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Canadian Entrepreneurs Empowering Communities

There are about as many types of entrepreneurs as there are types of communities—and goals within each and every one of those aforementioned communities.  Canadian entrepreneurs, however, are showing they have the power and foresight to build and shape these communities.

A successful community, like a successful entrepreneur, doesn’t simply happen by accident.  It takes hard work, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills—but perhaps the most important step: do your homework.

Whether your community be Indigenous, Women, Artistic, LGBTQ, BIPOC, Business, Financial, Legal, Marketing, Medical, Urban, Suburban, Rural, Foodie—or any combination of the above—the key component remains the same: do your due diligence.

Like most things, building a successful business and having your dreams come to fruition takes time.  

With a strong economy and supportive government policies, Canada has become a hotspot for entrepreneurs.  It makes perfect sense that so many people are choosing Canada as the place to start their business.  Canadian entrepreneurs have made significant contributions to boosting the country’s economic growth through innovative products, services, and technologies.  About 97 percent of businesses in Canada are small-medium companies with up to 500 employees.  These organizations are the backbone of Canada’s socioeconomic growth and development.

Climb Every Mountain

At the risk of sounding like some motivational poster, don’t look at obstacles (because they are sure to rear their inevitable heads) as roadblocks—look at them as challenges to be met and overcome.

Strategic insights from the 2022 Startup Canada Census – a national census distributed by Startup Canada’s network of 130,000 entrepreneurs and key stakeholders – provides a snapshot of key characteristics and trends within the Canadian entrepreneurship community.

Startup Canada supports and connects grassroots networks to fuel a culture and environment for entrepreneurship at the local and industry level by:

  • Providing entrepreneurs with opportunities to connect with support, mentors, resources, and financing
  • Rallying local entrepreneurship organizations to foster collaboration, information sharing, and opportunities
  • Connecting with the national Startup Canada network to provide new partners, opportunities, and initiatives to local entrepreneurs and to grow exposure across Canada and around the world

Key points from the survey included:

  • The average respondent indicated that it took them over 530 hours to research and learn about different components of their business
  • Nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated that accessing government grants was their top-specific challenge
  • Nearly 68 percent indicated: finding funding was an obstacle for their business
  • Outside of funding, the top challenges noted by respondents were marketing (nearly 48 percent) and sales (nearly percent)

Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada, wrote in their 2022 Census: “Startup Canada celebrated its 10-year anniversary of supporting entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast.  A large aspect of this work is continuously monitoring and facilitating research on behalf of Canada’s 1.2 million startups and small businesses.”

…Make Lemonade

At the height of the pandemic, these Canadian entrepreneurs quickly pivoted their respective businesses to produce items that greatly helped a sudden and unexpected need

  • Audra Renyi, co-founder of Canmasq, helped create a transparent face mask, which allowed people with hearing disabilities to see facial expressions and to read lips
  • Azadeh Dastmalchi, co-founder of VitalTracer, helped launch a medical-grade smartwatch that was not only capable of continuous measuring of all vital signs, it could also provide cardiac monitoring—which served as an early-stage COVID-19 prediction solution 
  • Amid growing mental health concerns, platforms such as Snapclarity Health pivoted to provide specialized COVID-19 mental health resources to the entrepreneurial community

Thanks to these quick-pivoting, and even quicker-thinking/seeing individuals, we were able to weather the seemingly endless waves that the pandemic’s storm deluged us with.

Empower by GoDaddy—whose slogan is: “Equipping entrepreneurs, fulfilling lives”—is GoDaddy’s global community and philanthropic program.  It equips entrepreneurs with training, tools, and peer networks to accelerate their journeys.  To date, GoDaddy has given close to a quarter of a billion dollars to non-profits and CDFIs around the globe.

GoDaddy states: “Together with our non-profit partners, we work to understand local communities and the small business landscape to identify gaps and develop customized, neighbourhood-based programs that meet every entrepreneur where they are on their journey.”

It Takes a Community

When one thinks of Canada, entrepreneurship is not generally the first thought that comes to mind.  However, this country has produced a sizable number of entrepreneurs who have not just managed to hold, but have blossomed—making a name for themselves, not just in Canada, but also abroad.

Just a few of those names include: 

  • Jim Balsillie – entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former co-CEO of Research in Motion
  • Mike Lazaridis – founder of BlackBerry
  • Harrison and Wallace McCain – the brothers who co-founded McCain Foods Limited
  • Samuel Bronfman – founder of Distillers Company Limited

Other notable Canadian entrepreneurs include:

  • Susan Niczowski – founder of the company Summer Fresh, which produces salads and dips
  • Tonia Jahshan – a successful entrepreneur who established the company Steeped Tea
  • Kevin O’Leary – a Canadian entrepreneur and successful businessman, O’Leary launched SoftKey software products (with no money, from his basement), and became a venture capitalist in 1999 when he sold the Learning Company for $4.2 billion; he is also a well-known investor on TV’s Shark Tank

Brass Ring / Build Your Empire

Through entrepreneurship, you can ditch that traditional 9-5 job, be your own boss, AND strengthen your community.

For inspiration, look no further than the Canadian entrepreneurs mentioned above.  Through careful planning and preparation, all of them have soared to lucrative business heights even though they started from humble beginnings.  Sure, taking risks and creating opportunities may not always guarantee immediate success–but both are integral ingredients in the recipe for entrepreneurial success. 

 And, like the man said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Peter Campbell | Contributing Writer

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