Canada’s Community Futures Sunrise Accelerates Small Business Success with the Destination Creation Course

Jan 11, 2022 | Article by Gene Stowe, Blog, Destination Creation Course

The owner of a specialty honey company was looking for the right flowers for his bees. A greenhouse owner in his business class mentioned that she had the flowers he needed. The ice cream shop owner overheard the conversation and wanted to buy honey for his ice cream. All three of them were on their computers taking the online Destination Creation Course to help their small businesses grow.

The Course was already doing what it was supposed to do: Create business success.

“It was in that moment that we knew this was really a great class for our region,” says Verna O’Neill General Manager of Community Futures Sunrise in Saskatchewan, Canada. “We looked at what was being created by these like-minded people coming together and having that discussion.”

O’Neill and Christina Birch, the agency’s Regional Economic Development Coordinator, have helped more than 25 business owners take Jon Schallert’s Destination Creation Course through the Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance (SEDA). Both of them will receive their certification training in January so they can become course facilitators, with the goal to train at least 50 more Saskatchewan business owners in 2022 through their organization.

“We loved the Destination Creation Course so much, we thought we would provide it through our organization” O’Neill says, adding that the course content, interaction among participants, and enthusiastic monthly follow-up meetings are making an impact on individuals and communities throughout their province of Saskatchewan.

The Destination Creation Course can be either an online or in-person class based on Jon Schallert’s Destination marketing strategy that he developed over more than three decades of helping small businesses boost their local customers, increase their out-of-area customer traffic and drive their business revenue and profits. Practical, economical strategies and tips that originated at Schallert’s Destination BootCamp in Colorado are now available through a network of Canadian and United States’ based facilitators helping locally-owned independent businesses.

“This class is designed to take proven traffic building and revenue growth concepts and make them more accessible to business owners across North America without the need to take time off and travel to a training,” Schallert says.

O’Neill and Birch say the approach aligns with the mission of Sunrise Community Futures, part of the Community Futures Canada organization with 267 offices. The Community Futures Sunrise office’s service area extends over 32,500 square kilometres (over 20,000 square miles), in southeast Saskatchewan and covers 43 rural municipalities, 54 urban municipalities and three First Nations communities, serving a total population of approximately 65,000.  

“The Destination Creation course really did speak to that second pillar of successful businesses,” O’Neill says. “A lot of our entrepreneurs were having to pivot during Covid – they had to be different. It’s a different way of thinking about the pillar of marketing – hands-on learning, exercises to enhance the learning outcomes, interaction between those taking the course in the group.”

In contrast to trade-based training, the Destination Creation Course brings together a broad spectrum of business owners, from hoteliers to photographers, who often find vendors and friends for mutual support while they learn the empowering approach. At Community Futures Sunrise, the conversations have continued in monthly Zoom follow-up meetings. The training is open to economic development, tourism, and other related professionals as well as business owners.

“We now meet with the same group once a month for follow-up support, work on their Unique Positioning Statements, different ways to increase word-of-mouth marketing,” Birch says. “Sometimes we have additional resources available to them, sometimes roundtable discussions. This group was very successful in their business-to-business partnerships that they developed.”

To learn more about the successes of the Community Futures Sunrise organization, visit their website at https://cfsask.ca/sunrise .

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