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UBC launches new resource to help growing small businesses

Just released last month, UBC has now given enterprising entrepreneurs throughout British Columbia the tools they need to receive the information and guidance to help create and grow their own small business, regardless of location.

Called the Small Business Accelerator and created by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, this online information depository contains dozens of free in-depth business guides that run the gamut from restaurant retail to web development, all of which are written and developed by knowledgeable UBC business librarians and students, with even more information and assistance being created and disseminated by the SBA staff.

Created in concept six years ago, the SBA began with a phone call from an ecomonic development officer in Nelson, who was seeking assistance in strengthening the business skills of entrepreneurs in the region. From that moment the idea of the Small Business Accelerator was born, going through various iterations and having its employees travel to small communities around the country in order to receive feedback and input on what areas the SBA should focus on, with the final results now openly accesible to all. 

"I'm really impressed with the SBA so far," says Larry Jones, a business analyst from Community Futures Terrace, which provides support for small businesses and community economic development. "What it means to rural would-be entrepreneurs is that they'll have access to information that everybody takes for granted in large metropolitan areas. This is going to level the playing field quite a bit."

Although the Small Business Accelerator is to remain a web-based initiative, individuals have the ability to ask questions on the website's forums and can solicit advice directly from both the SBA's staff as well as other enterprising entrepeneurs using the website's resources; people can even directly upload their own content such as videos or documents, and provide their own assistance in the form of guest blogs.

And despite being firmly in its infancy, as its official release came little over a month ago, it is still starting to see success. "We've had initial feedback from business analysts in different communities that say this is now one of the first tools they now recommend to their clients," says Aleha McCauley, community business librarian at Irving K. Barber and head of the Small Business Accelerator program. "We've also heard that those who provide business plan services appreciate this tool to help them analyze the quality of plans."

With small businesses accounting for 98% of all the businesses in British Columbia in 2009, and in the process employing over a million people, it is certain that a tool like the Small Business Accelerator will provide essential assistance to both BC entrepreneurs as well as the provincial economy as a whole.   

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