Ottawa business leader Douglas McLarty to speak & mentor startups at Startup Canada Day on the Hill
A true entrepreneur in his own right, Douglas McLarty serves a wide range of clients from self-employed professionals to large family-owned businesses. He specializes in taking an integrated, comprehensive approach to his clients’ businesses and their personal financial affairs. Doug is well known with Ottawa business people not only as the managing director of an innovative public accounting company but also as someone who is active in politics and the community.
Doug has served the Ottawa community and his professional association for over thirty years. His community activities have ranged from co-founding the Ottawa Business Network in the 1980’s to becoming Chair of the Riverside Hospital in the late 90’s. In 2000, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) recognized Doug’s contribution to the community and his profession by awarding him Fellowship status in his profession. Currently, Doug volunteers with the ICAO, in communications and lobbying capacities, and on the Board of Directors at Ottawa Hydro and ICAO.
MNP LLP (formerly McLarty & Company) supports Startup Canada’s annual audits and will be supporting hundreds of entrepreneurs at the Startup Canada Day on the Hill, on November 26th, in Ottawa – a collaboration of Canada’s entrepreneurship community. We had the opportunity to speak with Douglas in the lead up to his keynote speech and mentorship during the full-day program.
SC: What is the biggest challenge that Canada faces in growing an entrepreneurial economy?
DM: Financing new and growing businesses. The 2008-9 financial crisis resulted in traditional financial systems becoming overly focused on reducing risk. But entrepreneurism is all about taking risks. Entrepreneurial culture needs fostering to reduce the likelihood of slow to no economic growth continuing. The risk capital system in Canada is also challenging (except where the focus is on natural resources). Risk capital from venture capitalists and angels is much less readily available compared to the USA. Crowdfunding may become overly regulated too. In reality, it is mostly government capital that is available to entrepreneurs. In short, financing a new business is harder than it was before 2008, and it was not easy then.
SC: What top three recommendations do you have for encouraging entrepreneurship in Ottawa and Canada?
DM: (1) We need to create incentives that reward entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneurial success = what is good for society = creating jobs. The tax system should reward job growth. (2) There should be more focus on supporting early stages of company development. (3) We need greater government support of mid-sized companies through supportive labour systems, such as apprenticeship programs that recognize and support clusters of medium-sized, export-oriented companies (similar to what is provided in Germany).
SC: Why did you become involved with entrepreneurship in Ottawa and with Startup Canada?
DM: I realized that entrepreneurship needs to be fostered and supported in a more formal and proactive fashion for the good of the people of Ottawa and the country. Startup Canada is in a good position to help make this happen.
SC: What do you hope will be achieved through the 2014 Startup Canada Day on the Hill?
DM: Firstly, I would like to see a narrowing of the culture gap between folks on the Hill and startups. One culture is about rules, regulations, guidelines, risk management, political risk mitigation. Startups resist rules, break rules. This event can help bridge the culture gap through increased understanding of each other’s cultures. Secondly, I would like to see this platform foster greater understanding on the Hill of the daunting challenges startups face when they decide to turn away from security and leap into the unknown.
SC: What is your vision for the future of entrepreneurship in Ottawa and Canada?
DM: We need to set a goal and then encourage various ways of achieving it. When I discussed Startup Canada with Richard Remillard, the former Executive Director of the Canadian Venture Capital Association, he suggested this one:
- Let’s double the rate of new company formation over the next 10 years.
- Let’s talk about how to make it happen.
- Let’s celebrate various stages of success and individual success stories.
- Let’s increase recognition of how important startups and entrepreneurs are to the Canadian economy.
- Let’s expect government, financial and society’s support for startups’ endeavours.
There’s a good example in Alberta where that provincial and federal governments are funding a private company (which happens to be MNP) to provide a self-employment program. This program helps unemployed people start businesses by providing management, marketing, bookkeeping and HR training, and by helping to write business plans. I’m looking forward to hearing about this program stats and success stories.
SC: What message would you like to share in the lead up to Day on the Hill 2014?
DM: Entrepreneurship is critically important to the growth of the Canadian economy. We need to engage governments at all levels to recognize it through supportive changes to the tax system, financing system, education and regulatory environment. Much of this can be accomplished with private sector consultation and/or partnerships. All of these changes should be focused on making it easier to start companies, grow them and reward the people who take the risks to make it happen.
If you’re interested in volunteering or accessing the Mentorship clinic with Douglas McLarty visit visit www.startupday.ca
For more information about MNP visit http://www.mnp.ca/