Startup Canada in partnership with Intuit Canada is helping entrepreneurs overcome SME challenges, including improving financial literacy.
Canadian entrepreneurship ranks second in the world, and local innovators are responsible for creating many of the country’s employment opportunities. Small businesses now account for more than 70% of Canada’s private sector jobs.
“Entrepreneurs contribute significantly to our GDP and the growth of our economy,” says Victoria Lennox, the co-founder and CEO of Startup Canada, an organization that supports Canada’s entrepreneurial community through its flagship Startup Communities program, and works in partnership with Intuit Canada.
But Lennox says while the number of new businesses entering the marketplace has not increased in the last decade, the manner in which businesses are conceived has changed significantly.
Natural resource businesses were once king, but today’s entrepreneurs are focused on bringing digital tools and technologies to the marketplace.
That’s not the only thing that’s changed – businesses these days are able to scale up faster than ever before, says Lennox.
“You have 18-month-old companies with hundreds of employees and venture backing.”
While there are many success stories, there are those that don’t make it – only 51% of Canadian small businesses live to celebrate their fifth anniversary.
Among the challenges Canadian entrepreneurs face are:
- Access to the Global Marketplace
Canada’s marketplace is small, and as such, going global is the key to long-term success. Unfortunately, says Lennox, while Canada’s brand of good governance bodes well for entrepreneurs, they first have to access the global marketplace.
“Given that multinational headquarters are often not in Canada, it’s hard for Canadians to tap into the global ecosystem,” she says.
“We do have an awesome reputation that we can build on, but our entrepreneurs need to work even harder to access these global supply chains.”
- Barriers to Entrepreneurship
Majority business ownership of SMEs by men is four times higher than it is by women. Encouraging inclusivity in entrepreneurship, including for those who already face barriers to traditional employment – such as newcomers, those with disabilities or indigenous people – will be key to growing Canada’s economy.
“I think we need to promote entrepreneurship as a culture and as a mindset of being innovative and pushing boundaries,” says Lennox.
- Improving Financial Literacy
While companies are able to scale up faster, they may not always have the know-how to manage a larger business, including bookkeeping and accounting.
“Ultimately, financial literacy is one of the linchpins of startup success,” says Lennox.
- Finance Solutions
In partnership with Intuit, Startup Canada launched its Startup Finance Bootcamp in 2015, aimed at improving the accounting and money skills of entrepreneurs. Through this unique financial literacy program, entrepreneurs are connected with tools, technology and knowledge to improve the financial management of their organization. To date, the program has paired 3000 entrepreneurs from across Canada with financial literacy skills training.“As long as we can support entrepreneurs in accessing financial literacy tools, we will increase their propensity to succeed – or to realize the numbers aren’t substantiating their business model, so they need to pivot,” says Lennox.“Ultimately, the numbers will tell you what you need to know,” says Lennox.
Lennox says in order for Canadian startups to be successful, Canada needs to build and foster a culture of entrepreneurship. She believes the Canadian government should be supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship through policy change and financial support.
“Everyone should have an entrepreneurial lens, be innovative and push boundaries,” says Lennox. “It’s helping people build the future and leave a mark.”
More information on Startup Finance Bootcamps is available here.