Self-Employment Matters in Alberta

The Self-Employment program delivered by Business Works Central Alberta (BWCA) is a 26-week program that addresses all aspects of business operation including:

  • Formal instruction in starting and operating a business, including assessment of your personal suitability and your business idea, and business plan development.
  • One-to-one business coaching and guidance during business implementation.
  • Ongoing support, guidance and service management during and after the program.

You will be expected to attend online formal instruction to explore the viability of your idea and to develop a business plan.

At present, the majority of the training will take place online.

By creating employment, producing goods, or providing a service, self-employed people contribute to Alberta’s overall economic growth and well-being.

Self-employment accounted for slightly more than half of the job growth in Alberta in 2018.

By offering fully sponsored 26-Week Self-Employment (SE) Training programs, Alberta Labour is supporting the small business sector by providing potential entrepreneurs with assistance, information and training in the start-up and operation of their new businesses.

The intent of this program is to ensure that new business start-ups have comprehensive business plans that are able to withstand challenging economic conditions and remain economically viable in the long term.

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FREE Self-Employment Training – NO COST to You

Business Works Central Alberta is FULLY funded by the Alberta Government and FREE to any Central Albertan who meets the eligibility requirements below!

Business Works Central Alberta

Business Works Central Alberta is fully provincially sponsored (in partnership with federal government) FREE 26-week long self-employment training program designed to help people shift from unemployment to self-employment in Central Alberta.

It features business training boot camps, one-to-one business coaching, group coaching, mentoring and business-themed workshops – it walks participants through the business concept stage to developing a comprehensive business plan and then on to launch and ongoing operations – all done providing support delivered in a virtual environment.

New intakes of the program occur quarterly, with a max of 14 participants in each intake.

BWCA has helped launch a variety of businesses

BWCA has proudly helped in the launch of over 100 business in Central Alberta in the areas of business, professional, creative, and personal services, in addition to retail and manufacturing, agribusiness, and construction services.

Reach out to us with your business idea – it doesn’t have to be innovative, it can range from making your side gig a full-time focus, a hobby into a business, your skills and talents into your own venture and even manufacturing or selling products. The common thread is that you want to be your own boss and shift from unemployment or underemployment to self-employment!

Why Choose the Business Works Central Alberta Self-Employment Program?

Through this process, you will receive objective evaluations of critical strengths and weaknesses you possess that will help or hinder you, in your quest to become self-employed in your own business.

Our seasoned professionals, with 30+ combined years in the business community, will provide feedback on your business idea and assistance in the form of business training, coaching, mentorship, referrals, and networking in your area.

Business Works Central Alberta

Business Works Central Alberta Team

Rod MacWhirter

Rod MacWhirter, Program Manager & Business Coach

With over 26 years of business management, retail and real estate sales, operations, professional development, business coaching and networking experience, BWCA participants are in good hands with Rod MacWhirter at the helm as the Program Coordinator and Business Coach.

His relationship-centered style of facilitation and connection support the growth of budding business owners, and his supportive can-do attitude helps reinforce the mindset shift that is needed to maximize potential and increase influence to launch, operate, and grow your business!  His goal is help you create a business, not just a job!

Michelle Bazylinski, Client Services Representative and Program Assistant

From the initial connection and conversations right to the completion of your program, as Client Services Representative and Program Assistant, Michelle brings her caring, thorough, and organized approach to your BWCA experience. Her administrative savviness will set you up for fulfilling the requirements and expectations of the program.

It is not easy, and it takes effort, and Michelle will be there guiding you on how to navigate the process successfully. If you have any questions, Michelle is always a great place to turn to for information.

Pauline Mousseau

Pauline Mousseau, Intake Coordinator

With a business and community development background, BWCA Intake Coordinator Pauline has the pleasure of engaging with prospective participants, learning about their situation, strengths and challenges, plus business ideas to assess whether the BWCA program would be a mutual fit and if they are ready, willing, and able to take full advantage of this unique yet rigorous opportunity!

She also promotes the program and connects with referral partners across the region to share details about the program with businesses, agencies, and organizations.

Find out if you qualify today.

