2016 Small Business Calgary Conference


Amazing things happen when entrepreneurs get together, and that's what Small Business Week is all about. This year the highlight of the week is a half-day conference that includes keynote speakers, learning workshops, a business showcase and the famous Awards show. 

We call it the Small Business Calgary Conference, and it's the biggest celebration of small business in Canada.

Thursday, October 20, 2016
12:30 pm – 9:30 pm
BMO Centre – Hall C
20 Roundup Way SW 

This is an event you will want to bring your entire team to. Come celebrate our city's greatest small businesses with over 1000 other business leaders!

Schedule for the day

Afternoon Conference

  • 12:30 pm: Registration opens and Small Business Calgary Showcase begins
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Keynote address from Michele Romanow
  • 2:00 pm – 5:15 pm: Breakout sessions and the Small Business Calgary Showcase

Evening Awards Show

  • 6:15 pm – 9:30 pm: Networking and the Small Business Calgary Awards

Afternoon: Small Business Calgary Showcase

SBW Expo

The day kicks off with an afternoon of learning, sharing ideas and building new business connections at the Small Business Calgary Showcase.

The Showcase is made up of trade show-style showcase and breakout sessions. (Last year you would have known this part of the day as the Expo). The Showcase will feature everything from an innovation pavilion to a business resource area where companies of all sizes will showcase a variety of products and services.

Here you will also be able to attend a keynote as well as valuable breakout sessions with other members of the business community. From digital marketing to small business banking strategies that work, workshops include a variety of topics all meant to help you make your business the very best it can be.

Keynote: Michele Romanow

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We're excited to announce that this year's keynote speaker will be Michele Romanow. A powerhouse of the Canadian tech industry, Michele has four successful (and innovative) businesses under her belt and one of the newest Dragons on Dragons' Den.

Michele is the co-founder of Buytopia.ca - one of Canada's top daily deal sites, recently ranked #3 on Canada's list of fastest growing companies. Featured on the list of 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, Forbes also chose Michele as the only Canadian to rank as one of the top 20 most disruptive "Millennials on a Mission."

Michele has a diverse background, with four businesses, an engineering degree and an MBA already under her belt. She launched her first business - Tea Room, a zero-consumer-waste coffee shop - on campus in 2006 while studying at Queen's University. She then built Evandale Caviar, a vertically integrated fishery that distributed high-end sturgeon caviar to luxury hotels and restaurants. Her current passion lies in building tech businesses; after building up Buytopia, she created her latest venture, Snapsaves, a mobile savings platform which was recently acquired by American couponing giant Groupon.

Evening: Small Business Calgary Awards

Green Events

As the sun sets, we will transition into the second half of the day: the Small Business Calgary Awards. 

Hosted by Andrew Phung, this is the part of the event where the city’s greatest small businesses get to shine and be recognized for the important contribution they make to Calgary.

About Andrew Phung (host)

Andrew Phung

Andrew Phung is a local actor, improviser, and emcee who is a born and raised Calgarian! He is currently a Senior Ensemble Performer at the Loose Moose Theatre Company and can be seen performing weekly. Andrew is an alumni of Avenue's Top 40 under 40 list (2009), and was voted Best Local Actor and Best Local Comedian by FFWD Weekly in 2014.

Andrew is an energetic performer who is always a crowd favorite. He can currently be seen on the Telus Optik Television series, Cowtown Comedy, and on the Television series, Let's Talk English, on Omni.

Breakout sessions

There are so many great learning opportunities at the Small Business Calgary Conference. Plan your day to make sure you get a chance to visit every breakout session you're interested!

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  Room #1: Innovation Room #2: Business growth Room #3: New Markets Room #3: New Markets

2:45 pm - 3:30 pm

Innovation for small business – Opportunity or threat?  Crowdfunding 101: Validate your business!  The art and science of marketing Come in, we’re open!: How to be resilient during a disaster

3:45 pm - 4:30 pm

Why SMBs can’t afford to ignore network security Entrepreneurial leadership: Taking your business to the next level Maximize your digital presence and reach more customers  Making your strong business, stronger: What steps will you take towards operational efficiency?
4:30 pm - 5:15 pm HR in a box: Shifting skill sets in the new economy Demystifying Alberta’s innovation and export resources to build globally competitive companies Currency volatility and you: Helping businesses in Calgary introduce certainty in uncertain times Doing business with the City, your evolving business and how it affects your City Licence
5:15 pm - 6:15 pm Small business innovation: Getting past the buzzwords Creating a sales funnel management process you can take to the bank  Go, grow and succeed abroad Collecting receivables and debts: How to set yourself up for success


Currency volatility and you: Helping businesses in Calgary introduce certainty in uncertain times


What is going on in the world?! Falling oil prices, political instability, Brexit... Whatever the instigator, currency markets are becoming increasingly more volatile, and this volatility is incredibly difficult to manage for businesses engaging in global trade.

