While a global pandemic was still very much unfolding in 2021, that did not stop many ambitious local entrepreneurs in their pursuit of starting and growing a successful small business in Hamilton.
In 2021 alone, the Hamilton Business Centre handled over 11,300 general inquiries related to starting and running a business, registering a business, marketing, licensing, zoning, and funding opportunities. On top of that, 902 total 1-on-1 client consultations were conducted.
Considering the time we were living in, this was truly a great example of the resilience of the entrepreneurial spirit – a way of approaching situations where one feels empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into their own hands.
In late 2021, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Hamilton Business Centre also celebrated a giant accomplishment for the local small business community with the announcement that over the past 2.5 years of partnership in delivering the Digital Main Street program, over $1 million in Digital Transformation Grants (DTG) had been distributed to Hamilton businesses through the Digital Main Street (DMS) Ontario Grants Program (OGP). The DMS OGP is funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. The Ontario Grants Program is administered by the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA).
Over the course of 2021, one of the observations gleaned from working with many small business owners was how the pandemic and the push to a digital first approach made business owners dependent on digital tools to survive. This may sound dramatic but considering that the right combination of digital tools and platforms not only encourages growth but can also ensure that business owners are not spending their valuable time on tedious online tasks or tasks regularly outsourced to other professionals. The only issue are the costs associated with these digital tools and platforms.
The good news? There’s no shortage of free and freemium software out there that can help a small business owner with little to no budget leverage the opportunity and efficiencies digital tools offer. Whether it’s a free CRM to accurately track and manage leads, create eye catching visuals for social media, or to learn a new skill, there are free or freemium options available.
To help businesses wade through the vast amount of options Google provides, the Hamilton Business Centre has improved upon it’s once blog post list of free tools available to now be a fully functional website resource, built upon one of the free tools mentioned within the list (Google Sites). Whether you’re looking for free accounting software, you need to create a logo, learn SEO, or start and email marketing list, the HBC Digital Resource Hub has a tool for your specific need. In addition, the Hub lists a bunch of not so well know productivity and organizational resources for small businesses.
Want to see it for yourself? Visit the HBC Digital Resource Hub 2022 today and discover all the great free resources available. https://sites.google.com/view/hbcdigitalresourcehub/home
Need some assistance with your small business? Located on the first floor of City Hall at 71 Main Street W, the HBC is your one-stop source for business information, guidance and professional advice on starting and running a successful business.