Canada has sometimes been called a mecca for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. While the term mecca is something of an exaggeration, there’s no denying that Canada is home to some wonderful opportunities for new businesses – particularly for start-up businesses in Vancouver, BC. This is due to a wide range of reasons: government-funded programs, an entrepreneurial mindset, tons of local talent, outstanding complementary post-secondary programs, private funding and more.
Need proof of Canada’s entrepreneur and start-up business drive? Check out the 2019 list of the world’s top 100 most promising upstart companies (those established for less than two years) and see that five of the companies are Canadian. One of which is a start-up business in Vancouver.
Perhaps the biggest barrier to start-up companies is their ability to raise the capital they need to get started in business and get through the first couple of lean years. No matter how good an idea is, there is a significant cash outlay at the start that can’t be dealt with without money in the bank. But how can a business – especially a new one that may be little more than a great idea – gain the funding they need?
With names like the Canada Small Business Financing Program, UBC’s list of funding and financing options and the Angel Forum there’s no doubt there is funding available for new businesses in Canada. There are many types of funding available through the Canadian government, provincial or territorial governments, private investment firms and even angel investors who are looking to help others create and grow great businesses.
Some of the options are specific to certain types of businesses or sectors while others are based on the entrepreneur. For example, young entrepreneur funding and funding for women in business are often available through specialized programs. If you are a young entrepreneur, a woman, or someone who fits into a group that may be considered a minority, look into funding sources specific to your situation as you may just have an excellent chance of getting the funds you need.
Simply take the time to do some research online and within your own community (a chamber of commerce, small business centre or even the library) to learn about opportunities both local and throughout the country to get your start-up business going.
According to WorkBC, the Lower Mainland of BC (where Vancouver is located) has the highest population of working-age individuals (age 15 to 64) of any other region in the province of BC. The majority of jobs in the region are in the sectors of finance, insurance, real estate and leasing and professional, scientific and technical services. The service sector has a heavy concentration of Lower Mainland employees. While unemployment in the region is generally below the provincial rate, this is actually an opportunity for start-up businesses because the Lower Mainland has a fluid, mobile workforce that is constantly growing due to others coming into the region based on the positive work opportunities. Additionally, the competition for labour isn’t nearly as high as it is in large American cities or other regions facing serious labour shortages in dominant start-up sectors like technology.
Additionally, the labour force in Canada is filled with well-educated professionals due to the high quality of educational opportunities through numerous internationally-recognized post-secondary institutions.
Open Post-Secondary Programs
The research being conducted through universities like UBC and SFU is among the best in the world. For example, UBC recently became the home of the brand new Food and Beverage Innovation Centre where students will be working with regional food processing businesses to establish new and innovative solutions to food and beverage challenges. This includes packaging, new ingredients and new forms of existing foods to allow for increased shelf life.
Canadian universities are home to many programs like those being created by the Food and Beverage Innovation Centre where the collaboration of business and education is welcomed and everyone benefits. This is a huge opportunity for start-up businesses looking for a partner to help establish unique and better ways to do things.
Home of Entrepreneurs
Canada has programs to encourage entrepreneurs to immigrate to the country and establish their own start-up business. When opportunities like the country’s Start-Up Visa exist, it’s obvious that Canada is looking for new businesses to help grow and fuel the economy.
Swiss website StartUpBlink notes that in 2019 Canada was among the top three countries in the world for entrepreneurship, only ranking behind the United States and the United Kingdom for what the site calls start-up ecosystem strength.
Every entrepreneur faces risk with their business start-up, but despite these challenges, small and medium-sized businesses continue to outperform the growth rate of the Canadian economy. In fact, these SME businesses make up nearly all of the firms in Canada (97.9 percent), and therefore proportionally play a large role in job creation. Employees in Canada are familiar with jobs in the SME business sector.
According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, in terms of employment, the highest concentrations of high growth firms between 2011 and 2013 were in construction (5.5 percent); administrative and support services (5.5 percent); and transportation and warehousing (5.0 percent). Additionally, in 2014, the highest percentages of small and medium-sized enterprises that innovated were found in sectors defined as manufacturing, wholesale trade and professional, scientific and technical services. The province of BC, in particular, has a solid and growing small business community that had 176,014 small businesses as of December 2015.
Canada may not exactly be a mecca for start-up companies, but it is certainly a country dedicated to encouraging new business growth through a wide range of programs generated by governmental and private sources. Those looking to start a business will do well to look into the numerous resources available from financing to entrepreneurial programs and post-secondary school research.