Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

The Cake Company

Grant Canning
Banff, Alberta


When is a cake company not a cake company? When it’s the Cake Company Café in Banff. The history of this spot, popular with local residents, goes back to 1988 when the first bakery/coffeehouse opened in Banff. “It pre-dates all the big chains, so when I bought the business in 2010, it made sense to keep the name – it’s a tradition!” says Grant Canning, owner.   No longer just a bakery, this popular spot now offers sandwiches and wraps, some desserts and a full range of coffee and teas. “It’s the kind of place that tourists stumble across, but all the locals know about,” says Grant. “I like being able to greet people by name and sometimes, we have their favorite beverage ready by the time they reach the counter.”  Grant’s journey in entrepreneurship was a natural progression of his solid education, including an MBA and Bachelor of Commerce degree with specialties in Tourism and Marketing. Fueled by his experience in marketing while in the ski industry, he knew business ownership was in his future. When the Cake Company Café became available, he was confident he knew what it would take to run a successful operation. “When the idea of owning a coffeehouse first started to percolate, I had the desire, but lacked two things – experience and capital.” That didn’t go over well with traditional lenders, he recalls. “I understand why they are governed by numbers, but decisions are often made by people you never get to meet.”

“My experience with Community Futures Centre West was much different. I was actually referred to them by a bank who turned me down. Community Futures was remarkably helpful and I was given a very specific outline of what I need to do to move forward. They worked with me to find solutions, so I didn’t hear the word “no” very often. Instead, I heard alternatives and great suggestions, such as how to mitigate the financial risk. They listened to my ideas, understood my vision and most of all, they took into account who I was as a person.”

“The best advice I’ve received about business ownership is that every decision made should add value to my business and if it doesn’t, then I need to rethink it. I tell aspiring entrepreneurs to always believe in yourself. Owning a business comes with lots of stress, but success or failure is always predicated by you. Have confidence that you’ll do well.”

Now in its sixth year under Grant’s ownership, The Cake Company Café is a haven for locals, many of whom either work in the professional building where it’s located, or walk through to and from appointments in the building. “They are my mainstay, what keeps me going. Sure visitors to the area find their way here, but we really try to be a local oriented place and want to stay that way.”

Story by Patricia Alderson

Photography by Bruce Tannas

 

    

 

Reliance Telecom Consulting

Cheryle Renwick
Cochrane, AB


Cheryle Renwick is on a mission to save small businesses money through negotiating better cell phone contracts.  Through her company, Reliance Telecom Consulting, she analyzes cell phone invoices, investigates billing errors and renegotiates better rates on behalf of her growing client base.

“People don’t realize there’s a whole world of unadvertised pricing potentially available to them,” says Renwick. “Since opening my business in June of 2009, I’ve saved my clients anywhere from 25 to 67 per cent on their billings.

“I recently worked with a client who didn’t think I could save him any money,” she says. “The business owner had spoken with his service provider on numerous occasions looking for better rates and even threatened to cancel – he was so frustrated. By looking at his total account usage with an objective perspective, I was able to renegotiate his rates with just over 60 per cent in savings,” Renwick glows. “That’s a lot of money for a small business.”

How did this inspiring entrepreneur make the leap from employee to running her own business? “I’ve worked in the telecommunications industry for many years,” she explains. “My customers sometimes joked that I should branch out on my own, but I didn’t have the business skills or faith in myself to pursue the idea. After the company I worked for moved my job east, I joined a small consulting company, but was eventually laid off again.”

“I guess the self employment seed was planted because I realized I had knowledge, skills and expertise in my industry, but just needed some guidance to get started,” Renwick continues. “I was at a Chamber of Commerce lunch and happened to mention my business goal [to] another entrepreneur. He was enrolled in the Self Employment Program offered by Community Futures Centre West and suggested I speak to them.” 

Renwick says the financial and marketing training she received through the Program has been a key to her success. “The necessary evil – writing a business plan – was a challenge, but I learned how to do it properly,” she says. “I’m thankful for the tools I learned as my business plan is now the backbone of my operation – it’s easy to see how people fail without one.”

“I’ve been able to help businesses right here in my own community by doing something I’m passionate about,” says Renwick. “And I get to spend time with my children. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

As published in COCHRANEConnects Spring/Summer 2010

View her website at http://reliancetelecomconsulting.com/index.php

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Community Futures Centre West
3209, 101 Sunset Drive
Cochrane, AB T4C 0W7

403-464-2572

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Communities Served

Airdrie, 
Balzac, 
Banff, 
Bottrel, 
Bragg Creek, 
Canmore, 
Cochrane, 
Crossfield, 
Dead Mans Flats, 
Exshaw, 
Ghost Lake, 
Harvie Heights, 
Madden, 
Morley, 
Redwood Meadows, 
Seebe, 

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