With Canada’s federal budget tabled on March 30, entrepreneurs and analysts were dissecting its impact for the small business owner well into April.
With a focus on innovation, the budget includes $1.1 billion over five years for business-led research and development. The government has also committed $400 million to increase investments in early stage companies. By investing in entrepreneurs directly, as opposed to government agencies, Canadian businesses may see new opportunities to pursue their business plans.
“I'm curious to see how the program will be managed, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it will help enable start-up companies such as ourselves to gain access to capital, which is in much shorter supply in Canada versus the United States,” said Matthew Protti, CEO of Calgary technology startup BlackSquare Inc.
The hiring credit offered to small businesses will also be extended for another year. This can help small businesses expand, while contributing to economic recovery in Canada by creating jobs.
Also announced as part of the budget, the penny will be discontinued come fall, meaning prices for products and services will be rounded to the nearest nickel. As manufacturing a penny costs almost two cents, the cut is intended to save money overall (a move W. Brett Wilson for one fully supports).
Some small business owners, however, are now wondering what additional costs they will have to deal with, in order to accommodate the change. It could cost in the thousands to reprogram computers and cash registers, for example. Menus and signs with prices on them will also have to be updated, leading to additional costs.
Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Mint is in the research and development phase of developing a digital currency that will let people pay using their smartphones and other technologies.
Attracting innovative entrepreneurs
Immigration Minister Jason Kenny announced public consultations to work toward a new ‘startup visa’ program, which would attract immigrant entrepreneurs with innovative business plans to Canada. The goal is to draw entrepreneurs in sectors such as technology, energy and resources, who can bring unique expertise to Canada and help the country build up its reputation.
Venture capitalist and CBC personality Kevin O’Leary, who was on-hand for the announcement, applauded the development.
“This is a huge opportunity for us because every entrepreneur who starts a business in Canada has to think global,” he said. “We can’t depend on the North American market. Every strategy we build our business on has to be one servicing world economies.”
On a lighter note, entrepreneurs of all ages can find a little inspiration in the story of Caine’s Arcade. Nine-year-old Caine is a boy from East Los Angeles, Calif., who put his heart into making an arcade out of cardboard boxes from his dad’s used auto parts shop. When business proved particularly slow for Caine, a social media campaign helped deliver the boy a surprise boom in business.
Chris Mejaski is a Toronto-based writer and digital communications professional, with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University and an M.A. in Communication and Culture from Ryerson and York universities.