Maeghan Smulders, Mount Royal business student and SIFE president, says it was the next logical step to offer this latest business development course to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs looking to take their business to the next level.
“When I mentioned our new course to past clients they were so enthusiastic to do it,” says Smulders who is in her final year of the Bachelor of Business Administration, General Management program.
“If that’s the response we’re getting, we must be doing something right.
“Once the participants have a plan down on paper they can look at their business from a different perspective. By taking the time to analyze what they’re doing, they can more accurately chart how to move forward.”
Evolving business idea
Whereas the free six-week Snatch the Pebble course provided Business Basics 101, Master the Blueprint is an intensive 12-week course that teaches women entrepreneurs how to create an effective business plan.
For a fee of $100, participants garner business expertise from lectures delivered by industry experts including BDO, Meyers Norris Penny, Momentum, Business Link and Mount Royal professors.
The women then work one-on-one with SIFE students who volunteer to help them produce plans to maximize their businesses' potential. All registration fees collected from the course go towards future SIFE activities.
As an added bonus, Master the Blueprint has been incorporated into the curriculum at the University so students in certain business classes have the opportunity to get real-life experience by working on financial aspects of the business plans for Master the Blueprint participants.
“Having the support from faculty members and industry partners changed our lives so we can change the lives of others,” says Smulders of SIFE’s efforts to pay it forward.
“We have these business women who need help taking their business to the next level and we have students who are eager to help and willing to apply their knowledge.”
|Come cheer on Mount Royal’s SIFE team |
Mount Royal students, staff and faculty are encouraged to attend the regional competition to lend their support to the SIFE students as they compete in the TD SIFE Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The regional competition will take place at the Hyatt Regency Calgary, March 13 & 14, 2011. Anyone wanting to attend the free event must register
A success story
The first Master the Blueprint course, which wrapped up Nov. 16, 2010, had eight attendees from a variety of business ventures ranging from jewelery and water bottle sales to telemarketing and financial services.
Barb Doran, CEO of Infinite Soulutions, a Calgary-based company that specializes in stainless steel water bottles and water enrichment products, took both the Snatch the Pebble and Master the Blueprint courses.
“Now I’m able to work smarter, not harder,” says Doran. “When you’re a small business and you’re growing, all the things that save you time are a big deal.”
Doran started her business four years ago and credits the SIFE programs with helping develop her pitch skills and business savvy.
“I was really impressed with the knowledge and dedication of the students and their willingness to respond to the needs of women entrepreneurs in the community. They genuinely want us to succeed,” says Doran.
“The students were non-critical and non-judgmental, so it didn’t matter where you were at in your business knowledge or what you might have been struggling with. Their approach and their way of dealing with you made you feel like everything was going to be OK.”
Plans are already in the works to launch the next Master the Blueprint course starting Jan. 29, 2011 with a new batch of women entrepreneurs.
Another Snatch the Pebble course is scheduled for late Feb. 2011 geared to naturopaths interested in starting a business.
SIFE’s expansion into the consulting world
Doran was so pleased with her experience that she will be seeking SIFE’s services once again under SIFE Works Consulting — a third offering specifically targeted to helping entrepreneurs through the changing cycles of a business.
While there is no charge to register for the consulting services, donations are encouraged.
Unlike the other two business development courses, SIFE Works Consulting does not operate in a classroom setting but works one-on-one with entrepreneurs to provide customized solutions to business problems.
SIFE students are currently wrapping up a project with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary to improve food purchasing processes. They are also in the early stages of speaking with Alberta Ballet to assist with finding efficiencies in different aspects of the organization’s supply chain management.
“It’s rewarding to watch businesses grow and develop over the course of the different programs,” says Smulders.
“It keeps things moving forward for entrepreneurs and it opens more doors for SIFE students because we’re getting to know different businesses from varying perspectives.”
— Jondrea De Ruyter, Jan. 13, 2011