This past December, the PEIF Fund in collaboration with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) offered a free public seminar on start-ups and financing to Edmontonians. At the heart of our work at the PEIF Fund is a commitment to providing individuals the tools to advance themselves in their professions and in other areas of their lives where they seek transformation. Regardless of the discipline or interest, the PEIF Fund provides, where possible, informational resources and practical assistance to its members and mentees towards achieving their personal goals in business, education, and diverse vocations, while working with selected candidates on social entrepreneurial initiatives for girls and kids-in-need. Our goal is holistic: To support the individual and in that way support communities. Thus, whether the initiatives by candidates are targeted at women, girls or kids-in-need, we always work towards ensuring vulnerable kids who depend on the rest of us are positively affected by the initiative. The RBC-PEIFF Seminar on innovation and small business financing falls within these goals. Part of the PEIF Fund's Seminar Series on empowering members of our communities, the event was designed to provide professional support to Edmontonians interested in starting new entrepreneurial outfits or financing and growing existing businesses.
In his presentation, Tarek Salem, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Grant McEwan University, addressed the myths and realities around what it means to be an entrepreneur, as well as the problems faced by new entrepreneurs. In discussing the ten common reasons why new start-ups and entrepreneurs fail, Tarek addressed the importance of "putting failure into perspective". Businesses and start-ups typically fail, explains Professor Salem, because of a lack of strategic plan, undercapitalization and poor financial management, among other reasons. Noting that "failure is part of the creative process" and "a stepping stone on the path to success," Salem emphasized the need for entrepreneurs to learn to fail intelligently as they work at or grow their businesses.
According to Salem, failing intelligently involves taking stock of what has taken place in the course of building the business, identifying the problems, and taking note of what went wrong and learning why it did. Entrepreneurs who are able to learn from their mistakes and those of others can avoid repeating those same mistakes, said Salem. He also admonished on the need to know one's business in depth, including financial matters pertaining to the business. Speaking further on the entrepreneurial mindset, Salem encouraged the audience to look for sustainability in whatever cause they take up and to remember to "keep in tune" with themselves, their visions for the business and their own personal goals.
Funding opportunities was a crucial part of the discussions for the day. Salem also took this up, discussing the various ways entrepreneurs get funded - from bootstrapping, angel investors, venture capitalists, and crowdfunding to small business government programs. He concluded his presentation with a discussion of ten rules on how to avoid failure and the benefits of the entrepreneurial life.
Shaun Merriman of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) spoke on financial needs and options, as well as on the legal needs of a small business. His presentation covered such issues as choosing the right business model, the process of business registration, and the forms of business support available in the city. Merriman also addressed the various documents and information that banks typically require of small businesses seeking financing, inclusive of personal financial statements, business plans and business financial statements.
Lauren Bell of the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) provided information on the print and digital resources available at the EPL for budding entrepreneurs. Ms. Bell's presentation was followed by a showcase of selected social initiatives that mentees in Toronto (Canada), Edmonton (Canada), Nigeria and Nairobi (Kenya) have undertaken, with an underlying call to prospective innovators and entrepreneurs to incorporate a plan to address a social problem or implement a charitable cause in their entrepreneurial goals.
The event concluded with networking among participants and between participants and the speakers.