September marks the official shift from summer into fall.
For many businesses, it’s a time to shift gears on their annual strategies. A lot of organizations slow down in July and August as staff and clients spend time on holidays, before ramping back up in September to finish their year with a productive fourth quarter. Other businesses make hay while the days are long, catering to visitors and the summer crowds that keep our hospitality sector healthy. For them, the start of school and slower nights can add to the challenge of finding and keeping staff. And, for some, the slower season is their chance to take a break before planning for the year ahead.
Any time your business experiences a shift, it’s important to be prepared for the change. I’m thinking specifically about two areas that are becoming more important than ever and deserve a good roadmap.
The first is climate action leadership. Fall might be here, but many regions of British Columbia are still experiencing the effects of ongoing forest fires. The province has experienced an extended stretch of dry weather, which means drought conditions could impact farmers’ future harvests. Dry watersheds can also leave communities prone to flooding when the rain does finally arrive. These events are devastating and, sadly, part of our new paradigm. Climatologists tell us we can longer dismiss catastrophic events as “once in a lifetime” or “100-year” events.
The truth is, we don’t know how often these events will occur going forward. That means we need to plan for realities that past generations never imagined. Food security, for example, has proven to be much more of a vulnerability than expected. The good news is that there are innovators in our business community who recognize the challenges and are doing amazing work to provide solutions. This is an opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs. The demand for sustainability is growing, and I’m excited to see how the market responds to supply the goods and services that the public wants. At The Chamber, we’re planning to support this shift by showcasing how businesses thrive as part of this change, while continuing our advocacy for investment in innovations led by the private sector. We also see an increasing opportunity to learn from Indigenous ways of knowing by supporting the growth of First Nations entrepreneurs. Their perspective on the centering sustainability in the vision statement of all organizations is truly invaluable.
The other seismic event occurring in the business world is the need for succession planning. Almost every country is facing an aging population as my generation, the baby boomers, looks to wind down after many decades in the workforce. For family businesses, this can mean that parents who have been hands on in day-to-day operations begin to delegate more duties to the children who have grown into larger roles within the organization. It’s a beautiful transition, though one ripe with pitfalls.
Thankfully, there exists a wonderful and supportive community of family business owners on Vancouver Island. I’m proud to announce that The Chamber has formally joined the mission to help future generations find harmony and success.
This summer, we created a new Family Business Committee to take on the work of the former Family Business Association of Vancouver Island. The shift was the result of succession planning and is a positive change for both organizations. For example, we are proud to host a special dinner this month with David Bentall, one of B.C.’s top experts on family businesses. David has experienced a lot in his career, including the traumatic fracturing of a powerful family empire and the joy of leading one of the province’s most iconic property developers. He’s now an author and speaker and we’re thrilled to host him on Sept. 27. I hope you’ll join us.
Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
The column originally appeared in the September edition of the Business Examiner.