Eric Morse is Executive Director of the Morissette Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Ivey School of Business. Neil McLaughlin is Head of Personal and Commercial Banking at Royal Bank of Canada.
The entrepreneurial journey often begins without funding, a team, or a market. But almost all started their careers with plenty of optimism. This helps entrepreneurs see their opportunities well beyond their risks, giving them the confidence and ability to remain resilient.
Personality traits aside, there is no pre-determined ability for any individual to start and grow a business. Even if our schools, the business world, and the media rightfully celebrate their successes, we must be careful not to promote or perpetuate the concept of so-called “entrepreneurship mysteries.”
Entrepreneurship stage is sufficiently challenging without any artificial barriers that might inhibit Canadian entrepreneurship – especially now that an estimated 7 million Canadians are considering starting their own business Business. Encouraging them to join the existing 3.5 million Canadian self-employed will help create a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous country.
Entrepreneurship is a great economic equalizer, creating a pathway for underrepresented groups to participate in the mainstream economy. About 40 years ago, women entrepreneurs made up just over 10 per cent of all Canadian entrepreneurs; now it’s a third. By 2030, equality between new female and male entrepreneurs could be reached, according to a 2019 BDC report.
The same study also noted that the entrepreneurial activity of newcomers is double that of the Canadian-born population. What’s more, they “created more net jobs and their companies grew faster” than the same group.
In addition, a subset of high-growth entrepreneurs are helping to diversify the Canadian economy by reimagining or creating new industries. These “gazelles” are more likely to export their goods and services, thereby creating new wealth in their domestic market.To be sure, although the growth in clean energy exports in recent years has been worth taking note of. Working together to develop an ecosystem for this entrepreneurial group will have a multiplier effect on future economic growth.
Today, 90% of private sector workers are employed by entrepreneurs and their companies, with a large number of SMEs contributing more than $1 trillion to Canada’s GDP, while providing a steady stream of revenue for public programs.
But the benefits of a vibrant startup culture extend far beyond the economy. The speed and unique focus of small and nimble businesses are well-positioned to help Canada address major societal challenges, such as accelerating our transition to a net-zero economy. Of course, at Ivey, many students see entrepreneurship as the fastest way to develop innovative solutions to a range of problems.
However, if our country is to deepen its entrepreneurial culture and inspire more people to start businesses, we must find ways to engage with Canadians beyond the traditional business school environment.
To that end, Ivey partnered with RBC Future Launch and The Globe and Mail to create a free, self-paced Online courses This helps aspiring Canadians gain the knowledge and confidence to build and run their own business. In eight 20-minute modules, award-winning teachers and renowned entrepreneurs help participants understand key concepts such as what a good idea looks like; how to acquire customers; and how to obtain capital to grow their business. There is also a module on starting a social enterprise.
This course was launched in a pinch. During the pandemic, the Canadian economy has experienced a significant decline in “self-employed” workers. A strong recovery is underway — new entrants to businesses are up more than 5.5 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019 — but many aspiring Canadians remain on the sidelines.
Respondent recently owner Investigation helps explain why. Start-up costs were cited as a major barrier for those wanting to run their own business, but nearly 40 percent of respondents said they were “not sure how to start” their business. For these and other potential entrepreneurs, turning aspirations into action should be a national goal.
All the more reason why we must demystify the entrepreneurial journey of founders. Peter Drucker, one of the leading thinkers in management, put it bluntly: “It’s not magic, it’s not mystery, it’s not about genes. It’s a discipline.”
And, we believe, like all disciplines, it can be taught. In fact, it has to be taught in our schools and elsewhere. Because the stronger our entrepreneurial sector is, the better Canada will be.
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