Self Employment

Small business in BC is big… according to the numbers it equates to ninety-eight per cent of all businesses and forty-five per cent of all employment, in the province. The majority of these small businesses, eighty-two per cent, are classified as micro (meaning they have zero to four employees).

Yes, as you can tell I am fascinated by numbers. It is not because of what they mean. No number will tell a single truth. It is because of the stories they can tell and the questions they will raise. These numbers tell me that in Fernie the success of small business is huge to our community and economy. These numbers also tell me that there may be something in the water because it feels like a lot of people have started their own business here.

Starting your own business and being self-employed isn’t for everyone. It requires not only a great idea and resources, but a fair bit of guts as well. Entrepreneurship, from what I hear, will test you – from exploration to start up and then even twenty years later. How suited you are (and in what ways and for what types of businesses) will relate to your experience, traits, lifestyle, attitudes, and goals. The thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to be perfect at everything… just know when to hire or ask for help.

If and once you have decided you’d make an excellent entrepreneur, you are going to have to develop your business idea into something profitable, write a business plan, conduct product and market research, secure funding, establish a business structure, and then set it up for launch. Throughout this process you will need help and have to consult with a number of individuals and institutions. This can feel like a labyrinth or simply frustrating as more doors seem to close than open. Fortunately, here in Fernie we have some excellent support available just around the corner. Nothing better than a friendly, knowledgeable face down the street!

  • Are you thinking of starting a business, but not yet started? Check out if you are eligible for self-employment services through a WorkBC Employment Services Centre, EK Employment Elk Valley (
  • Are you up and running and need help? Contact the Business Basin Advisor Program ( for business counselling, detailed assessment or in-depth financial analysis.
  • Are you having a hard time getting financing? Maybe Community Futures East Kootenay ( can connect you with needed capital through a loan or set you up with a workshop.
  • Feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Membership with the Fernie Chamber of Commerce ( can connect you to a central hub for building commerce and with like-minded individuals.

With small business month having just passed in October and a shopping frenzy likely to kick-start in November with Black Friday, I’d like to salute the small businesses here in Fernie. Thank you for taking the risk and for providing not only top shelf service and products, but also excellent employment opportunities for so many here!

Like I said, Fernie is full of amazing entrepreneurs. Here is the story of one such person who is self-employed.

Resident Feature

Name: Todd Paterson

Business: Kootenay Electric Company

What was your first job in the Valley?
Fernie Sports (that was located in the building right beside Mountain View Dental).

Why is Fernie a great place to work?

I enjoy working in Fernie because of the people in our community. It doesn't ever feel like "work" because of the friendly people I deal with on a day-to-day basis.

What is it about your job that you love?
I love my job because of the all the different tasks and troubleshooting that we encounter daily. Being my own boss also affords some flexibility to either help with our kids Griffin and Kaden or maybe get out for a couple hours for a ski date with my wife Terry.

If you could relay one piece of advice to someone working toward their "dream" job, what would that be?
My one piece of advice is something I was told a long time ago while apprenticing. "Let your conscience be your guide." In other words, always do your best work and treat people in a way that you will be proud of.