News & Culture

Small Business BC INSPIRE

Written by Neal Lally: On Monday, October 1st, we attended the 8th annual Small Business BC INSPIRE event held at the Telus World Of Science. The evening was filled with networking, celebration and education with over 400 of BC’s leading entrepreneurs and CEO’s, small and medium-sized business owners, government representatives and industry influencers. 

The evening started with 2 hours of networking while enjoying some marvellous food and drinks. This was a great opportunity for us to meet like-minded businesses, where we were able to bounce all types of ideas off of each other. Our team had an exceptional time chatting with a number of  employees and owners from all types of fields around the province.

Our co-founder, Barry Hartman, sits on the Board of Directors for Small Business BC and had this to say: “I love attending the Small Business BC INSPIRE event. They were the first organization that we called when we were contemplating starting a business. 8 years later, we still use their tools and connect with the community that they have helped bring together. It’s a great organization and the staff put on incredible events.”

The Panel Discussion – Operating a consciously minded business

During the event, there was a panel discussion that consisted of Brian Smith from Persephone Brewing Company, Denise Taschereau from Fairware, Mickey Mcleod from Salt Spring Coffee, Peter Van Stolk from SPUD, and Mike Chisholm from Mazu. It was extremely refreshing listening to this group talk about operating a consciously minded business.

Here are a few of the topics that they talked about:

  • Developing strong fundamentals within an organization
  • How technology can be used to help drive sustainability and success
  • Implementing systems and processes to achieve the next phase of sustainable growth
  • Using business innovation to create social change

Here are a few of our favourite quotes from the panel discussion:

  • “Values transcend borders, they transcend regions. Having values allows you to access markets far beyond your own. It’s a strong connection” – Denise Taschereau
  • “If you’re a values-based company or a B-Corp, we’ve found it helps with staff retention. People want to stick around and be a part of a bigger thing” – Brian Smith
  • “Business has a responsibility to provide good for the community, employees and the planet. If it doesn’t do this, it’s not a good business” Peter Van Stolk
  • “Be honest, be real, make your mistakes and own them. Fight the good fight! It’s worth the journey when you try to change things” – Mickey Mcleod
  • “Surround yourself with people who are invested in what you do. Teamwork makes the dream work!” – Mike Chisholm

The Keynote – Ratana Stephens from Nature’s Path Foods

They then rounded up the event with Keynote speaker Ratana Stephens who is known as the “heart and soul” of Nature’s Path Foods. She co-founded the company with her husband over 30 years ago. Over the last 30 years, they have seen their company grow to become North America’s largest certified organic breakfast and snack food company. Ratana was able to do this while staying committed to their original mission of helping people eat well and doing good.

Being able to see all the good that they do was truly inspiring. Over the last 9 years, they have donated 2.8 million lbs of food across North America. That’s around 17,000 full grocery carts. Last year, they have also supported 98,225 acres of organic farmland. There is one thing that Ratana relies on in her life and she calls it the 3 P’s: Patience, Perseverance and Preservation.

At the end of the night, it’s easy to say the event was a great success. I know that our team that was there left the event feeling inspired! We hope to see you at next year’s Small Business BC INSPIRE event.

Related blog: A 505-Junk Success Story: Neal Lally