It may be a small town, but Squamish is full of entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunities are endless. If you’re thinking about starting a business here, be prepared for some ups and downs, but know you’re in a great place.
The emphasis on community and supporting local businesses is great. Just take a look at some of our local eateries and you’ll see how much love this town has to offer its entrepreneurs. The atmosphere is positive and welcoming, and business owners are proud to be here and welcomed with open arms.
Squamish is just a 45-minute drive from Vancouver and Whistler, which means we attract attention from both locals and visitors. Squamish also has the fastest growing population of all metropolitan areas in British Columbia, and the fastest growing youth population as well. More than 60 percent of our residents are under the age of 40. They enjoy the outdoors, great food, and building a community that offers a unique vibe to both locals and visitors alike.
There has been an increase of bright and experienced individuals moving from nearby locations such as Vancouver. They appreciate the community Squamish offers and many of them seek opportunities that allow for telecommuting. As this population continues to grow, they will provide businesses with the knowledge and experience they need. Additionally, Squamish is home to Quest University and Capilano University. Eager graduates who wish to stay in Squamish and surrounding areas make the perfect hires for developing businesses.
The local government is committed to providing a welcoming climate for business investment and there are many revitalization initiatives happening downtown and along the oceanfront. The development allows for connectivity via sea port, rail and highway, creating more opportunities for a growing business.
Nonprofits like Community Futures Howe Sound are dedicated to assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs in the area. They offer business counseling, small business loans, and important resources such as business plan templates.
Small Business Challenges
As always, starting a small business has its own set of challenges. If you don’t already have the funds to start your business, you have to raise them. Organizations like Community Futures can help, but be prepared to have a strong business plan and strategy in place before asking for financial support.
With a strong business plan in place, you’re set up for success. However, you have to make sure the right people are ready to help you fulfill your dream. What does your ideal employee look like? Be sure to ask yourself this before making any hiring decisions. Squamish is full of wonderful people, but you have to know what you’re looking for. The good news is that once you begin to find them, they can help you find other like-minded individuals. Be prepared to develop a company culture that suits the Squamish lifestyle if you’re opening a small local business.
You also have to know who should be looking for you. What does your ideal client or customer look like? Is it someone you would find in Squamish? Demographic research is absolutely critical to the success of any business, and should also be a part of your strategy and business plan. And just like employees, great customers help you find more great customers by becoming ambassadors of your brand.
Finally, prepare for competition. Squamish is growing, but that doesn’t mean your new business has to get lost in the mix. Find a way to differentiate yourself and always think about the next step. How can you be better?
Whatever your business, remember that entrepreneurship is always an adventure – and Squamish knows how to do adventure!