Why SMARTstart?

The harsh reality is that many local small businesses struggle to get started and find it challenging to make it past their first 3-5 years.  Canadian studies show that only 35% of new businesses survive those first crucial years.

But there is hope!  Statistics also show that business owners with education in entrepreneurship, or previous entrepreneur experience, have an 80-90% chance of success with a new business.  That's why SMARTstart was developed - to increase businesses' odds of success.

What is SMARTstart?

SMARTstart is an 8-month entrepreneurial training program designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.  It provides entrepreneurs with tools, business planning, and a mentor.  This program provides the knowledge and skills needed to succeed with your business.  SMARTstart supports the continued growth, development, and success of our business community.

SMARTstart consists of 3 main components:

  1. GoForth's 100 Essential Small Business Skills online training.  It contains 15 modules on a wide range of topics from human resources to marketing to accounting.  For more detailed information, please click here.
  2. In-Person Workshops/Sessions.  Primarily, workshops are comprised of small groups which provide an opportunity to network with fellow participants and mentors.  All workshops are delivered in Hinton by local experts.  Topics range from taxation to branding to insurance.  These workshops supplement the online training.  Workshops will alternate between lunch and evening sessions.  Workshops are an hour and a half long - 11:45 am to 1:15 pm including lunch, AND 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm for evening sessions.  In addition, there are other events and sessions - i.e. orientation sessions for both mentors and mentees, peer-to-peer sessions, community networking event, etc.  
  3. Mentorship.  Past participants think this is one of the most valuable parts of the program.  Participants will be paired with a local, experienced business owner that will guide them through the business plan development process.  Participants will have one-on-one time with their mentors to discuss concerns and challenges, or obtain advice on business development.  Mentors and mentees will be paired based on the entrepreneur's needs and the mentor's experience and skill set.  There will be a speed networking event at the beginning of the program that allows applicants and mentors to meet.

Who's it for?

  • Entrepreneurs with an idea for a business, whether already in operations or still determining the viability of the idea.
  • Entrepreneurs who own a business that has been operating for less than 5 years, including home-based businesses, partnerships, and owner-operated franchises.
  • Residents of West Yellowhead OR entrepreneurs intending to start their business here.  You don't have to live here, but you do need to have the intention of starting your business in West Yellowhead.
  • Entrepreneurs must be at least 18 years old.
  • All types of businesses are eligible.  Big or small - we take them all!

Program Outcome

To complete the program, applicants must submit a final business plan, feasibility study or strategic plan.  The type of plan will depend on their particular situation.  For example, if you have a business idea, it's very likely that you would work on a feasibility study/analysis to determine if your idea is viable.  Research very strongly shows that businesses with a PLAN will be more successful.


The application fee for SMARTstart is $299 per person.  The application fee includes everything - license fee, online training registration, all workshops, sessions, and events.  

Apply today at, or contact the Community Futures West Yellowhead office for more information.  

Contact Us

  1. SMARTstart logo


    221 Pembina Drive
    Hinton, AB
    T7V 2B3

    Tel.: (780) 865-1224
    Toll free: 1-800-263-1716
    Fax: (780) 865-1227


    8:30 am to 4:30 pm
    (closed from noon to 1:00 pm)