Kerry Buck won the Best of the Best Business Plan Competition

Kerry Buck won the Best of the Best Business Plan Competition

Aboriginal best

Kerry Buck and her husband Morgan's business is not yet one year old, but it has already won recognition twice over.

Kerry Buck and her husband Morgan’s business is not yet one year old, but it has already won recognition twice over.

After their business Silver Springs Country Recreation and Wellness became a finalist in last year’s Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Start up Business Contest, they learned from the contest and judges’ feedback their business plan needed further work.

“That’s one of the reasons I jumped on this course when Amelia said it was coming,” said Kerry.

She used the feedback from the first contest to then enter into the Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Skills Training (Aboriginal BEST) which was offered earlier in the year at Nak’azdli.

Through the program, Kerry said she worked on further developing their business plan, from target marketing to better planning the three-year financial plan for the business.

This then allowed participants to enter their business in the Best of the Best competition, which each of the 10 participating communities selected one applicant to go on to the finals to represent their community.

The local panel to select a finalist consisted of four local judges, two from CIBC, one from TABA Enterprises, and Bonnie Hill, who works for Nak’azdli Band.

“The individuals had to show an interest in being part of the competition,” said Amelia Stark, Nak’azdli Employment Training Services manager. So, the panelists selected Silver Springs, and Kerry had the opportunity to move on to the finals.

The finals this year were held in Toronto, Ontario, so finalists were treated to a trip to the big city, with flights, rooms, food and additional conference participation all included.

They had one day to prepare on their own, then Kerry said the finalists came together as a group and worked with three mentors for a day, and on the third day, they presented to the panel, with each finalist making a 20-minute pitch to the judges.

“Such good ideas, lots of new, innovative ideas,” said Kerry of her competition.

Silver Springs Country Recreation and Wellness received first place out of the 10 participating communities from across the province, and Kerry said she did a lot of networking and talking to mentors while she was there, not to mention she spent three days in a suit.

“I always tell the kids, you need to dress for where you’re going to be,” she said.

The Aboriginal BEST training was offered in Fort St. James as one of 10 communities across B.C. selected to host it.

Stark put together the proposal for the community to host the event.

Stark said there were 20 entrepreneurs enrolled in the program, about half aboriginals and half non-aboriginals, and about 15 of those graduated from the intensive 12-module program.

Participants came on Friday night and Saturday day every second week for the program’s duration, and worked on everything from public speaking to marketing to calculating expenditures and potential revenue.

Kerry said the instructor for the program, Laura Blumhagen, who came from Prince George, was fabulous and people got out of the program as much as they put in.

“There’s a lot of resources out there, you just need to look for them,” said Stark.

Silver Springs Country Recreation and Wellness