Interested but want more information? Or ready to see if you qualify?

Click on the “Begin your Self-Employment Journey Here” and fill out the form.

A BWCA team member will be in contact with you shortly to learn more about your situation and business idea.

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Proven Success Rate

  • In a world where 80% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years, this program has a track record of clients achieving an 80% SUCCESS rate after 5 years!
  • Most businesses fail because they simply do not know what to do. Learn how to get started, and how to maintain your momentum.
  • Get feedback on your business idea from the get-go!
  • Learn about where you can find resources for funding your business, a clear idea of how much money you need and how you can manage your cash flow.
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One-on-One Coaching

  • Have a qualified business coach by your side throughout your participation on the SE program – you don’t have to do this alone!
  • Ongoing advice and feedback on your marketing strategies, including knowing what is and is not working and how to measure the effectiveness of your marketing plan.
  • Assistance with producing and interpreting your financial information and results.
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Real Business Training

  • Learn the critical components of running a business. We know that you know best about what you do, but do you understand:
    Cash flow? Inventory? Bookkeeping? Income Tax? Marketing/Branding? Sales? Advertising? Social Media? Website Development?
  • Get quality training and mentoring from professionals!
  • Feedback from your community and access to community resources and networking opportunities.

Eligibility Requirements

You MUST live in Red Deer, Camrose, Rocky Mountain House, Lloydminster, or the surrounding communities within this general perimeter. This includes north of Airdrie to Leduc and from border-to-border. 

Preference will be given to an individual who is an unemployed person whom, when participating in the SE program is:

  • an active regular EI benefit claimant, or
  • has had an EI benefit period that ended within the previous 60 months, or
  • has paid sufficient employee premiums (earned more than $2,000 / year employment income) in at least 5 of the previous 10 calendar years.

Priority is given to individuals who:

  • Own 51% of the proposed business and
  • Are not receiving business training from a franchise company

Upon completion of formal instruction and business plan completion, you will be expected to begin implementation of your business on a full-time basis (minimum of 30 hours per week).

You MUST be:

  • Unemployed or underemployed (working 20 hours or less).
  • Eligible to work in Canada.
  • Possess the educational or pre-requisite skills needed to operate your business.
  • 18 years of age or older.

You MUST have:

  • A viable business idea for starting a new business or taking over an existing business where you have not had prior ownership.
  • The capital or access to capital needed to start and operate your business.
  • The personal attributes to be a successful entrepreneur.
  • The skills and knowledge of the products or services pertaining to your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BWCA?

Business Works Central Alberta or BWCA  is a  fully sponsored FREE 26-week self-employment training program designed to help people shift from unemployment to self-employment in Central Alberta.

How long has BWCA been offered in Central Alberta?

The BWCA program has successfully helped people develop and launch over 100 self employment businesses in Central Alberta since November 2018.

Alberta Labour contracted ETHOS Career Management Group, a company with 20+ years of experience in the employment training industry, to deliver the BWCA program.

What is the BWCA service area?

BWCA serves Central Alberta including the areas between Airdrie to Leduc, and west to Rocky Mountain House to east to Lloydminster. If you call this region home, we’d love to work with you.

I don't live in Central Alberta, what are my options?

Similar programs are offered for other areas of Alberta and can be found here:

https://www.alberta.ca/employment-training-services-directory.aspx

How much does the program cost?

The program is FREE for qualifying participants and is fully funded.

There is no cost to the participant for training or related coaching services.

When do new intakes begin?

New intakes are scheduled to begin on the following dates:

  • March 22, 2021
  • June 7, 2021
  • Aug 23, 2021
  • Nov 8, 2021
  • Jan 17, 2022
  • Mar 21, 2022
Who's eligible for this program?

