Investing in the development of small businesses contributes to the health of the economy and innovation in Montréal, helping companies in a variety of sectors to meet their growth challenges.
Each year, 30 companies from all sectors of activity participate in the program. They take seminars on branding, marketing, human resources management, business models and design thinking. In addition to sharing their experiences with one another, these companies take part in workshops that are targeted to their needs. “The ‘Parcours Innovation’ program gives entrepreneurs the chance to take a break and step back in order to think strategically,” said Sandrine Gilbert-Blanchard, economic development commissioner for the city. “It’s a time investment with significant benefits for participating small businesses.”
Before the program begins, participants must identify a business issue that they’d like to work on. “This question allows them to keep their objective in mind all year long and begin to implement solutions,” said Gilbert-Blanchard. In addition to training seminars and workshops, participants have access to 20 hours of individual coaching, networking activities, the chance to participate in C2 Montréal and preparation for this major event. “Small businesses offer 98 per cent of jobs in the Montréal area. This assistance has nothing but positive impacts on the city. It gives us businesses with longevity that have good human resources practices and are innovative.”
To date, 260 companies have participated in the “Parcours Innovation” program, which was created in 2015 in partnership with Services Québec.
Strategic placement for Dynamo
En 2019, France Brochu participated in the “Parcours Innovation” program. She is the executive director of the social economy company Dynamo and describes herself as a pioneer. “I was educated as a lawyer and I come from the community sector. Being an entrepreneur is a level up and being an entrepreneur for the common good is another level up. I needed an accelerator to help me to the next level. As entrepreneurs, isolation can be very dangerous. I needed to connect with other entrepreneurs outside my network,” she said. By joining the program, she hoped to strengthen her strategic placement and diversify her client base.
The program didn’t just help Brochu solve that particular problem. It also gave her tools to carry out strategic planning. “I linked other issues the business was facing, like talent retention, to my problem, and it helped me find creative and consistent solutions,” she said. Another big advantage of taking part in the program was creating a strong network that she still has today. One of the partners she met now sits on Dynamo’s board of directors.
When time is an investment
For an entrepreneur that invests in her business every day, the “Parcours Innovation” program is a commitment that can seem overwhelming at first. “It’s an intense and necessary commitment,” said Brochu. “Please note that I did not use the word ‘but.’ The program has tremendous intensity, but if you take part in it seriously, there are huge gains to be maid. You learn something one day and integrate it into your business the next day!”
The program also offers the chance for several members of a company to participate in its activities.”I went with our operations director and communications manager. It’s such a gift to do these workshops as a team,” said Brochu. “It gave us the chance to talk about what we learned together and evolve together.” When asked if the program was worth doing, she said, “It’s so worth it! Once it was over, I wanted to do it all over again.”
Would you like to be part of the next “Parcours Innovation” group? Visit parcoursinnovation.com (in French).