There is a popular misconception among entrepreneurs about Canadians not being entrepreneurial, which is odd, given the source. But I get it. It sometimes feels like every other headline these days mention successful exits and IPOs by startups from Silicon Valley. Maybe its our collective national sense of “fairness” that makes us feel like we’re not getting our fair share of successes at home, or, like watching American sitcoms, we’re on the outside looking in.
But I think we ought not be so envious of our American neighbours (that’s right, “neighbour” includes a “u”), or their success. We’re a country brimming with entrepreneurs. We have the passion and hard work that befits a country that is frozen half the year. We play on the entrepreneurial world stage in forestry, fisheries, oil & gas and other natural resources. We’re top of the heap in shipbuilding, and hold our own in manufacturing. We’ve got the world’s best artists (musicians, painters, actors), and make some pretty substantial contributions in the sciences.
But, like much of our tech startup entrepreneurs, we just export a lot of it and don’t blow our horn quite as loudly as our southern neighbours.
That being said, we can do more to promote entrepreneurship in Canada, and here’s where I’d start:
1. Get government out of the drivers seat
Government grants and financing is tied too closely to Canadian entrepreneurs’ bottom line. It means it takes a Canadian startup 7 years to fail. We need the government to stop funding Canadian failures. We need them to stop providing incentives and direct investment, and instead offer tax breaks to people who who start business, invest in businesses, and the public at large.
2. Look in our backyard first
Given two businesses – one in the US and one in Canada of roughly the sam
e size, revenue, industry, and growth stage – we look to the American one as the more successful. This inferiority complex is harmful and fuels a myth that will prove true if we keep doing it. We have world-class people and companies here at home.
3. Share more stuff
Here Silicon Valley is in a league of their own. We don’t spend enough time networking locally (or nationally if that’s possible) and helping each other succeed. There’s a pervasive sense that one entrepreneur’s success is somehow reduces the success of others. In fact, I believe that a rising tide floats all ships and would prefer to be surrounded by success than to stand above those around me.
4. Bake entrepreneurism into the education system
Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be taught in school. Students should be encouraged to be entrepreneurial while in school. This is true for all creative endeavours. They shouldn’t start after school ends (and our parochial, industrial-era school system needs major fixing… but I digress…).
5. Keep the course
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we are a country of great entrepreneurs. By keeping the dialog open, but thinking about how to encourage more entrepreneurism, and promoting and supporting great initiatives like Startup Canada will only make us better, more aware of our success, and help each other build a stronger creative culture.
By Scott Annan
Working on StartupPlays.com – hustling to engage the best entrepreneurs in the world to help your startup succeed!
Ottawa, Canada · http://www.mercurygrove.com/blog