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Checking in with Canadian entrepreneurs

{toggle author}In these rapidly changing times, both politically and economically, the operation of a business is under scrutiny. Those receiving most attention are the proverbial entrepreneurs. Essentially, they are dynamic, eclectic and well-versed individuals that abhor corporatism and bureaucracy. In essence, they are visionaries who refuse to kow-tow to lethargy


The history of Canadian industry has had a scarcity of true entrepreneurs. Twenty-five years ago, employment was somewhat guaranteed. Wherever one worked, they generally worked for life. Today all that is gone. Economic dislocation, social disintegration, and political and cultural transformation have created a new dynamic: entrepreneurship.

An entrepreneurial nation is a country that understands it must pay its own way. It is people who take responsibility for their futures, who know how to create value for others. This denotation reflects today’s ‘reality’. It, nonetheless falls for the misguided notion that governments are becoming irrelevant. This is another debate.

What do Canadian entrepreneurs think today? Having worked with Canadian entrepreneurs for many years, I have collected the following observations. On one level, there is the overall observation about the business environment. There are the usual concerns about customer relations, cash flow, proper reporting of financial information, expansion and of course, profits. However, the most interesting issue today involves the subject of global expansion, and offshore outsourcing.

Canadian companies are renowned for conservatism and hesitancy when international markets are the focus. Very few companies are taking advantage of the opportunities of global expansion or outsourcing. When dealing with barriers to expansion, the first things that seem to concern this community are international regulatory issues. But what follows are: limited knowledge of foreign markets; political stability; economic stability; and language.

This also applies to Canadian entrepreneurs. What this signifies is that they do not read about and understand the complexity of the global marketplace. Surely with the advance of information, business intelligence, research and niche media outlets one would expect that business leaders would access all this.

Yet the ‘lack of knowledge’ continues to dominate. Moreover, globalization does not mean that only business is interdependent, but also politics, culture, economics and commerce are converging. To be a true entrepreneur, vibrant, dynamic and indefatigable, being well read and informed is significantly important.

Finally, with the admission of ignorance, business leaders and entrepreneurs continue to be satisfied with the same traditional professionals, who over the years have misunderstood or were hoodwinked by the rapidity of global change. The plethora of accountants, lawyers, bankers and management consultants churning out opinions and advice need to re-evaluate their orthodox operations and information. Conversely, budding entrepreneurs, who on the whole advocate self-help when social and personal finance are on the table, need to heed their own advice and begin to do some ‘self research’ by reading widely and using alternative information outlets.

The Canadian business community is missing the boat on global competition. To meet the challenge they must focus their resources on their core competencies as a business strategy to compete profitably in a global market. Canadian companies that do not at least explore the prospect of outsourcing some of their manufacturing or labour intensive functions are doomed to fail in the coming years.

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corp. Mark can be contacted at mercant@interlog.com.