Ask Judy Dangel about Business Exchange, and she’ll tell you all about the benefits of the peer networking program. That’s because, when she purchased her Enderby business 30 years ago, she quickly recognized gaps in her knowledge.
“I was young, bought my store, and thought I knew everything,” says Dangel, owner of Enderby Jewellers. “I soon found out owning a business means I also need to be an accountant and advertiser.”
That’s when Dangel heard about a new pilot program in Vancouver. Dangel joined and stayed on as Community Futures North Okanagan brought the Business Exchange program closer to home.
Delivered in bi-weekly meetings, Business Exchange is a small group forum that welcomes non-competing businesses. In each meeting, members learn about and discuss diverse topics ranging from business growth to accounting, marketing, legal, and everything in between.
“Business Exchange is great. Where else do you get a lawyer, accountant, and advertising professional sitting around a table for 90 minutes? If you have a legal question or accounting question, those questions are brought up in the discussion and answered,” says Dangel, the program’s longest-standing member.
Joanne Weatherill, owner of Briteland in Vernon, joined the program shortly after Dangel. After a few years in the program, Weatherill left Business Exchange only to rejoin after an invitation to become a guest speaker.
“I went back because Business Exchange truly brings the community and members together,” says Weatherill. “Plus, you always learn something. Everyone takes something away from the meetings. Community Futures is an encyclopedia of business knowledge.”
And, even after three decades in the program, Dangel agrees.
“Every year, I said if I didn’t get anything out of it, I’d leave. But, every year, I come out of it with something,” says Dangel. “For me, Business Exchange is about having those like-minded people around you that act as a sounding board.”
With a diverse, non-competitive membership spanning multiple industries, Business Exchange welcomes small business owners to share their experiences and learn from one another.
“One of the real strengths of the program is having a place to solve problems and come up with new ideas and strategies to address business challenges. Members bring unique perspectives, expertise, and support that everyone benefits from,” says Kazia Mullin, Business Services Manager, CF North Okanagan.
That program diversity, Weatherill says, grants members access to a network of professionals to navigate common business problems.
“Business is challenging no matter how big or small you are,” says Weatherill. “Friendships have formed through the program, and you can always pick each other’s brains after the discussion. I would tell anyone thinking about Business Exchange to apply. You and your business will benefit.”
Business Exchange, sponsored by Nixon Wenger and Clark Robinson, meets for bi-weekly virtual discussions and workshops. If you are interested in applying to become a member, visit CF North Okanagan online at futuresbc.com/business-exchange.