To consideration into the BWCA Self-Employment (SE) Training program you must be:

  • Unemployed or underemployed (working less than 20 hours per week)
  • Eligible to work in Canada
  • Possess the educational or pre-requisite skills needed to operate your business
  • Are 18 years of age or older
  • Have a viable business idea for starting a new business or taking over an existing business where you have not had prior ownership
  • Have the capital or access to capital needed to start and operate your business
  • Have the personal attributes to be a successful entrepreneur
  • Have the skills and knowledge of the products or services pertaining to your business

Priority is given to individuals who:

  • Own 51% of the proposed business and
  • Are not receiving business training from a franchise company
  • Upon completion of formal instruction and business plan completion, you will be expected to begin implementation of your business on a full-time basis (minimum of 30 hours per week)

Preference will be give to an individual who is an unemployed person whom, when participating in the SE program is:

  • An active regular EI benefit claimant, or
  • Has had an active EI benefit period that ended within the previous 60 months, or
  • Has paid sufficient employee premiums (earned more than $2000 / year employment income) in at least 5 of the previous 10 calendar years.
Can I be receiving EI and participate in this program

Yes, and any self-employment income you earn during the duration of the training does not impact your EI benefit amount!

I'm unemployed, is this program for me?

The ideal participant in the Self-Employment training program is unemployed, with an active EI regular benefits claim where self-employment becomes the job the person is actively looking to attain. You can continue to collect EI while registered in this program. Further details can be provided when you reach out to us directly. 

I'm not receiving EI, could I still qualify?

Yes, we are able to take a limited number of participants that are not eligible for EI.

I work full-time, is this program for me?

The program is for unemployed or underemployed participants. You need to be working 20 hours or less per week.

Are there other personal support options?

Personal support options may be available but vary for each individual based on personal circumstances.

Our Client Services Representative would be able to assess your personal situation and advise of any options that may be available.

What types of businesses have launched with the help of BWCA?

Here are some of the recent examples, to name a few:

Business & Professional Services

  • Engineering Consulting
  • Customer Service Retention Consultation
  • OH & Safety
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Book Keeping Services
  • Virtual Assistance Services
  • IT Software Services
  • Marketing Services
  • Workplace Wellness
  • Mediation Services
  • Optical Services

Creative Services

  • Graphic Design
  • Literary Agency
  • Photography
  • Visual Arts
  • Custom Jewelry
  • Interior Design

Personal Services

  • Aesthetics
  • Nutrition and Wellness Coaching
  • Life/Business Coaching
  • Holistic Healing
  • Wedding & Event Planning
  • Bariatric Support Services
  • Nutritionist
  • Auto Detailing

Retail & Manufacturing

  • Hobby RC
  • Hemp Products
  • Custom Woodworking
  • Janitorial Products
  • Beeswax products

Agribusinesses

  • Market Garden
  • Beekeeping
  • Micro Greens

Construction Services

  • Tiny Home Construction
  • Home Repair & Renovation
  • Cabinet Installation & finishing
What topics are covered during the program?

The following topics are covered to provide a solid self-employment foundation to the participants:

  • Business Plan Development
  • Basic Bookkeeping
  • Branding Basics
  • Digital Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Networking
  • Social Media
  • Tax Tips

Other business topics covered include:

  • Financial Management/banking
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing/Branding
  • Sales
  • Networking
  • Presentation Skills
  • Social Media
  • The Gig Economy
  • Basic Website Development

Specialized topics presented include:

  • Preventing Business Fraud
  • E-Commerce
  • Operating a Business in Canada
  • Intellectual Property
  • Strategic Planning
  • Basic Computer Skills for Small Business
  • Customer Service
  • Self-awareness
  • Personal Development
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Inventory Tracking and Control
  • Privacy Training
When does the training happen?

Participants are expected to put in at least 25 hours per week during the first 10 weeks of the program (training and research included) and 30 hours per week for the balance of the program as they prepare to launch their business.

During the first 10 weeks:
Online training sessions are usually scheduled from 10:30 am -12:30 pm Monday to Friday. 

Going forward:
Coaching sessions are weekdays (once a week) between 8am and 4pm (1/2 hour to 1 hour duration each week).

Do I have to travel to attend this program?

No, the entire program can be completed online!

We use a combination of accessing an online learning management system and Zoom meetings and group calls. 

I see other self-employment training offered in the community, why choose BWCA?

BWCA provides expert assessments, business training, guidance, business coaching, and workshops, in a blended learning format.

