Every Canadian small business owner is challenged to access sufficient capital at one point or another.
Smaller and younger businesses have a tougher time of it than larger and more established concerns, and some estimates put the number of those that are actually able to secure needed funds at below 50 percent.
What many may not realize is that there’s a wealth of financing possibilities available through the government that are specifically geared to meet the particular needs of small businesses. Furthermore, the odds don’t have to be against winning the kinds of grants that will propel growth and ultimate success.
The challenge is to first figure out how to navigate the government grant territory, then thinking strategically about your business and its potential impacts on the market and making sure you’ve developed a sound case for your ability to meet long-term objectives.
Here are some considerations to guide you:
Do your research.
We have grants for innovators. We have grants for train workers. Others are focused on particular places and people. And of course, there are grants to small businesses in specific industries. Take a deep dive into the possibilities, identify the likeliest prospects, and see what, specifically, is required in grant applications. Some may be more ambitious than you can realistically handle. Two good places to start are with the Canada Business Network and with the Ontario Provincial Government. And check in early and often – it’s a dynamic landscape of possibilities.
See who’s getting funding and if there are programs in the “low hanging fruit” category.
Your chances of getting grants are exponentially greater if you are in certain “hot” business areas, like exporting, alternative energy, environmental improvements.
Also, consider tax credits: The SR&ED Tax Credit Program doesn’t require a complicated proposal and long wait for approval. Just design and do your project, and follow the rules in filing your tax claim. (Your accountant and financial advisor should help.) Above all, don’t limit yourself to one application for one grant if more than one will do you.
Make your case.
It’s not just a matter of having a business plan. It’s a matter of convincingly laying out your objectives today and five years out – and what it will take to meet them. Align your objectives with community impact, like job creation. That long-term strategy will help win more substantial funding. And don’t forget to underscore the difference the funding will make in your success over the long haul.
Develop mentors in the academic community. Cultivate collaborative partnerships in the larger business community. Such such alliances will not only assist you as you navigate the pitfalls of owning and running a growing business, but they may bolster your chances for larger grants that pair large corporate applicants with small ones like you.
Each year, the Canadian government provides more than $14 billion to Canadian businesses – many of small and growing ones like yours. If you’re going to get in line, positioning yourself effectively will be the key to your long term success.