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Innovation & Job News

Entrepreneur in Residence program kicks off its second year at the Toronto Public Library

Though many of us still think of libraries as a place to pick up the latest fiction or catch up on back copies of favourite magazines, there's a substantial amount of programming that is oriented to very practical, day-to-day aspects of life in the city.

One example: resources available to small businesses, ranging from meeting space to specialized business databases. Libraries are increasingly becoming community hubs in Toronto, places where workshops and other events can be as important as what's on the shelves.

A part of all this: the library's entrepreneur-in-residence program, which is now entering its second year. This year's entrepreneur in residence is Jean Chow, a business coach with decades of small business experience. She'll be officially launching the program with an on-stage Q&A at the Toronto Reference Library on Wednesday, October 2; a second event—a drop-in session for entrepreneurs seeking advice—takes place a week later, on October 9.

It isn't just public events though. Chow will be offering other support as well. "Part of the [program's] mandate," she explains, "is to have a look at newly submitted business ideas, and…select 20 of them to give one-on-one consultations on how entrepreneurs can start their business." Effectively, Chow will be providing a free session of business coaching to each of the 20 applicants whose ideas she thinks are most promising. (If you're interested in taking part, you have until October 16 to submit your application.)

We asked Chow what she'd be looking for in the proposals, and what would make an applicant stand out.

"Number one," she says, "what i'm looking for is uniqueness and how well you know your customer. You know not only what you're selling, but who you're selling to." She wants ideas she hasn't heard before, and ones that are well-timed given current trends. After that, Chow goes on, what matters is the applicants themselves—whether they have any entrepreneurial experience (even with a family member who might have exposed them to the mindset a new business owner needs) and whether they are deeply passionate about their idea.

But what's most important to Chow is that people come out, and give a workshop or an application a try. "The library programs are free and they're good for any level of business learning," she emphasizes, and taking steps to learn more is the essential first step.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Jean Chow, Entrepreneur in Residence, Toronto Public Library
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