Canada‚Äôs small businesses need to be part of the country‚Äôs innovation conversation, a recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Beyond the Big Idea: Redefining and rethinking the innovation agenda, shows.
The study found more than 80 per cent of small businesses report having been innovative in their business in the past five years. ‚ÄúThere are lots of definitions of innovation and many ways to innovate,‚ÄĚ said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB‚Äôs senior vice-president of national affairs and partnerships, in a statement.
‚ÄúWe want to make sure that public policies will be based on an inclusive approach that takes into account all sorts of activities. We have to keep in mind that big changes in our society were often preceded by small ideas.‚ÄĚ
Creating an environment that encourages innovation shouldn‚Äôt necessarily mean that government has to create costly new financing grants or programs, she noted. ‚ÄúInstead, small business owners consider that it could be more effective for governments to address barriers to innovation such as skilled labour shortages, red tape and lower taxes to drive more innovation in Canada.‚ÄĚ
Key recommendations include applying an ‚Äúinnovation lens‚ÄĚ to new regulations and legislation, including reinstating the small business corporate tax reduction plan and easing. This will help small businesses hire more people, pay higher wages and be more productive contributors to Canada‚Äôs economic growth, Pohlmann said.
CFIB encourages the introduction of an innovation deduction that would allow businesses to claim up to $100,000 a year for new equipment and technology ‚ÄĒ an initiative that was recently introduced in the United States.
Another challenge many small business owners face is that they are unaware of current government programs and tax credits to support innovation. More than half of the owners surveyed were ‚Äúnot very‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúnot at all‚ÄĚ aware of programs such as the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), and the Networks of Centres of Excellence.
Canada ranked as world‚Äôs fourth largest cyber security hub based on VC deals, but we can be more dominant in this: Deloitte
Canada ranks as the fourth largest innovation hub in the world for cyber security, behind Britain, the U.S. and Israel, a Deloitte report, Harnessing the Cybersecurity Opportunity for Growth, found. The ranking is based on venture capital deals in the cyber security sector.
A key takeaway of the report commissioned by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), is that Ontario in particular has the potential to assume a more dominant leadership role in cyber security, given its current strengths in financial services and technology, if it takes immediate steps to seize the opportunity.
‚ÄúThe report strongly reinforces our view that the strength of both our financial services industry and the province‚Äôs innovation ecosystem present a major opportunity for economic growth and global leadership in cyber security,‚ÄĚ said Tom Corr, president and CEO at Ontario Centres of Excellence.
He points to three important regions that provide a strong base upon which to build. ‚ÄúWe have Toronto which is the second largest financial institute centre in North America, (behind New York), and a strong centre for fintech; Ottawa, where there is significant government activity in cyber security; and the Waterloo region, with its great startup ecosystem and leading edge research work in quantum computing and cyber security.‚ÄĚ
Corr estimates there are 90 companies in Ontario in the cyber security space, a majority of which are small to mid-sized business and startups.
‚ÄúWe have already established significant clusters of cyber security innovation; and we have really smart people and technology that can propel this sector forward. What‚Äôs needed now is the co-ordination and focused support that will take this to a new level of global competitiveness.‚ÄĚ
A majority of private business owners are woefully unprepared for retirement
Private business owners will have to step up their game if they want to enjoy a comfortable retirement.
A recent report from BMO Wealth Management shows 72 per cent of private business owners surveyed have saved less than $100,000 for their retirement. About one-third have not considered which exit option they could use to fund shortfalls in their retirement savings. It also noted that withdrawing at a rate of $50,000 can cause a $500,000 pool of retirement savings to disappear in 12 years.
Private business owners‚Äô exit options include: selling to buyers outside the family; transferring the business to a family member at no cost; closing or winding down; or selling to family members. However, one-third said they do not know what exit option to consider.
The full report ‚ÄĒ As a business owner, do you have a retirement contingency plan? ‚ÄĒ which includes retirement planning advice, is available here
¬†If your website isn‚Äôt mobile friendly, you‚Äôre likely losing business
There‚Äôs no question that mobile is becoming the online access resource of choice, whether it‚Äôs seeking directions, researching a business or shopping, data from Google shows.¬†
The internet giant notes that upward of 60 per cent of all searches start on a mobile device ‚ÄĒ even if a laptop/desktop is available. This represents a big change in consumer behaviour, said Scott Wilson, founder and CEO of RankHigher.ca, a Burlington, Ont.-based digital marketing, and SEO firm. It also means businesses should take a good look at whether their website is mobile friendly ‚ÄĒ or not.
It‚Äôs not just about aesthetics. Having a mobile friendly website is essential to search engine success. If your website is not mobile friendly, you will not be able to rank near the top of a Google search for any competitive keywords, Wilson said.
Here‚Äôs why that matters: A September 2016 Google report, How to get Canadian Consumers to Choose You: Meet Them in Their Micro-Moments, notes that one in two Canadians who conducted research on their smartphone purchased a brand they wouldn‚Äôt normally because of relevant information in the moment. Up to 88 per cent of Canadians have discovered new products or brands online.
And when Canadian smartphone users need to buy something, 40 per cent will take action right away on their smartphones.
So how can you be sure your website will do the best job of helping consumers find you? The first and most important step is to test the mobile-friendliness of your site, Wilson advises. Google has a Mobile-Friendly Test tool that will go through your site page by page to see which ones pass. Once you discover areas of low scores, work with someone to find out how to up your score.
‚ÄúIf you ignore your mobile-friendliness, you will be missing potential customers,‚ÄĚ Wilson said. ‚ÄúAll small businesses have to pay attention to this.‚ÄĚ
First published at http://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/small-business-digest/grants-arent-necessarily-the-way-to-stimulate-innovation-small-businesses-say