(As originally published on LinkedIn, 9 June 2017)
Together, governments, corporations and entrepreneurs can drive growth in uncertainty
By: Francois Tellier, EY Canada’s Growth Markets leader, and managing partner of Transaction Advisory Services for Quebec
Recently, our global business environment has been tricky to navigate. From unexpected election results to the quick rise of artificial intelligence, the business landscape is virtually unpredictable.
So how can we thrive in this new normal? This is the question our EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year forum aims to shed some light on, through various panels, discussions and brainstorming sessions throughout this week in Monaco.
In my view, it all goes back to the old adage that two heads are better than one. Except in this case, three heads are better than one.
Governments, corporations and entrepreneurs need to work together to create an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs prosper.
Why should entrepreneurs be a focus? Because our collective prosperity depends on entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurs provide a source of income and employment for themselves and for others. They produce new and innovative products and services in step with the latest tech advances. And they encourage creativity and competition.
Entrepreneurs have the drive and agility to carry all of us through unpredictability, now, and in the future. Let’s give them a little push.
Access to funding
Without the capital to get started, entrepreneurial ideas can’t be realized. Besides the standard funding avenues, we need to work with venture capitalists (VCs), incubators and business angels to develop alternative sources of capital.
But capital without mentorship is less meaningful. To take it a step further, we need funding mechanisms (perhaps backed by government) that make mentorship and financial education prerequisites for funding. This would help make sure that entrepreneurs who have access to funding know how to use it.
Tax and regulation
Canada’s 2017 budget announced the intention to simplify the tax system to make it less burdensome and complicated. Doing that for the benefit of entrepreneurs specifically should be at the top of our list. The fewer barriers we put up in front of our daring business owners, the more positive results we’ll see.
The government can also use tax incentives as a tool to encourage investment in young, promising businesses. Canada is already taking action in this area, but we can still push the envelope.
The biggest challenge is to build a strong entrepreneurship culture all across Canada. Every child living in Canada should be able to aspire to one day become an entrepreneur – and feel encouraged by others to pursue that dream. This type of aspiration takes decades, so we need to start building that culture now.
Firstly, we should be encouraging and fostering hubs, incubators and accelerators to bring talent together and offer support for budding entrepreneurs.
Secondly, we need to talk about it! We need to tell the stories of how rewarding and life-changing entrepreneurship can be, about the learning that happens at entrepreneurial lows, and the breathtaking successes that make it all worth it. Our children need to grow up understanding that entrepreneurship can be a noble and rewarding career choice.
We need to teach entrepreneurship from an early age, so that by the time our young people are ready to launch their start-up, they know what that entails, how to tackle it, and what awaits them. It doesn’t have to be a complex, coordinated push. Little by little, we can make sure schools include entrepreneurship as part of their curriculum.
As EY gathers some of the leading business minds of the world to discuss how to adjust to this new normal global business environment, we don’t need to look far to realize that encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship can lead to real prosperity.
On Saturday, I’ll be doing just that, cheering for an entrepreneur who’s an example to us all – Murad Al-Katib of AGT Foods. He’s up for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 title, competing with 50 other finalists from around the world. No matter the outcome, we couldn’t be more proud to have him represent Canada.