Written by: Geneviève Grenier from Geoselec
As an entrepreneur, it was difficult for me to determine which business challenges to talk about for this blog. I nonetheless managed to narrow it down to two areas common to all enterprises: finance and personnel.
Before getting down to our main topic, I’d like to talk to you about our company: Geoselec. In a nutshell, we are a small firm of 12 employees specializing in the digitizing of aerial film. We also provide historical geomatic products and have an online data marketplace. The company was formerly associated with an aerial acquisition company, but after 2006 focused solely on the scanning and distribution of aerial data. In 2017, we (2 sisters and a brother) acquired Geoselec, which was previously owned by our father.
When it comes to running a business, the everyday operations usually takes precedence over other issues. However, in 2019 we took the time to think about the future of the company. We determined that the two following elements were of prime importance: targeted personnel training, and technological project development (online marketplace). However, our loan capacity was already used for equipment, and our cashflow, as is the case for most small businesses, wasn’t very flexible. So, we asked ourselves, how could we effectively achieve our goals?
In our case subsidies played an important role. From our experience, the following two steps should be considered:
- Take the time to think about projects that add value to your company, and prioritize them. Though it’s true that a 5-year plan is often unrealistic, in our case designing the business model helped us to identify our primary goals.
- COMMUNICATE, CONNECT, PERSEVERE, and APPLY. Take the time to network with people or organizations that can help you (i.e. Export Programs). Don’t be afraid to present your ideas and to repeat them (patience is a must!). Don’t forget that, depending on the provinces and the available programs, you will often be asked to present your business plan when applying for the subsidy; so if you have already gone through step 1, you will have one less thing to do.
The Human Factor
A recurring challenge for all businesses! In our case our employees, who have skills that are no longer taught in school programs, are nearing retirement. With this reality in mind, we took these two measures:
- We invested quickly in technological partnerships so as to compensate and sustain our growth. These partnerships provide complementary skills to those of our current personnel.
- We let employees who are nearing retirement determine the number of hours they want to work, so that they are happy staying in the workplace. This measure reflects one of our core values: to establish a healthy balance between our employees’ personal and professional life. Flexibility is our motto!
Inevitably you will wonder if you have made the right calls, if you are on the right path. Dare, repeat, trust yourself and have a solid support system: these are the keys to your success!