10 to Watch 2017: SOHO Victoria

“There are people in the world who just do what happens to them. And there are other people who make their lives happen. I like to create and build things.”

Photograph by Derek Ford.

Chris Burdge founder of the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) Victoria Conference, knows about the challenges of running a small business. Nine years ago, he launched the Internet marketing company bWest Interactive and turned it into a success. But while he excelled at marketing and social media, things like accounting and bookkeeping made him want to stuff his head in the sand and hope it all went away. “But it doesn’t,” says Burdge, who also co-founded Social Media Camp.

Then, a couple of years ago, Burdge was meeting with his networking group — consisting of himself, a lawyer, an accountant, an IT specialist and people representing several other business domains — when it struck him that he was sitting on a small-business gold mine.

“I got a lot of practical advice, mentorship and camaraderie from them,” he says. “So I’m sitting in the meeting and thinking about all the input and value I get from the group and I thought, ‘I wonder how other small-business people get this sort of advice and feedback and support?’”

And SOHO Victoria was born. Now in its second year, the conference acts like a networking and mentorship intensive for small and home-based business owners, bringing people with a range of wisdom together, including those starting out and wanting to grow. With two successful years of SOHO Victoria behind him, Burdge now hopes to expand to other locations in Western Canada.

Q&A with Chris Burdge of SOHO Victoria

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Whatever your idea is, go out and talk to people about it, get feedback and then just do it. The other thing that goes along with that is … the idea of not wanting to perfect something. There’s a saying in software development that “good enough is sometimes good enough.” It’s better to be in market with a product than [satisfying] the need for it to be perfect. I don’t spend a lot of time continuing to polish things. Sometimes it’s better to just get it out there and go on to the next thing.

What are you most proud of?

I’ve developed a few things. Social Media Camp is the biggest social media conference in Canada now. Some of the stuff I hear coming out of it is inspiring: like at the very first one we did, somebody got a job. I like stuff like that, when I hear that good things happen for people.

SOHO Victoria Business Profile

Type of business: Conference and networking for small companies and home-based businesses.

Year founded: 2015

Owner/principal: Chris Burdge

Employees/contractors: 1

What sets you apart? SOHO Victoria is an annual one-day event that includes speakers, workshops, round-table discussions and one-on-one expert adviser sessions to help small and home offices grow their businesses.

This article is from the April/May 2017 issue of Douglas.