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At a Crossroads


Supports, supports everywhere!

> PUBLISHED April 22, 2016    |    WRITTEN BY Kieran Hanley

business supports
There's so many business supports out there... it's hard to know which one's right to jump on.

There’s no shortage of help out there for business – finding the right match is the trick

If you’re a business looking to either start up for the first time or simply improve on your existing operations, there are many, many sources of support and funding to help you on your way.

Whether you’re looking to purchase equipment, change the lights in your warehouse, hire somebody to investigate a new product idea, implement efficient management systems, or get your products in to Mexico, there’s an agency out there that can contribute. There’s supports for starting up, for developing your product, for getting that product to market (and then into international markets), and even for planning for what will happen to the business when you the founder moves on.

… there’s so much support available out there it can be overwhelming

And the agencies that provide these supports are willing partners. They really do want to help you. It’s not just their mandate to help you; the folks working with businesses know that every time a firm is able to improve it has an effect on the economy at large. Contributing to private sector growth employs people, helps communities, hopefully making the province or the country more competitive in the process.

In fact, there’s so much support available out there it can be overwhelming. Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial government offers supports through its Department of Business, Tourism, Culture, and Rural Development and crown corporations like the Research and Development Corporation (RDC). The federal government offers supports through a number of its departments, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and also crown corporations like the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). There’s the National Research Council (NRC), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). There’s Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs), Export Development Canada (EDC), Springboard, and Mitacs. There’s incubators, green funds, innovation funds, training funds, and subsidies for hiring new labour.

You get the point. Making matters more complicated, each of these agencies likely has more than one type of programming available. The reality is that each of these agencies and their programs have specific purposes which are aimed at helping businesses accomplish different things at different stages in their growth and development. But it’s challenging, even for those working in the economic development field, to keep tabs on all of the available programming and when they best apply.

… many of these agencies are hungry to work with appropriate partners

And sometimes it is even difficult for the agencies themselves to find partners to avail of their services. Agencies have targets they are supposed to reach each fiscal year and, as with most public funding, the fear is pots of money will disappear if not used. The result is that many of these agencies are hungry to work with appropriate partners for reasons both holistic and practical, so if your company has its ‘ducks in a row’ and sees opportunities for growth – explore your options.

To help paint a clearer picture of what supports are out there (and how your business can benefit), each month the nlpost will highlight an agency and the programming it offers. Odds are that by the end of the year you will read about a program that could help you.

Or maybe you think everything’s running tickity-boo with your business and there’s no room for improvement – well that’s great but it’s probably not true. You can always be more productive, always be more competitive.

We will leave you with a series of questions to ponder about your operations. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of them, there’s a program out there to support you.

  • Did you ever have to redo work because it was not to standard?
  • Are your energy or transportation costs higher than they should be?
  • Are you thinking of hiring a student to help your firm conduct need research?
  • Could you use help financing international business travel, or participation at trade fairs?
  • Would an investment in new equipment increase your efficiency?
  • Do you have questions about filing patents or protecting your intellectual property?
  • Do you waste time looking for files and e-mails?
  • Could you use help creating a market entry strategy?
  • Are you carrying more inventory than you require?
  • Have you developed a new product or service which you are now trying to bring to market?
  • Could you use help identifying gaps in your existing export strategy or preparations?
  • Are you adapting existing technology to meet business needs or respond to market opportunities?
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> About the Writer
Kieran Hanley is the Owner and Publisher of the nlpost.