So what can you do? The methods that are available to you are more plentiful and less intimidating than you might think. Each choice comes with its own pros and cons (which we will discuss), but when matched to your specific business goals they work effectively to reduce risk to your business.

The art and science of marketing

Hosted by Ryan Townend, CEO at WilLiam Joseph Communications

When it comes to marketing your business, it requires both art and science. Spend an hour with William Joseph Communication’s CEO, Ryan Townend, and learn what it takes to effectively market your company. Ryan is both a seasoned entrepreneur and marketing expert with a great experience and knowledge on developing brands, marketing plans and campaigns for his clients.

The focus of the presentation will be on creating a brand that tells your story and developing a marketing plan that maximizes your marketing budget. Be sure to bring along any marketing questions you have for the question and answer period after the talk. Not to be missed for business owners or marketing executives of any background.

Come in, we’re open!: How to be resilient during a disaster

Hosted by Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA)

Businesses of any size, from large to small, need to plan and prepare for emergencies and disasters. A business disruption could occur on the other side of the world impacting your supply chain, there could be an incident that affects the entire city, or it could be as simple as a localized power outage. Learn how to assess the safety, financial, environmental, operational, regulatory and reputation impacts your business might face, and how to develop strategies to mitigate these.

In partnership with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, CEMA will share templates, materials and research findings to assist you in preparing your business for these events when, not if, they occur.

Maximize your digital presence and reach more customers

Hosted by Jeff Wright, Senior Sales Manager at Yellow Pages

Did you know, 94% of customers research online before making a purchase? Learn how build a solid online presence – from creating a website that’s easy to find on search engines and that will convert more visitors into customers, to advertising properly online and engaging with your customers on social media.

Collecting receivables and debts: How to set yourself up for success

Hosted by Garrett Hamilton, Henry Villanueva and Philippe Lalonde from McLeod Law

In today's challenging economic environment, businesses can find themselves in a position where they must take steps to collect on their outstanding receivables.

In this session, you will learn tips on how to handle a situation where a supplier, customer or tenant has defaulted on payment as well as arranging your business procedures to prevent these issues in the future.

Creating a sales funnel management process you can take to the bank 

Hosted by Hamish Knox, President at Sandler Training Calgary

Wondering how to make your sales fore-guessing into accurate sales forecasting?  

Join Hamish Knox, President of Sandler Training in Calgary and author of Change the Sandler Way and Accountability the Sandler Way for an interactive discussion on how to create a sales funnel management process that will take the guess work out of your forecasts and create greater productivity across your entire organization.

Making your strong business, stronger: What steps will you take towards operational efficiency?

Hosted by Les Jang, Partner and Consulting Manager at BDC, and Colleen McLennan, Partner and Consulting Manager at BDC

Where does Canada rank globally in terms of productivity?  What is a VCI (Value Creation Index)?  What are the most common forms of waste in an organization

How can you measure your progress?  Join us to learn the answers to these questions as well as practical steps towards improving your operations and productivity.

Entrepreneurial leadership: Taking your business to the next level

Hosted by Richard Presland from The Entrepreneur's Accountant

So you’ve been working hard running your small business as lean as possible and now you’re poised for growth. Leadership is one of the many 'hats' entrepreneurs will put on, but how to make sure you are a great leader?  One that inspires other to hard work and loyalty for more than just their paycheck? You want to build a team that works for a cause they believe in...the success of your business!  

With over 28 years of expertise, The Entrepreneur's Accountant, Richard Presland CPA, CMA, MBA has been building and managing dynamite teams from Oil & Gas, Non-Profit and Private Enterprise.

Small business innovation: Getting past the buzzwords

Hosted by Laurie Lancaster, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University, and Ray DePaul, Director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Every business is told to be more innovative, but what is the first step? This workshop will provide a tool that helps you understand the building blocks of your existing business and identify gaps and opportunities to grow.  The presenters will also introduce different types of innovation to help spark ideas for innovating in your business.  

