Canada is a nation that supports its small businesses, offering numerous government programs, incentives, subsidies, and grants worth billions of dollars.
However, don’t expect the government to simply cut you a cheque. Government grants and subsidies are intended to help particular types of businesses doing particular things.
Use these three suggestions to help find grants and subsidies for your business.
1. Know where to search
- The Canada Business Network is your best place to begin your search.
It’s the federal government’s largest portal for business, and offers a variety of business assistance services and resources for every stage of enterprise development.
You will find an array of programs and incentives to support your activities in research and development, hiring and training employees, exporting products, marketing, and more.
Search for industry-specific assistance
Take the time to explore funding programs applicable to your particular industry or sector.
On the Canada Business Network’s financing search tool, you can narrow the search criteria by specifying your type of business. For example, “senior care” generates a list of programs specific to that industry.
You can also search for funding programs using search engines. If you spend some time investigating programs beyond government sites, you might discover additional opportunities.
2. Understand the terminology
As you search through programs applicable to your business, you’ll notice very few of them use the word “grants.”
The government tends to shy away from this particular word because there may be a few strings attached to the program disqualifying the money as a pure grant.
For example, an applicant may be required to contribute a portion of the project cost. As well, the term “small business financing” typically refers to a loan you must repay.
So look for these terms when searching for funding: awards, shared costs, contributions, subsidies, tax credits, tax rebates, or non-repayable loans.
3. Tailor your business to take advantage of programs
It’s smart to position your business to be eligible for certain grants, subsidies, or programs.
For example, the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit. While it’s not a grant, a tax credit is a welcome financial advantage to any business. It doesn’t take much effort to position qualifying research and development costs (such as wages, overheads, and equipment leases) as eligible expenditures under the program.
Be sure to consult with your accountant about strategies pertaining to SR&ED.
Keep in mind the types of industries that government likes to support. Companies involved in exporting, senior care and alternative energy are a few examples.
You could improve your chances of receiving government grants by entering a business sector known to receive financial support. Just do your homework first.
Allow enough time
The wheels of government move slowly, and some grants set specific application deadlines.
If you miss it this year, you may have to wait until next year. Allow a generous timeline while you pursue any government funding because the application, review, and approval process will probably take longer than expected.
Don’t rely solely on grants
Your business cannot survive on government financing alone.
Take a layered approach when it comes to raising cash by pursuing funds from multiple sources including banks, investors, friends, family, and your own savings. That way any money from the government is a pleasant bonus.
Before you take action on any of the information above, we recommend consulting with a qualified business advisor that understands your unique needs and situation for your specific business and/or personal plans.