Startup Canada’s ‘Day on the Hill’ brings focus to entrepreneurs

Economist Tim Kane may have been referring to the American experience when he made this statement in 2010, but the sentiment is every bit as relevant to Canada.

According to Industry Canada, about 78 per cent of all private-sector job creation between 2002 and 2012 came courtesy of small businesses. About 98 per cent of employer businesses in Canada are small businesses.

Our small businesses are also active on the global stage, accounting for more than 80 per cent of our nation’s exporters.

So does it not behoove our educational institutions, our communities and policy makers at every level to work together and apply their full energies to support the creation and growth of new businesses?

On Nov. 21, Startup Canada is hosting a first-of-its-kind event in Ottawa to drive this agenda.

Startup Canada Day on the Hill is mustering the largest contingent of entrepreneurs ever to meet with government leaders on Parliament Hill. The goal is have a focused and frank discussion on how entrepreneurs and government can work hand-in-hand to strengthen Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and accelerate the success of Canadian entrepreneurs.

We are confident we will have the federal government’s attention. Many senior politicians have already expressed their support for the event. The Harper government has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to economic growth and job creation, and lauded Canada for leading the G7 in job creation.

But we need more. We need to build on this foundation to create new employers, exporters and industry leaders.

We live in a world of increasing globalization, where the power of the Internet is creating new opportunities for billions of people, including those who were once considered disadvantaged and “third world.”

In Canada, our relatively small population and continued reliance on a resource economy threaten to leave us disadvantaged in this new world order. And then there are of course the challenges faced by any new venture in any market. About 85 per cent of new businesses survive one full year, 70 per cent survive for two years and only 51 per cent survive for five years.

In its State of Entrepreneurship in Canada report, Industry Canada acknowledged how “young firms face uncertain markets, unproven technology, and uneven organizational processes. The fate of entrepreneurial firms is at least partially determined by characteristics of the business environment, such as access to finance, access to international agreements and consumer spending power, that individual entrepreneurs have little control over.”

Helping new businesses master these challenges requires a concerted, national effort. Without a national strategy involving a government partnership, Canada will not realize its entrepreneurial potential and reap the benefits of jobs, wealth and export growth.

It’s widely acknowledged that high-growth ventures thrive in entrepreneurial ecosystems that are strong, connected, streamlined, and where there is a culture that understands, supports and celebrates entrepreneurial ambition. In two short years, Startup Canada has grown into the mechanism to help governments, communities and other stakeholders collaborate to deliver the supportive ecosystem that will accelerate entrepreneurial success in Canada.

We have built a national network of hyper-connected startup communities, sped access to the support services for entrepreneurs, and initiated high-impact, national campaigns to fuel a culture of entrepreneurship. Startup Canada is one of the most followed, active and high-impact entrepreneurship organizations in Canada, representing more than 55,000 entrepreneurs, over 400 partner organizations, and over 250 volunteers.

Why is this important?

Startup Canada has collected data and undertaken the grassroots research necessary to better understand entrepreneurs and startup trends. This intelligence is crucial to effectively expand the reach, relevance and responsiveness of government programs. For our federal leaders to continue driving economic growth and job creation, they must partner with organizations such as Startup Canada that are active in the trenches alongside our entrepreneurs.

Canadians must work together to take advantage of new opportunities in new markets, by growing more globally competitive companies that are bringing disruptive new products and services to market. So join us on the Hill on Nov. 21 to kick-start this important discussion with our government leaders.

Remember, entrepreneurship empowers everyone.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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