Rural communities in western Canada are facing a challenge: the coming wave of business successions or transitions.
In Canada, the population is aging, and many small business owners are interested in retiring and exiting their business. Rural Canada’s local businesses are the lifeblood of their communities, but too few businesses are planning for their succession, leading to poor business retention within community economic development initiatives.
Rural businesses with formal succession plans that target youth, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and new Canadians could be the solution to address declining business sectors in rural communities through the purchase of transitioning businesses.
Community Futures Manitoba has launched a new initiative in partnership with SuccessionMatching.com and Community Futures Saskatchewan to assist communities in retaining these valuable community assets and to help ensure local businesses continue with new ownership instead of shutting down.
Community Futures Manitoba and Community Futures Saskatchewan have worked with SuccessionMatching.com and Succession Plan Canada since 2014 to help business owners through the succession planning process and finding the right buyers. Given a recent surge in buyer sign-ups to this online marketplace and their interest in finding financing to purchase a business, Community Futures is in a unique position to assist these entrepreneurs.
Funded through Community Futures Pan West’s Rural Opportunities Fund; the “Business Succession, Expansion and Repurpose” project offers a multistage program to assist business owners with succession plans, while encouraging youth and Indigenous entrepreneurship, international investment attraction and enhancing the economic competitiveness of rural Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Project activities began in early 2020. 15 Community Futures organizations are engaged in delivering workshops to train 250 business owners on business transition planning, which will lead to the creation of 85 formal succession plans and the successful transitions of 60 businesses to new owners.
With guidance and assistance from the staff and professional network provided by SuccessionMatching.com, Community Futures staff are learning new skills related to business transitions, increasing the supports they can offer to local businesses, and increasing their client base and lending opportunities.