Last fall, BDC, the Canadian bank that caters exclusively to entrepreneurs, celebrated the 75th anniversary of its founding by releasing the results of a new study detailing the state of business ownership across the nation. The news was very good indeed.
The study reported a number of interesting facts. During the previous year, 2018, 47,000 Canadians launched new companies, an all-time annual high. Also, an increasing number of women, new residents, younger people, and baby boomers are leading many of them.
“Entrepreneurship,” says the bank’s president and CEO, Michael Denham, “is back on the rise.” He added that, “Canadian entrepreneurship is vital to Canada’s prosperity; it is changing positively.”
That sentiment is echoed by Paul Attfield in The Globe and Mail, who wrote that, “Canada is a country of small to medium-sized businesses: 98.2 percent of companies have fewer than 100 employees, and they contribute more than half of Canada’s gross domestic product, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada.”
By nearly all accounts, Canada is a great place to start a company. The economy is doing well. It’s a wonderful place to live. In Toronto, residential real estate prices are increasing as a continuing influx of new residents relocate there, some to set up shop.
In Winnipeg, entrepreneur Kris Thorkelson, owner of My Place Realty and his team are busy matching quality homes with discerning tenants. Concurrently running pharmacies in the area, Thorkelson also added real estate leader to his resume and is happy to be providing quality multi-family residences that people can be proud to call home.
On running more than one business in his hometown of Winnipeg, Kris Thorkelson says, “As a citizen, I wanted to focus my efforts on the community I love. That’s what My Place Realty’s vision is all about. I was also attracted to the industry for its hands-on approach to serving clients.”
Meanwhile, for the past several years a Vancouver company has been changing the way people buy cars. While working in his previous job at an auto dealership, Cody Green discovered that some potential car buyers were ineligible for financing. “For the customers who didn’t have perfect credit, that process was backwards and broken,” says Green. So he responded by creating Canada Drives, which helps solve that problem by helping Canadians get auto loans regardless of their credit history.
These are just two of many success stories that have emerged in recent years. But the verdict is clear: if you want to start a company, consider Canada.
As in many countries, there are certain Canadian areas that are strong places for people to start companies. One of them is the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor, which some refer to as the Silicon Valley of the North. The numbers are impressive. As of the end of 2019 there were 15,000 tech companies, 200,000 tech employees and 5,200 startups in the region.
“With lower operating costs and lower costs of living, this could be an amazing alternative to the expensive tech hubs of the United States, giving you access to a popular and growing community,” writes Anna Johansson.
Finally, one reason many entrepreneurs cite an important to their companies’ growth and development is the fact that Canada is very immigrant friendly, attracting professionals from around the world who bring a wide range of skills and expertise. That, plus the wide variety of industries and amenities, are what help the city of Toronto thrive.
“It’s a finance center and a media center,” says Allen Lau, co-founder and CEO of Wattpad, an online publishing platform based in Toronto rather than Silicon Valley. “In the Valley” says Lau, “Facebook and Google pay $10 million a year, and I would mostly have access to C and D players. That’s why we chose not to open an office there.”