When it comes to Canadian businesses, small is definitely beautiful. 98% of Canadian businesses are small companies, employing less than 100 people. Firms with four or less employees (micro-enterprises) account for just under 55% of all private employers.

Ontario is home to 33% of all Canadian small and medium sized firms. Most of these were probably founded by those aged 25 to 44 years old, as they have the greatest tendency to start new businesses.

So, if you’re thinking about starting a business in 2019, you’re in great company! What’s more, it’s never too early to start your move from employee to employer – or even student to entrepreneur. The famous faces on Canada’s “Dragon’s Den” have seen more than their fair share of new business ideas. So what is their advice for someone just starting out?

You have to try things and fail at them a little bit in order to get the essence of what it is to be an entrepreneur.

Joe Mimran

You have to start with a great idea and a great business plan. Plan the vision, plan the goal, plan the steps of how you’re gonna get there and ask lots and lots of questions.

Manjit Minhas

Listen before you act, think and reflect before you decide, and make sure that you have an exit where you can get out if you’re wrong or double up if you’re right.

Michael Wekerle

And for young entrepreneurs:

You’ll never have a time in your life where you have less pressure to do things for other people. So go take the risk; try it, fail fast and keep going.

Arlene Dickinson


Key aptitudes that shape entrepreneurs

According to Yvon Gasse, Professor and Director of the SME and Entrepreneurship Centre at Laval University, there are a series of key aptitudes that make up an entrepreneur, including:

  1. Perseverance
  2. Self-assurance
  3. Creativity
  4. Tolerance for ambiguity
  5. Attitude toward failure
  6. Action-oriented


Entrepreneur self-assessment

Think you’ve got what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Take the BDC self-assessment test and find out.


Establishing your business

Starting a business is perhaps the easiest part. Growing and sustaining it involves hard work, long hours, plus a sound business and secure financing. As the GoForth Institute discovered:

“On average, 150,000 new small businesses are created in Canada each year, but only 51% of new businesses survive 5 years.”

At the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, we’ve written an e-book just for people like you starting out in business. “Keep Growing Your Business” details the attitudes and values you need to think about and incorporate into your business. It includes one action we’ve never seen in any other entrepreneur e-book –

“When was the last time you had a proper, healthy meal? Schedules create balance. You are craving that, and your body will let you know when you are out of sync.”

After all, if you are the engine of your business, you need fuel to power forward! Our e-book is free to download from our website, whether you are a Member or not.


Financing and practical advice for start-ups

Not sure how to write a business plan or approach a bank for financing? Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) have a wealth of resources you can access, covering topics as diverse as taxes to intellectual property rights. The Business Planning section of the Government of Canada website also features useful information, including links to template business plans and the major Canadian banks selection of business resources.


How your local Chamber of Commerce can help

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce gives you access to support and advice from local business people. We can help with practical advice, details on local policies and strategies, and introduce you to the local business community through our networking and social events.

Networking events are a great way to meet members in a relaxed setting. At our networking events, we discuss hot topics and issues facing Ontario businesses today, and we may also have members giving short presentations or guest speakers giving expert information and insights.

Your membership includes a listing in our online Chamber of Commerce Business Directory, which can quite literally put your new business on the map! You can take advantage of sponsorship and advertising opportunities too, such as our low-cost email e-blasts.

You can also be nominated for one of our prestigious business awards, including

  • Outstanding New Business Award
  • Young Entrepreneur/ Professional of the Year

Just contact us for more details, by calling the Chamber office at 519-539-9411 during office hours. Or you can join right now online.