Free and low-cost business supports

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Business services and programs

Not your average small business champion.

From the outside it may seem like we provide the same kind of services as many other business development organizations. The truth is we’re very different: we understand small business growth and development in rural Alberta like nobody else. And because we’re a non-profit, government-funded organization with over 30 years of experience, you can believe us when we tell you we’re completed committed to your success. In fact, when you succeed we all succeed, because we live and work in the communities that you make richer by starting and growing small businesses.

Scroll down to learn more about our many free and low-cost Business Services and Business Programs, or get in touch to develop a customized business development and training plan. We also help communities thrive with our Community Economic Development initiatives.

Also be sure to check out our great range of business loans as well as these frequently asked questions about starting and growing a small business in rural Alberta.


Business Services

Free business advice and tools. The right information to get you on the right path.

We provide assistance with topics such as writing a business plan, developing a business expansion strategy, securing financing and much more. These services are free for the first four hours and then cost a nominal fee.

We also provide a wide range of flexible, affordable business loans from $1,000-$150,000.

And we connect you with exceptional free resources that we’ve gathered over the years that cover the full life-cycle of entrepreneurship. Go to our Free Tools page to access information about topics such as:

  • Writing a business plan – the whys and hows
  • Estimating cash flow and measuring success
  • Marketing your business – tips from the pros

Contact your nearest Community Futures office today to start exploring your small business options.

Business coaching and training. The one-stop resource to get your business going and growing.

We help with business projects like marketing plans, feasibility studies or investment attraction strategies for a small hourly fee.

We also provide high-value training opportunities that enable small business owners to learn exactly what they need to know, when they need to know it. Whether you are looking for one-on-one coaching, business mentoring, training seminars, online courses or specialized workshops, we’ve got you covered.

Contact your nearest Community Futures office to learn more.

Business loans and financing options. We say “yes” when traditional lenders say “no”.

We offer nine different loans products, each designed to meet a particular business need. Whether you require a quick influx of cash to respond to an unexpected opportunity, or are looking for a larger investment for expansion into global markets, we have a product that can help.

We’re an entirely different kind of lender than traditional banks, and we get rural small business like no one else. As a result, we can be extremely flexible in finding a tailored loan solution.

Applying is fast and easy - just contact your nearest Community Futures office today.

Business coaching and training. The one-stop resource to get your business going and growing.

We help with business projects like marketing plans, feasibility studies or investment attraction strategies for a small hourly fee.

We also provide high-value training opportunities that enable small business owners to learn exactly what they need to know, when they need to know it. Whether you are looking for one-on-one coaching, business mentoring, training seminars, online courses or specialized workshops, we’ve got you covered.

Contact your nearest Community Futures office to learn more.

Community Economic Development. We strengthen and diversify local economies.

In addition to working with entrepreneurs to create successful, sustainable small businesses in rural Alberta, we also focus on the larger communities in which these businesses operate. We work alongside community leaders and other key stakeholders to create Community Economic Development plans and implement projects that support value-added activity and expansion into new sectors. We also take a ‘big picture view’ of the health of our community’s businesses, and help with broad business retention and succession planning strategies.

Learn more about Community Economic Development or get in touch with your nearest Community Futures office to find out how we help rural communities like yours.

Business Programs

BizStream Small Business Program. What if big contracts weren’t just for big companies?

We can help entrepreneurs in Alberta’s competitive business environment get in the game.

As a local company, you may be able to provide a product or service, but standardized health, safety and insurance requirements may prevent you from being eligible to bid on the contracts you want. BizStream Small Business Program can assist you in meeting industry requirements so you can compete for contracts and get in the game.

BizStream Small Business Program provides information and mentoring to rural Alberta businesses with the potential and desire to engage in contracts with Big Business.

Big business requires that all companies demonstrate the following competencies before a direct contracting relationship can be established:

  • Related company experience
  • Qualified human resource management personnel
  • Management strength
  • Financial stability, both historical and current
  • Project management abilities for mobilization and implementation planning
  • Supply chain management
  • Local economic engagement
  • Technical solutions and specifications related to the project

To meet the membership requirements of ISNetworld businesses must demonstrate that they possess:

  • Insurance certificate
  • Safety manuals
  • Safety training
  • WCB coverage

If your company has the expertise, skills and ambition to engage in contracts with big business, but lacks some of the competencies required to secure these contracts, BizStream Small Business Program could be for you.

BizStream supports the online safety training required for ISNetworld membership and provides access to related online management training. It also connects you to mentors whose valuable knowledge and expertise can help you develop opportunities with Alberta’s energy sector.  Click here to view the press release.

COST

Program fee: $2,500 + $125 (GST) = $2,625
ISNetworld membership: varies according to business size
Training costs: (vary - may be eligible for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant)
Safety manual costs: as required

Note: This is a pilot program and, for now, is only available at one of the following four offices.

