Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen is trying to find out what people think of the 32-year-old economic development group.
To find out, they’ve launched a pair of surveys to gather information from the general public, as well as past and present clients.
“What we are trying to do is find out from the public what their perception of Community Futures is, if they are even aware of us and what we do,” said Nicole Clark, a business advisor with the organization.
The surveys will be open for another couple of weeks, but Clark said there are 57 responses on their public survey and 19 on the client survey.
“We asked very open-ended questions, because we really wanted to hear what people had to say; 89 per cent of the respondents had heard of Community Futures,” said Clark, adding that most people surveyed seemed to understand the purpose of the group.
“A great number talked about developing new businesses, helping businesses succeed,” she said. They also got a positive response to a question asking for the feelings associated with the group. Trust, success and engagement figured high in the responses so far, as does hope.
“A lot of that, hope and hopefulness. Very positive kind of feelings around the organization,” said Clark.
“One surprising thing is that people aren’t aware that we offer business advisory services, where a small business owner that needs help with a marketing plan, perhaps, can come to us.”
Community and economic development is a big part of the Community Futures mandate, helping businesses build with a range of counselling and advisory services, loans and training.
A second survey is aimed at Community Futures clients, asking how valuable current services are, or what changes or additional workshops would help them in their business.
And then from our past and present clients, are we offering the services they need from us. How valuable are the services we have right now, what are the changes we need to make, are there additional workshops we could run that would help them in their business.
Not surprisingly, social media is one of the top interests. Clark said the organization has constantly evolved its services and adapted to current needs of businesses and entrepreneurs over the last three decades.
“Different things come up in different times. Where we didn’t have to worry about Facebook even four years ago, it is now mandatory for businesses to be on Facebook and have a strategy,” said Clark.
But while business owners are looking for help with modern practices, Clark said early responses to the survey showed a need for traditional practices, like marketing, cash flow, inventory management and bookkeeping.
“We get a lot of bookkeeping requests, said Clark. “It is as important today as it was 100 years ago to know about the money in your business, where it is coming from and where it is going, how much is left. It is amazing the number of businesses that don’t understand their financial situation.”
More information about Community Futures and the services they offer is available through their website at cfokanagan.com. The public survey is available at surveymonkey.com/r/communityfutures and the client survey at surveymonkey.com/r/CFSurveyClients.