BWCA has helped a variety of new businesses successfully launch and grow ranging from those offering business, professional and IT services, creative services, personal services, manufacturing, product sales, construction and renovation, online economy delivery and even agribusiness!

It all depends on the skills, experience, interest or desire you bring and wish to pursue as a business.

During the first 10 weeks, we walk you through the business concept and business plan development stage and in the remaining 16 weeks we guide and support you all the way to the launch of your business!

Our one-on-one coaching will provide that mindset shift support needed to prepare for this change. Best of all, it’s FREE if you meet the eligibility criteria.

We’re here to help you figure that out. By working with our team, you will have access to all the resources needed to start your business and set you up for success.

What can I expect over the 26 weeks?

Weeks 1-10 (25 hour per week commitment)

  • Business plan development
  • Market research
  • Group coaching
  • Complete a business plan and present it to a team of adjudicators that will provide valuable feedback

Weeks 11-26 (30 hour per week commitment)

  • Weekly 1:1 coaching
  • Workshops

You even get a bonus 90 days of bi-weekly coaching support and mentorship AFTER you launch your business!

Is it a full-time commitment? What's expected of me

The time commitment required is 25 hours per week (for the first 10 weeks) or 30 hours per week (from week 11 onward).

Here are some examples of specific expectations of the participants of the BWCA program:

  • submit a weekly activity report to confirm that I have completed the requirements of the program,
  • complete and submit my business plan within the time described,
  • notify my BWCA Coach of any changes to my business idea,
  • advise my BWCA Coach of any change to my employment situation that may affect my participation in the BWCA program,
  • notify my BWCA Coach if I change my address or other contact information, and
  • attend any meetings/trainings required by my BWCA Coach or management.
Do I have to have a business idea or does the program help me with that?

Yes, you do have a viable business idea for starting a new business or be taking over an existing business where you have not had prior ownership.

We help you develop the concept and create a business plan.

Do I need to have all of the funds needed to start my business concept?

You need to have the capital or access to capital needed to start and operate your business.

Your business operations can be phased to align with your available resources. 

Does BWCA provide grants? What might be available?

There are no grants provided through this program but our coaches can provide insight as to what grants might be available and how to go about obtaining them.

I've never run a business before, does the program include coaching and support in that transition?

Yes, our coaches are here to help you transition from being unemployed to self-employed.

Going from employee to business owner is a big change with the mindset being one of the biggest shifts required to do this successfully. 

Do I have to have the skills and knowledge needed to do my proposed business idea?

Yes, you would need to possess the educational or pre-requisite skills needed to operate your business, this is especially true if there’s any accreditation or licensing requirements for your proposed business pursuit.

If you have years of experience whether it be on-the-job or acquired over your life, perhaps a passion, hobby or interest, this is another place to launch your self-employment journey.

How many take the program at one-time?

Our contract currently allows us to take only 14 participants for each intake. This ensures a strong coach to participant ratio and custom approach to learning. 

Do I get to meet other BWCA particpants?

Yes, we highly encourage networking between participants. In addition to group calls, there’s a private chat group to participate in with your cohort and past participants!

A great way to build your connections and create a referral community. 

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Open Registration

A new cohort of 14 participants from Central Alberta begin their self-employment journey every quarter.

Intakes are on-going – reach out to us today to see if you qualify for this opportunity to launch your own business on a solid foundation.

A new intake begins every quarter. Space is limited, so submit your inquiry form today.

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Intake Information

Begin the application process by clicking the “Begin Your Self-Employment Journey Here” button below!

Next Steps:

Your application will be reviewed and an interview set up if your application meets the eligibility requirements.

Shift from Unemployment
to Self-Employment

Find out if you qualify today.

Interested but want more information? Or ready to see if you qualify?

Click the “Begin your Self-Employment Journey Here” button and fill out the Business Works Central Alberta Self-Employment program Interest Form.

A BWCA team member will be in contact with you shortly to learn more about your situation and business idea.

Funded by:

The Province of Alberta is working in partnership with the Government of Canada to provide employment support programs and services.

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