The Effort to Bring More Relevant Brands and Skills to Cape Breton

This is an opinion post.

Cape Breton’s business scene is still behind the times. When I last gave living in Cape Breton a go, I figured I’d follow the ‘adults’; working under their leadership and their example of how to do business. But flashy lights and big cities caught my attention – I moved away.

Those years living away really broadened my perspective of how successful businesses operate. The fast-paced sales scene, deploying new marketing campaigns, rapidly hiring and expanding office space, etc.

Living away opened my eyes of how accessible the world really is. If you want to do business with NASCAR, you can. If you want to reach out to Google, you can. If you want to learn skills from Salesforce or Hubspot, you can.

It’s all sitting there waiting for you.

When I moved back to Cape Breton, I quickly realized how different the business scene was. People complained more, talked about people and groups behind their back, and did very little (if anything) to contribute to the community and address the problems they were so eager to point out.

I think part of it stems from the fact that many people in Cape Breton simply don’t know how to make money; not having experience making phone calls, sending emails, writing proposals, or running sales calls. I was confused for a long time of how so many businesses could continue to exist after hearing multiple rumours, stories, and seeing the lack of interest in certain businesses.

What I later learned was that many programs, jobs, and groups are heavily subsidized and, by some sort of magic, seem to never have cashflow problems and spend money without hopes to breakeven or profit from their investments. Is it just me who’s noticing this?

In my studies of CED at Cape Breton University, we learned that many of these programs exist to address gaps in income, skills, wages, etc. For example, non-profits don’t have much cashflow when compared to for-profit companies. Because for-profits have more spending power, they can afford more skillful talent. This leaves non-profits disadvantaged when it comes to their team’s skillsets (generally speaking here).

Something I’ve been volunteering with to address those skill gaps is hosting/facilitating events in Sydney to teach people skills behind digital marketing, sales, operations, etc. In my perspective, I’m helping others understand how to make money (so they can go run their businesses in a sustainable way).

However, these workshop events haven’t really caught on with the community. So is my solution wrong? Would a different format or solution raise the interest-level? One recent effort being led by Darren MacDonald from CBU’s Innovation and Entrepreneurial Centre is “Startup Weekend” (November 15-17, 2019). This event, so far, appears to be of more interest to people.

Maybe the effort and angle for improved motivation, skill development, and community development is bringing more reputable people, brands, and organizations to Cape Breton; giving residents access to names and talent like Google, Techstars, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.

Not everyone has had the opportunity to move away from Cape Breton like I did, but it’s possible these larger brands and events could bring that missing perspective to our community (which I think it desperately needs).