Too Few Entrepreneurs Able to Scale Up Their Business

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce Report Identifies Six Barriers to Growth

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Too Few Entrepreneurs Able to Scale Up Their Business

About the Author

Kristen Curry

Kristen Curry

Kristen Curry is the Communications Coordinator at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, and a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University where she received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication and Media Studies with Business Management Option.

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Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), released the report, Breaking Barriers: Ontario’s Scale Up Challenge, which identifies the major roadblocks preventing Ontario businesses from expanding and presents recommendations to best support business owners in taking their ventures to the next stage of growth. According to the report, based on interviews with nearly two dozen business owners, sector associations, and other organizations, as well as a survey of over 350 Ontario business owners, too few entrepreneurs are continuing to build their business, or “scale up”, in the province.

The report adds to a recent chorus of voices calling for governments, the business community, and other actors to build on the province’s entrepreneurial spirit by creating the conditions to enable our most promising firms to scale. “This is an important time to be talking about this issue faced by the Oakville business community. We have a great opportunity to align with government to more effectively tackle this challenge. ” said Kerry Colborne, Chair, Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

To position Ontario for long-term success, the report proposes recommendations to address six specific barriers preventing businesses from growing, which includes a lack of access to talent with scale up experience, gaps in the right kinds of financing, and lower incentives to growth offered through public programs.

Chief among the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s recommendations are for governments to improve businesses’ access to talent in the short-term by creating a scale-up visa to quicken access to essential international managerial talent. According to an OCC survey, 63 percent of businesses that are looking to grow face a talent shortage. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce also encourages governments to gain a better understanding of where current gaps exist in the Canadian financing landscape.

Other recommendations of the report include:

  1. Realign public programs and incentives to focus supports on high-growth firms
  2. Encourage greater international trade activity by linking more business support programs to trade
  3. Improve access to public and private anchor customers by leveraging procurement to strategically invest in growing businesses
  4. Enable accurate measurement and monitoring of the scale up challenge by ensuring collaboration between Statistics Canada and industry groups to collect and publicize relevant data

The OCC’s survey also revealed that the cost of doing business remains a top issue for Ontario employers as 69 percent of business owners looking to grow identified this as a barrier. Through its advocacy efforts on other key policy issues, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the OCC, continues to highlight the cost of doing business as a major challenge facing Ontario’s business community. The survey was conducted online between March 3 and April 11, 2016. The total number of surveys is 359.

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