By Clarence Ngoh
GANDER, NL – Certain principles set up a person and business for success, according to
Wanda Pittman, Econo-Malls regional manager for Atlantic Canada.
Pittman was one of the exhibitors at the 2nd Annual Business Symposium and Showcase held at the Quality Hotel & Suites in Gander Oct. 17.
Part of Pittman’s role is “networking with the various communities the malls are in, being on the pulse of what is happening in the community, and (ensuring) the malls are well represented,” she said.
One of the common threads running through the different conversations at the symposium is that consumers are looking for more variety and shopping opportunities, Pittman said.
But providing this is not that simple, she says.
“The market may not tolerate it.”
A significant challenge to providing variety and services for small businesses – what Pittman calls the “mom and pop” operations – is lack of local support.
“People are not necessarily shopping local, and shopping local is very critical for local business to stay in business,” she said.
“They rely on the local community.”
Another key to business success is knowing your market by conducting thorough research; following the head more than the heart is often safer, with a more favourable outcome.
“Different markets have different needs with different demographics,” said Pittman. “If you’ve done your research on what the community is looking for, then you’ll be successful. If you have not done your research, and you open a business for something you believe in, but it’s not conducive to what the market can accept, then you will not be successful.”
Diversity is another key to success, according to Pittman.
“You must continue to evolve and sell different types of items, in addition to looking at your marketing strategies, customer service experience, and the type of person hired to run the business.”
The biggest challenges Gander faces is recruiting workers and providing affordable housing in the area, according to Pittman.
“There is a need for more affordable housing for more folks who are able to work, and want to work, but cannot because they can’t afford to live here,” Pittman said.
“It is probably one of our weakest areas – we don’t have the infrastructure to support that.”
Pittman empathises with families who are struggling and her advice is to “always work.”
“Don’t ever go home and stay home. Always be out and showing your work. Your work ethic, and your perseverance, is what employers look for. Network with people. Your reputation is everything.”
The Business Symposium and Showcase was a Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce event.