We may be separated by a coast-to-coast border, but small businesses in the U.S. face many of the same issues as their compadres in Canada, a new survey shows. And regardless of which side of the border they’re on, they play an equally vital role in their nation’s economy.
“Through their hard work, dedication and vision, small businesses owners are generating the jobs and economic growth that are making Canada a competitive and modern economy Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement kicking off that nation’s 30th annual Small Business Week.
“They are helping to ensure our economy emerges from the global economic recession stronger than ever,” he said. “Small businesses are, in fact, the backbone of the Canadian economy, accounting for 98 percent of all businesses in Canada.”
Although small businesses in Canada place a premium on innovation, the survey conducted by the pollsters at Angus Reid showed that four out of ten of them perceive their competitive advantage is in customer service. While they consider innovation to be important, only 12 percent think it is the source of their competitive advantage.
When asked if innovation is priority for their company, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said it was, but most of admitted that they didn’t have a formal innovation strategy and tend to use a seat-of-the-pants approach to innovation. A majority (69 percent) claimed they tend to keep their “ears to the ground” and funnel ideas generated by people around them.
Less than one in ten (9 percent) of small businesses in Canada has a formal innovation strategy and structure in their business, the survey found. And one in ten (10 percent) said they do not innovate at all.
To stimulate business innovation , the Canadian government has launched a new program in southern Ontario designed to make growth easier by providing access to greater investments.
The $190 million (Canadian) four-year Investing Business program will allow startup businesses of 50 employees or less to apply for up to $1 million in repayable funds, encourage greater collaboration between entrepreneurs and investors, boost private sector investment in startup businesses and help accelerate the research and development of new products and ideas and bring them to the marketplace.
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