Department – Capital Context – Ottawa Entrepreneurs get a boost before lift-off
By Alje Kamminga
IN YEARS TO come, we may well look back on 2017-18 and 19 as the golden age of entrepreneurship in Canada, particularly in Ottawa. Entrepreneurial spirit and startup activity are on the rise. Lenders are clearly eager to finance emerging businesses. More people—particularly the millennial generation—have decided they’d rather make a better world than better money. And more and more, that means starting their own business.
One thing is certain: no matter their motive, if you’re a budding entrepreneur, you could not have chosen a better time to pursue your dream. To begin with, the cost of starting most businesses has dropped dramatically in recent years. One example: creating a web site for your new business today costs a fraction what it did even a decade ago.
Your market has not only expanded, it has consolidated. Essentially, the world is now a single market. As an entrepreneur, that enables you to start locally but think globally. Social media is your friend and ally. Thanks to social media, you can tune your product, build your brand, and grow your business—all at a remarkably low cost.
If now is an ideal time for entrepreneurs, it appears that Ontario—and specifically Ottawa—is the ideal location. While Canada as a whole is recognized as an innovation-driven nation, Ontario is frequently singled out as one of the top provinces in which to start a business. And the City of Ottawa offers much of what entrepreneurs are looking for—and need—to succeed.
In Ottawa and the National Capital Region, entrepreneurs have ready access to various government programs such as small-business assistance, assistance for minorities and women, and environmental grants. And a lot of that help is available from all three levels of government.
For example, Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for Canada’s Capital, leverages critical support from the City of Ottawa, Ontario and industry partners to support the growth and commercial success of entrepreneurs through every stage of the process, from first idea to first sale. Since 2012, it has helped to facilitate the creation of more than 6,350 jobs and worked with thousands of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Invest Ottawa offers early-stage entrepreneurship programs and services help to address many, if not all, of the questions an aspiring entrepreneur is likely to ask. In fact, more than 26,080 local small business owners have benefitted from complimentary training seminars delivered through Invest Ottawa over the last five years. These hands-on sessions address every facet of starting and managing a business – from understanding the legal and tax implications of operating as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation to knowing which permits you’ll need. Advice is available on researching the market, watching for trends and identifying your competitors. You’ll also learn about cash flow and how to manage it.
If your business is already up and running, Invest Ottawa can enable and accelerate your growth strategy. It offers access to seasoned pros—mentors, serial entrepreneurs, and investors— who know what it takes to get a business sailing smoothly. These experts share their knowledge of market insight and intelligence, strategies to refine product or service and the most effective way to network and make valuable connections.
The organization also recently announced the first roster of companies that will participate in its new business acceleration program. This rigorous, milestone-based program is designed to rapidly and systematically accelerate the development and commercial success of qualified high growth tech firms. These companies span global markets and disruptive technologies such as cybersecurity, AV, AI and machine learning, AR/VR, Blockchain, Next Generation Networks, and the Internet of Things.
Taking it Global
Ontario Network of Excellence
For many entrepreneurs, a lack of financial resources is often the difference between success and failure. Many of these dreamers are finding the funding they need—along with a healthy dose of expert advice—from the Government of Canada. The federal government values entrepreneurship so much, it has created Innovation Canada, a one-stop-shop for Canada’s innovators and entrepreneurs.
The Innovation Canada website matches entrepreneurs with the programs and services that best meet their needs. The website, part of the federal government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, is designed to position Canada as an innovation leader.
For entrepreneurs, the path to success can be a perilous one. In many cases, finding the right government programs can mean the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, thanks to Ottawa, the Ontario provincial government and the federal government, the services and programs they need are readily available. For more information visit innovation.canada.ca.