As of 2017, British Columbia has the fastest-growing gross domestic product of any province in Canada. With a growth rate of 2.9%, the province even outpaces federal growth. Some of the growth can be attributed to higher-than-expected personal incomes in 2015, but the provincial government’s fiscal responsibility, economic diversification, and debt reduction also play a key role. Multiple programs support BC’s economic success and small businesses in particular.
The Ministry of Finance
The Ministry of Finance creates and implements the province’s financial management and taxation policies. Of course, the ministry also reviews current tactics to see what’s working and make changes as needed. For instance, the Ministry of Finance oversees the budget, but it also creates taxpayer accountability principles outlining the public sector’s responsibility to taxpayers through initiatives that deal with everything from executive compensation to gaming policies.
The Ministry of Small Business
The Ministry of Small Business has programs to help entrepreneurs in British Columbia open their businesses and get ahead. The Small Business Roundtable, one project of this ministry, consists of small business leaders from around the province. These individuals get together on a regular basis to talk about the issues that entrepreneurs and small business owners face in British Columbia, and these discussions help guide the ministry’s direction.
Red Tape Reduction
This program is designed to make dealing with the government easier for individuals and small businesses, and it welcomes ideas from taxpayers. As of 2017, residents have submitted over 500 ideas to the government. If you have an idea, you can post it on BC’s Help Cut Red Tape website, or you can tweet the idea with the hashtag #CutRedTape.
Small Business Accord
The BC Small Business Accord is a living, changing document that outlines ways BC government can support small businesses. In 2012, the government reached out to residents over Twitter. Over 35,000 people shared ideas, and those ideas ultimately formed the first draft of the Small Business Accord. The government alongside of small business leaders continues to update this document, and it shapes government policies and procedures. The accord underscores the importance of a government that works with small business, demands an accessible regulatory environment, and explores the need for education and training programs that promise to meet the needs of small businesses in the future.
Mobile Business Licences
A Mobile Business Licence or inter-community licence allows you to conduct business in more than one participating area of the province. This program appeals to mobile businesses such as food trucks as well as to contractors, plumbers, and anyone else who needs to run their business in more than one jurisdiction. Essentially, you apply for a business licence in one of the participating areas, and you can do business in all other areas. In British Columbia, there are 14 areas with agreements, and there are an additional 12 participating areas in the Central Vancouver Island Region.
Small Business Resources
The government offers a range of additional resources for small businesses in British Columbia. If you want the basics, you can download a free guide on how to start a business as well as guides on exporting or importing. The government also maintains a resource of links and information on all kinds of federal and provincial programs including grants, information about permits and licences, and mentorship programs. There is an additional resource for Aboriginal business owners, which includes resources exclusively available to entrepreneurs in these communities. The BC government’s website even has step by step instructions on how to open a restaurant and how to plan a business walk to introduce local government officials or the chamber of commerce to business owners in your community.
If you’re starting a business in British Columbia, or if you just want to be an entrepreneur in the future, you may also want to check out the following programs:
- Bizpal This web portal helps you find out which licences and permits you need to start a business in your area. The simple-to-use online tool prompts you for your city or municipality, then it allows you to search for keywords such as “food truck,” “restaurant,” “welding”, and so on.
- MentorshipBC: Mentors help guide aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners to greater levels of success. This program helps BC residents find mentors. You can search by location; to access special programs, you can tailor search results based on your gender or immigration status.
- Futurpreneur: Designed for young entrepreneurs, this resource helps with the logistics of starting a business. It also offers networking opportunities, and if you’re experienced, you can sign up to mentor a future entrepreneur.
British Columbia is experiencing exciting economic growth. To allow small businesses to be a part of that growth, the government tries to make running a business as easy as possible. As you grow your business, you may want to dive into some of these resources and keep tabs on what various ministries are doing to fight for you.