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New larger format for Sudbury October small business conference

Conference strives to help entrepreneurs
Conference committee members include Rose Walsh, Katelyn Grenko, Josee Pharand, Jacinda McLean, Billy McCreight.

As a third-generation entrepreneur, Kelly Scott has years of business knowledge, and she intends to share it at Sudbury’s Bridges to Better Business Conference this October.

“One of the things I’ve learned is don’t always work in your business, work on your business,” said Scott, the general manager of Barrydowne Paint. The conference, she said, is the perfect place to work on it, and hopes the new, intensive format will encourage local entrepreneurs to take a break to learn.

The conference, run by Sudbury’s Regional Business Centre, takes place on October 17 and 18, during the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Small Business Week.

The conference is in its 17th year, and Josee Pharand, a business information officer at the Regional Business Centre, said it’s taken many forms, including presentations spread over a year and a weeklong conference.

One of the motivations for the new, two-day format is to allow business owners to take a minimal amount of time off, while cramming in the maximum amount of learning.

“We know it can be a bit difficult for people to take a week out of their time and to make sure people get the most benefit out of two days,” explained Pharand.

Scott will be presenting, but also looks forward to attending some of the keynote presentations. She said it provides her with quality training for herself and her staff, without much time or money taken out of her business.

“We definitely use it as training for staff. You can cherry-pick workshops, or offer them to employees; it’s great for someone like us who doesn’t have huge resources to bring in speakers for our staff,” said Scott.

“The last time we did it, it was really valuable. My staff left the workshop with a lot of ideas.”

There are a variety of presentations available, including keynote lectures by local and out-of-town figures, panels discussions by experts, and concurrent sessions on specific subjects.

Scott is looking forward to a presentation that seems geared specifically to her, as an entrepreneur who is currently taking over her parents’ business.

“I’m actually really excited for the speakers they’re bringing in, specifically an accountant who handles the nuts and bolts of succession planning,” said Scott.

The presentations are varied and arranged in three different streams, for aspiring, startup and existing entrepreneurs. However, attendees are encouraged to branch out and attend any of the sessions that appeal.

“It encourages cross-pollination across the stages,” said Pharand. She is looking forward to the variety in the keynotes, herself.

The speakers include CBC’s Terry O’Reilly, Looneyspoons cookbook author Janet Podleski, and Kathy Stinson, the owner of Strive Leadership and Business Consulting.
“Terry has a really big following and everyone is excited to welcome him back to his hometown,” said Pharand. O’Reilly speaks to marketing and promotion, and how small businesses can maximize their impact.

“It’s nice to get marketing advice that doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Pharand.

“He shows that with a little creative thinking, the little guy can do well in the market without spending as much as their bigger competition.”

“I’m looking forward to learning how I can outsmart the big guys through creativity,” laughed Scott.

Podeleski’s presentation promises to be lighthearted but motivating.

“We love how relevant her story is to new entrepreneurs. With no formal cooking training, no publishing experience and many around her thinking she was ‘nuts,’ she persevered and followed her dreams, and now she inspires others to do the same,” said Pharand. “It’s a playful presentation.”

Kathy Stinson is their local keynote, and an experienced leadership and business consultant.

Tickets for individual keynotes and sessions are available, as are full conference passes. Pharand anticipates around 200 attendees throughout the conference, with the keynotes drawing the highest numbers.

“It’s going to be the biggest, the best one yet,” said Pharand.