The future of work has arrived ahead of schedule. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the adoption of technology and the need for all business owners to reimagine how they operate and connect with their customers. The truth is, this digital transformation is nothing new, it has been happening slowly for years. Now, as businesses and consumers are spending more time and more dollars online, companies must move faster to figure out the new digital reality.
To help businesses adapt to an increasingly digital world, Accelerate Okanagan is currently running the DER3 Program, which connects local businesses with local digital service providers and subject matter expertise to help them enter or expand into the digital economy. The program starts with an assessment to understand how you are currently leveraging technology in your business and where you can make improvements that will have the biggest impact.
We sat down with Kristian de Pont of Good Sorts, one of the companies participating in the DER3 program, to learn more about his experiences so far and what he’s discovered about improving his digital strategy.
Good Sorts is a commercial cleaning and janitorial services company in the Okanagan. To counter the traditionally overlooked aspect of the industry, Good Sorts focuses on building and highlighting an exceptional team—giving them an opportunity to do quality work immersed in a supportive culture. Or, as Kristian would put it, “bloody good people doing bloody good work.”
When did you start your business?
Good Sorts started in 2020 as a side project to earn some extra cash. The pandemic made me realize that it was something I needed to do full time. I had a couple contracts initially but a much larger one came my way and it became a fork in the road for me. Do I walk away from a stable career or do I take that leap and be a full-time entrepreneur? Having heard of the DER3 program, I knew that I could start the conversations I needed in order to successfully put a business out into the world.
What motivated you to join the DER3 program?
I didn’t know the true breadth of having a digital strategy—even though I was coming from a company that was all about small business marketing. I had a website built when I reached out to Accelerate Okanagan, but it was only scratching the surface of what it needed to be in order to meet my goals for building a strong online presence. Incorporating search engine optimization being one of the foremost aspects.
What was one of the most important takeaways from your DER3 conversations?
I went into my meeting with DER3 Business Advisor, Richard Takai, with questions about the grainy details that I needed to build my digital strategy. I walked out with a different perspective on what I needed to work on that wasn’t necessarily in the digital space. Yes, there were some digital flavours in there, but Richard helped me understand that sometimes it’s about knowing five well-connected people and building quality relationships, instead of trying to cast a wide net to catch slim connections. We talked a lot about what made Good Sorts unique in the market and he showed me how the ethos of my company was what made it different—being kind to people in the industry and treating them well.
What are your next steps going to be for Good Sorts?
A lot of what I do next will stem from finding out how I can tell a better story using Good Sorts’ ethos. I need to really understand what I want people to know about my business when they visit me online. When I met with Aidan, she helped share some details around building a social media strategy and understanding ways that I can convey certain messages to my audience. It’s challenging when it’s a business that isn’t very sexy. It’s not something you’re going to find scrolling through Instagram of holiday destinations and your mate’s eggs benedict. You won’t see a pearly white toilet bowl in there.
Are you planning on connecting with any digital service providers?
I need to work on improving the search engine optimization of my site. I’ve been put in touch with some SEO experts in town but, financially, it’s a little inaccessible right now. So, I’m trying to learn how to do it myself. The connections and meetings with Aidan and Richard have paved a blueprint for where I need to go once I have more room in the budget. I just need to work on getting to a place where that’s feasible.
Were you intimidated about your next steps after meeting with the DER3 Advisors?
What’s intimidating is the time involved. It’s an important piece of the company, but SEO is a lot to learn and execute for a small business owner. I’ve got operations to run, procurement, and so many other facets of the business to manage. I need to work on finding consistent time to develop content, or find the money to hire others. Either way, getting more connected with Accelerate Okanagan and access to community resources has been invaluable in ensuring I have a path forward.
Interested in DER3? Connect with DER3 Business Advisor, Richard Takai.
Ready to apply? Small and mainstreet businesses looking for solutions and support can apply here.
Want to help? Digital service providers, consultants, freelancers, and technology experts apply here.