Community Futures West Yellowhead
221 Pembina Avenue
Hinton, AB T7V 2B3
(780) 865-1224
http://westyellowhead.albertacf.com

Community Futures Yellowhead East
Unit #1, 5023 – 50 Avenue
Box 2185
Whitecourt, AB T7S 1P8
(780) 706-3500
http://yellowheadeast.albertacf.com

Community Futures Central Alberta
5013 – 49 Avenue
Red Deer, AB T4N 3X1
(403) 342-2055
http://central.albertacf.com

Community Futures Lloydminster and Region
#5, 4010 – 50 Avenue
Lloydminster, AB T9V 1B2
(780) 875-5458
http://lloydminsterandregion.albertacf.com

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. Create the perfect job for your abilities.

The Alberta Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program offers those with challenges an opportunity to be a business owner on their own terms. With our business support,  ‘flexible’ BizAble loan program, and our new Elevate* programs we can help start, expand and develop viable business ideas. You don’t need a picture-perfect business plan either, just a dream, a little drive and the courage to do your own thing. Success as an entrepreneur is all about playing to your strengths. EDP clients all live with physical or mental conditions that reduce their abilities in some areas. But they make a conscious decision to focus on what they can do, rather than what they can't.

Our services include:

  • Business training
  • Assistance with drawing up a business plan
  • Mentoring
  • Affordable, flexible business loans to establish a new business, purchase an existing business, or expand or upgrade an existing business
  • More options such as disability supports, adaptive technologies, temporary funding, training and administrative services are available through our new Elevate* program.  

To be eligible for the basic Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program, you must:

  • Have a self-declared disability or ongoing medical condition
  • Live in rural Alberta
  • Have a viable business idea
  • Be able to contribute in some way to your business

    *  Eligibility requirements vary slightly for our new Elevate program, please contact your nearest Community Futures Office to see if Elevate may be a fit for you!

Self-employment can be a great way for persons with a disability or an ongoing medical condition to get back into the workforce. Clients find that the return to work through self-employment is made more manageable through:

  • Flexible hours
  • Personalized work environments
  • A sense of control over their own destiny

If you would like to learn more about this program, please visit our Entrepreneurs with Disabilities website or contact your nearest Community Futures office.

Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Bring your fresh ideas and energy to the world of business.

If you’re 18- 29, we have a wide variety of training, tools and financing options to help turn your business vision into reality. Our experienced rural Business Analysts are ready to offer free business advice, and low-cost business coaching to get your business up and running.

Contact your nearest Community Futures office today to learn more.

Business Services FAQs

How do I write a business plan?

The completion of a Business Plan for your business is critical. It is your blue-print for starting or expanding your business and, most importantly, helps you decide if your proposed business start-up or expansion is viable.

A Business Plan also helps you to identify potential risks and develop strategies to eliminate or at least reduce the potential impact of these risks on your business.

Equally important, your Business Plan will support your loan application to a lender or investor.

Our Free Tools page contains a wide variety of business planning tools and templates to guide you through the business planning process, including The Top 10 Reasons to Write a Business Plan.

Your nearest Community Futures office can provide free advice (up to 4 hours) and low-cost coaching help you start and complete your Business Plan, as well as a number of unique business loans specifically designed to help new businesses get off the ground.

Can you help me find free business training in my area?

Contact your nearest Community Futures office for information on upcoming free business workshops and low-cost business training in your region.

What kinds of loan can I get if I have never owned a business?

Never owned a business before. No problem!

At Community Futures, we provide you with information, support and coaching to help you investigate the start-up or purchase of your first business.

We also help you in a variety of ways get your business going, including offering up to 4 hours of free advice from one of our experienced Business Analysts, providing low-cost services such as help writing your business plan, and assisting you to find the right business loan.

Contact your nearest Community Futures office for more information.

What if I want to buy a business instead of start one?

Our experienced Business Analysts offer free advice, low-cost coaching and flexible, affordable business loans to help entrepreneurs interested in buying the assets of an existing business.

Contact your nearest Community Futures office to learn more, and make sure to ask about our BizBuyout business loan.

I really want to find new markets for my products. Can you help?

Yes we can. Contact your nearest Community Futures office for information and links to resources available to help you find and secure new markets.

And check out our GlobalReach business loan specifically designed to help businesses who need access to capital to fund their global marketing strategies.

I think I want to franchise my business. What do I do first?

Franchising your business can be a strategy that may lead to a rapid rate of growth and brand awareness for the business. Experts say that when the right concept is franchised effectively, it can be a great expansion strategy that will not require as much capital as growing the business one location at a time.

If you're considering franchising your business, contact your nearest Community Futures office and make sure to ask about our FranchiseRoute business loan.

I want to purchase a franchise. Can you help me with that?

You’ve decided you want to go into business by leveraging the record of success, brand awareness, training, operational and marketing assistance support offered through a franchise?

What a great idea!

Your nearest Community Futures office offers advice, and low-cost business coaching, as well as a flexible, affordable FranchiseRoute business loan.

 

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Community Futures Network of Alberta

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