HR in a box: Shifting skill sets in the new economy

Hosted by Janice MacPherson, Consultant, and Chris Thomas, Senior Consultant

The 4th industrial revolution has arrived and your business is at the forefront! And with it the need to adapt, adopt, integrate new skill sets to ensure your workforce remains agile and productive. Your business is a driver of this skills evolution and revolution. How do you ensure transferability of skills among existing workers, and as you recruit?  How do you maximize productivity as the rules of the game shift? HR in a Box best practices is your best new friend! Tips, practical recommendations and tools will enable a smooth transition to after tomorrow’s workforce.

Crowdfunding 101: Validate your business! 

Hosted by Neetu Sidhu, Manager at BoostR 

Curious about crowdfunding? Come learn how crowdfunding can help entrepreneurs validate and test their business idea, raise money, get marketing/exposure and build a customer base. Crowdfunding is an effective way to talk to your customers, make pre-sales and learn a ton before you launch your big idea or grow your business to the next level. Get a crowdfunding 101 from Neetu Sidhu, Senior Manager of BoostR, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform from ATB Financial designed specifically for Alberta entrepreneurs.

Your business and the City of Calgary (two-part workshop)

Hosted by Phil Lawrence, Buyer – Supply, Saqib Tariq, Buyer – Supply and Jennifer Crack, Sr Planning Staff Development at the City of Calgary

Part 1: How to do business with The City

Requirements, online opportunities list, and other considerations.

Part 2: Your evolving business and how it affects your City Licence

It’s common for businesses to evolve and grow with innovative ideas and changes in technology. This can come in the form of physical expansions, relocations, ownership changes or adopting new business practises. These topics will be addressed by the City of Calgary to help you understand how they may affect your current business licence.

Go, grow and succeed abroad

Hosted by Mark Schroeter, Trade Commissioner for the Government of Canada, and Rob Luini, Account Manager at Economic Development Canada

Join the Trade Commissioner Service (“TCS”) and Export Development Canada (“EDC”) in a 40 minute session on preparing for international markets, accessing international markets, finding qualified business contacts, resolving business problems, minimizing your risk with foreign buyers and ensuring you have the financing you needed to succeed.

Demystifying Alberta’s innovation and export resources to build globally-competitive companies

Hosted by Qasim Rasi, Director of Strategic Markets at ATB Financial

Hundreds of programs exist across Alberta to help entrepreneurs transform their companies into innovative and globally diversified ventures. From funding agencies to export mentors, this breakout session is about utilizing Alberta’s network support to build lean, innovative, and globally visible companies.

ATB Financial has built a diverse network of partners across the province to help entrepreneurs access innovation and trade funds to support research and development, commercialization, and trade expansion needs. From opportunities to develop free apps and software, to utilizing Alberta’s idle capacity to building prototypes, this breakout session will help you tap into opportunities that you never knew existed in Alberta.

Why SMBs can’t afford to ignore network security

Hosted by Ron McKenzie, Senior Vice-President of Shaw Business

It isn’t just enterprises that hackers target in ransomware attacks, more often they are gaining access to small businesses’ private data. SMBs are more susceptible to attacks as they usually have fewer safeguards in place and hackers know business owners’ entire livelihood is at stake, so they are more likely to pay to retrieve their data. Ransomware attacks have grown to become more and more sophisticated, and many small business owners may not realize that residential-grade firewalls are not built to handle these types of attacks.

Some companies may feel these solutions are simply too advanced for their needs, or feel they’re not needed, but because small businesses typically have less cyber security knowledge and fewer resources, they’re often the most inviting targets. Fortunately, just as hackers develop more ingenious methods for accessing critical business data, so too do experts develop new methods for securing business data. Learn how to safeguard your businesses’ data while still providing a strong WiFi connection for your customers, even while gathering valuable marketing data and increasing your bottom line.

Innovation for small business – Opportunity or threat?

Hosted by Peter Garret, President & CEO of Innovate Calgary

In a world where customer expectations are rapidly changing, how can small businesses stay relevant and ahead of the competition? Is innovation an opportunity for these businesses to adapt, and thereby create customer joy and increase revenues? Or is innovation a distraction from the day to day responsibility of running a business? Peter will reflect on his experiences to discuss the pros and cons of innovation amongst small businesses, then turn to the floor for questions.

The official after party: National on 10th

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After the awards are announced and the excitement settles in, keep the conversation going at National on 10th as we gather to celebrate all the finalists and winners. 

To join in on the fun, all you have to do is stop by the Concorde Entertainment Group booth at some point during the afternoon to pick up your wrist band. Or you can show your conference name tag at the door.

If you aren't a Calgary Chamber member make sure to sign up for our Small Business Week Calgary mailing list for important details (Calgary Chamber members receive regular updates).