The future of business Community Futures Development is in the midst of an outreach program for people who are thinking about, or already have, opened their own businesses. In November the group presents a lecture on customer service and in December it imparts marketing wisdom. Both courses are free of charge and will take place in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. Megan Olesky says that the program is a direct response to requests from small businesses. "We get a lot of requests for selling skills and marketing information. Often when you start your own business it’s tough to wear a lot of different hats. Everyone has their own focus but generally public relations, marketing and book-keeping aren’t people’s strong points. So for the next six months we are running courses to suit the climate." Community Futures’ mandate is to promote and support economic growth in the community. In addition to the present lecture series the group is involved in providing loans for small businesses, analysing new business ideas and providing training in new technology. "Basically we are here to make it easier to start a small business and work with a small business in the corridor," says Olesky. This is the first time Community Futures has stretched out as far as Pemberton to hold separate lectures. "Before they were always held in one spot, but we recognize that it’s hard for someone from Pemberton to get down to Squamish. We’ll give this a try and if it doesn’t work we’ll go back to one location per month." The development programs seek to get the information out to the public so people can operate businesses by being better informed. "Self employment tend to be the most viable option for most people. This is about helping people who don’t know how. We teach how to close sales and how to do basic accounting. We have to give people what they think they need right now. If they are interested in seeing what the responsibility is like it is a good chance for people to network. You can talk to people with the same problems or same challenges. It’s good to talk." The next lecture is called Customer Service and will discuss the process of providing the best possible service to your customers to increase business and reduce frustration. It will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Best Western in Squamish on Nov. 2, the conference centre in Whistler on Nov. 3 and at the Pemberton Community Centre on Nov. 4. Course instructors are local corridor residents.