Canada is rich with business resources. We take starting a business seriously, and it shows: every level of government offers assistance, programs and resources for entrepreneurs. There are also numerous places to turn for financial support to start a business, such as government-backed loans, subsidies, grants, free business-training programs and generous tax credits and deductions.
Yet finding these amazing services and initiatives isn't always easy—especially if you're new to this country. So, here's a primer on my four favourite resources:
Canada Business Network
The mother ship for entrepreneurship across the country is the Canada Business Network, which is designed to promotes entrepreneurship and provides assistance, resources and information to business owners across Canada through a network of self-help centres in each province and territory. These centres (they carry different names—some are called Canada Business Service Centres and others Small Business Enterprise Centres)—are usually located within a city hall, public library or business incubator facility.
The focus of these centres is to match your needs to government initiatives that can help. Locate a centre near you by visiting the Canada Business Network website or searching the blue pages of your telephone book under the federal government.
In addition to finding a service centre, you can also search Canada Business's massive online portal for financing programs, apply for business permits and licenses, learn about running a business, conduct market research, investigate taxes, find a networking event and more.
Business Development Bank
With offices in most Canadian cities and offering services in both English and French, the Business Development Bank of Canada exists solely to serve small and medium-sized businesses with flexible financing, venture capital and consulting services. It does not serve consumers, offer bank accounts, transact cash or sell investment products such as RRSPs. As a financial institution owned by the Government of Canada, the BDC is a complementary lender, meaning the loans and investments it offers fill out or complete services available from commercial financial institutions.
Visit the online Advice Centre to access an impressive list of helpful articles and tools.
Navigating the confusing world of permits and licenses can give any entrepreneur a headache, and more so if you are new to Canada and less familiar with the way our laws and regulatory bodies work.
BizPal helps make this simpler. This online resource involving federal, provincial, municipal and territorial governments helps you cut through a lot of red tape when applying for the permits and licences you need.
The largest small-business organization in the country, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) makes things easier for entrepreneurs by offering business advice, negotiating deals with service providers and conducting advocacy to different levels of governments.
CFIB is best known for its successful government lobbying efforts to fight taxes, but few people know about the privilege program it offers. Because of the size of its membership, the CFIB is able to negotiate attractive deals on bank accounts, credit card payment processing and insurance. Not only can these discounts save you money, they can also save you the time it would take to negotiate a deal individually.
Another little-known service of CFIB is the professional advocates and advisors that are available to help entrepreneurs deal with a variety of issues, from working with the Canada Revenue Agency to crafting a business plan.
Access to CFIB is restricted to members only. Membership fees vary depending on a number of criteria, but are nominal considering the vast array of services offered.
Canada wants your new business to succeed. And, given the abundance of support and resources available to new entrepreneurs, there's no reason it shouldn't.
Roger Pierce is the founder of NewcomerStartup.com, co-author of the book Thriving Solo: How to Grow a Successful Business and one of Canada's top experts on starting up. Pierce helps others get into business by sharing what he's learned from launching 12 companies.
New to Canada? This is Part 3 of startup expert Roger Pierce's 7-part series on how to make your venture a true Canadian success story.
Read Part 1: Essential Immigrant Startup Guide: Know This Before Launch, outlining important tools for entrepreneurs
Read Part 2: Essential Immigrant Startup Guide: There's No Barter at The Gap, which explains how to manage the distinctions between Canadian businesses and those back home