small Business Accord consultations. As a result, the B.C. government provided funding to the BC Innovation Council to develop the MentorshipBC portal. Government is committed to implementing programs and initiatives that support the BC Small Business Accord, which aims to make B.C. the most business-friendly jurisdiction in Canada.
“The launch of MentorshipBC is the perfect way to wrap up Small Business Month,” said Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. “This resource will help give people the extra boost of confidence they need to dive into business ownership or to expand their current operations, and it will also inspire small business owners and entrepreneurs to reach out and lend their expertise to help others succeed.”
“We want B.C. small business owners to use this site to connect with individuals and information that offers practical advice on setting up their business and managing it profitably,” added Dawn Wood, MentorshipBC project manager for the BC Innovation Council . “We also want organizations that offer mentor programs to know that they can increase access to their programs by having their information listed on the MentorshipBC website.”
- Small business is defined as a business with fewer than 50 employees, or self-employed without paid help.
- B.C.’s small business community contributes 26 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product.
- According to the 2013 Small Business Profile, B.C. has the most small businesses per capita in Canada, at 83.5 per 1,000 people.
- About 385,900 small businesses were operating in the province in 2012, 82 per cent of which had fewer than five employees.
- Small businesses employed more than one million people in the province in 2012.
- Small business provides about 55 per cent of all private-sector jobs in B.C., the second-highest rate in Canada.
- Small businesses account for 85 per cent of all exporters in B.C.
- B.C.’s small businesses shipped approximately $12.2 billion worth of merchandise to international destinations in 2011, which accounts for 42 per cent of all the goods exported from the province.
- Small Business Profile 2013  PDF
- Small Business Profile Highlights 2013  PDF
- Mobile (smartphone) version Small Business Profile 2013 
- Regulatory Reform B.C. 
- Small Business Doing Business with Government Project 
- B.C. Small Business Roundtable website and annual report 
- WorkBC 
- Nominate your favourite small business for a 2014 Small Business BC Award