The Waterloo Region Small Business Centre (WRSBC) has an epic track record of hosting valuable seminars and workshops. We’ve all been burned before by workshops that didn’t live up to the hype. What’s WRSBC’s secret to success? We chatted up Rob Clement, Senior Small Business Advisor for the WRSBC to get the scoop on why their workshops are packed and leave attendees begging for more.

Showcased on the WRSBC Events are the bountiful seminar and workshop resources covering a variety of topics including accounting, legal fundamentals, business coaching, digital marketing, and start-up basics for small businesses SBCat all stages. Rob says that feedback from WRSBC workshop attendees are highly favourable in particular for workshops that include some hands-on or interactive component besides Q&As. “I think that we’ve moved on to the kind of experiential workshop that’s put on by people who have actually done it [the work they’re presenting]. And I think that that’s very important for entrepreneurs.” The fact that the teacher has been where attendees are right now and succeeded is comforting as well as inspiring.

Digital Bootcamp Workshop New HamburgRob recently guided 14 people through a 2-hour business plan seminar during which each person constructed a business plan using their own model. He provided general input to the groups and personalized advice to each person in the room. Rob said the success of the seminar was based on the fact that, “The act of actually doing it and interacting while doing it was something none of them had ever done before. There were people who had learned about business plans, but not had somebody actually walk them through that stage and then shown them how they can grow that out from there. I think that attention to detail is something that our customers really value.” No one left with a complete business plan – that takes far longer than 2 hours – but everyone did leave with at least some value in each section of the plan to seed the document. An interactive component isn’t always possible. Rob points out that in some cases, Legal Business Structure Fundamentals, for example, is limited to going through the list of requirements with options for attendees to ask questions.

To get the most benefit from your time and money spent on a workshop, Rob’s tried tested and true advice is, “Start to work on the tools you were given right away. Put them into practice. There will always be things that will have to be worked out when you learn something new, but playing with it yourself so that you get a deeper understanding of it and then meeting up with the person or people who can guide you through that is very important. Then assess what additional help you may need.” Rob recommends that event attendees get in touch with him or another advisor at WRSBC to find out how to move forward with your newfound skills. They have your back!

It’s vital that workshop and seminar facilitators keep in touch with the evolution of business and marketing strategies. In Rob’s experienced opinion, the only thing that has really changed about general business strategy in the last 10 years is the way people look at it. The goals are still to make money and grow the company, but how entrepreneurs approach those goals now relies heavily on digital and social media tools. When the WRSBC’s business planning events were getting stale, the facilitators overhauled the seminar and rebranded it as business coaching and filled the room once again. “Things in the marketing world have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. People are starting to focus more on the social side of it, so as that evolves and the interaction evolves between social media, our workshops have to change.” Rob believes that the next big thing for workshops will be video training to empower entrepreneurs with the tools and strategies to incorporate high quality videos on their websites and in their social media engagement internally.

Digital Bootcamp Workshop New Hamburg 2Our very own Sanjeev Rajput, facilitates the wildly popular Digital Marketing Bootcamp through the WRSBC. This 3-evening workshop teaches entrepreneurs the nitty gritty about digital marketing and how to make it work for them. The workshop contains several interactive components, starting with detailed introductions to identify attendees and to be able to address their specific needs. As you can see in the slide, Sanj asks a number of questions that go beyond “what’s your name and why are you here?”:

• Write your name and company name
• Describe your company
• Why are you here?
• Are you a B2B or B2C?

And that’s just the beginning!

This kind of attentive workshop experience is what makes professional development worth your time and money. Not sure whether a workshop is going to rock your world? Call the organization hosting it and find out what the format of the event is and research the facilitator’s previous engagements. You’re spending your time and money attending an event like this, so a little legwork is worth the effort.

You’re spending your time and money attending an event like this, so a little legwork is worth the effort.

Workshops hosted by the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre are popular for good reason, so enroll as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Events are staggered to cover multiple time slots and locations, including Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, St. Jacobs, and New Hamburg. Check the events page for the next Digital Media Bootcamp!

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