City of Calgary empowers small businesses with digital support and expertise
Calgary celebrating Small Business Week
As we celebrate Small Business Week from Oct. 16-20 with a strong commitment to supporting Calgary's home-based and commercial business owners, we recognized that many busy entrepreneurs find it challenging to manage essential online tasks like website development, e-commerce, and social media management. That's where the Digital Service Squad comes in.
Launched in 2022 by our Business & Local Economy team, this program offers free digital support. To date, we have received more than 5,000 inquiries and assisted 900 eligible clients in enhancing their online presence. This collaborative initiative between Business Link and Digital Main Street, funded by the Government of Alberta, will continue until Sept. 30, 2024. To learn more about eligibility criteria and sign-up details, visit Calgary.ca/dss
“Small Business Week is a celebration and recognition of the entrepreneurs, who form such a big part of our city. They not only offer unique services and products that enrich our lives but also play a pivotal role in our city's economy,” said Erin Chrusch, Leader of Business & Local Economy at The City of Calgary. ”The Digital Service Squad plays a significant role in providing the customized tools to enhance their online presence and succeed in today’s digital world. This initiative is The City’s way of supporting and recognizing the contributions of small businesses."
"There are many things that can be intimidating for a small business owner, but digital transformation doesn’t have to be one of them,” says Nadim Chin, Program Manager of Digital Main Street. "The Digital Service Squad has already supported over 900 small businesses in Calgary since 2022 with over 58 per cent owned by women and 19 per cent owned by newcomers, immigrants and refugees. By working with one of the eight Service Squad members, these business owners are having a guide that can work alongside them on their digital adoption journey."
Many of the small businesses that received support from the Digital Service Squad have experienced growth in online traffic and customer engagement, contributing to overall growth.
"The Digital Service Squad support was invaluable," says Jan Ooi from Ensemble Healthcare. "They helped me build my website, develop my social media strategy, and set up Meta Business Suite. They walked me through setting up my Google Business Profile and Google Search Console, as well as guiding me through how to understand the analytics on my website. I can't even imagine how many more hours it would have taken me to figure that out on my own, and some things I wouldn't even have realized that I could/should do."
"This support definitely helped my business. We are a very new clinic, and it is so key to be able to present a polished and informative website to potential patients. Both of the DSS members that I worked with were very encouraging, responsive, and skilled. They were able to answer all of my questions and provided great, impartial advice."
Ilene Reyes from iCare Massage Therapy echoes Jan's sentiment: "The team understand the challenges and complexities involved in starting a business. Aspiring entrepreneurs like me can turn my vision into a reality with the assistance and support I need and available. With the comprehensive range of resources, tools, and guidance tailored to the specific needs of entrepreneurs in the digital era."
Aws Abdullatif from PB and J YYC also expresses gratitude, saying, "I enjoyed working with our Digital Service Squad member. He was very informative and patient. He opened our eyes to a new perspective on the ads we were creating. We didn't think that a small change in our posts can lead to such a great improvement in our social media. The support helped us to understand Google Ads, searching keywords, boosting posts in social media, setting budgets, and many other things, Our average likes for our social media posts were between three and 10 likes per post. After adopting the strategies, we have some posts that have up to 119 likes, and we are growing in our followers."
In addition to our commitment to established business, we are also offering free webinars Oct. 18, 24 and 25 for those considering starting a business. The webinars are tailored to brewery startups, home-based businesses, and commercial ventures, addressing topics like property regulations, land use bylaws, development, and building permits. Visit Calgary.ca/webinars to learn more or register for one of these upcoming webinars.
To discover additional support for small businesses, please visit www.calgary.ca/business. If you require customized assistance for your business's unique needs, please fill out the Intake Form at https://forms.calgary.ca/content/forms/af/public/public/x829.html. This is a pilot program offers more specialized supports for businesses.
We are here to streamline your journey from inception to thriving.