Whether you’ve just launched a new start-up or have already turned a profit, as a young entrepreneur you are always on the look-out for new opportunities, markets, and people to sell your product or service to! Before the rise of the internet, social networks and mobile technology it would have been completely ridiculous to launch a new business internationally, but with the advancement of these technologies and the connectedness of our world, international expansion is no longer unattainable. In fact, launching a business on an international scale can actually be an advantageous decision!
Welcome to Canada!
Although we might be known for our funny colored money (coloured in “Canadian”), igloo homes (we don’t live in these, by the way), love of hockey and unusual accents, young American entrepreneurs looking to expand into new markets shouldn’t be afraid to look north to Canada! If you’ve never taken a trip to one of Canada’s major urban centers (centres in “Canadian”), you might not be aware that Canadians are, in fact, very similar to Americans in terms of business practices, physical appearance, language and intelligence. To be fair, we might be smarter, but that is still up for debate!
Here are some interesting points about Canada that you may not have known:
Canada has a population of nearly 34 million people. Of these, over 13 million live in Ontario alone with Toronto and Ottawa being the two largest provincial cities. The truly interesting statistic is that nearly 90% of our population lives within 100 miles of the US border! While we are not well known for our metropolitan areas, Toronto is actually the 4th largest city in North America behind New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Nearly 27 million Canadians are connected to the Internet, giving us an impressive 79% penetration compared to the 77% in the United States. More importantly for GenY entrepreneurs, of these 27 million internet users nearly 60% of them are actively using Facebook and other social networks compared to only 52% of Americans.
If your market can’t afford your products or services, there is very little use in trying to sell to them. Canada has a very high average income of nearly $67, 000 per year and when you compare this to the average income in the United States it is almost $16, 000 per year higher! This being the case, Canadians have a greater ability to purchase what you’re selling.
American culture is quite funny to us Canadians (as I’m sure ours is to you). Now I don’t mean funny as an insult, I mean funny as in “inconsistent”. Even just looking at New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas there are glaring differences in culture, language and the general way of life ranging from laid back to excessively busy. Canadians are more consistent (aka boring). Talk to someone from Ottawa, Ontario and they are going to be pretty similar to another person in Vancouver, British Columbia. You’ll recognize Vancouver from such Olympic Games as the ones that occurred earlier this year; sorry about the hockey game if you follow the sport! Anyway, sorry for the tangent, where was I? Oh yes, we’re similar and boring, but that’s great if you’re trying to market a product or service! When you bring your business to Canada you can advertise the same way in New Brunswick as you can in Alberta, for the most part. We have weird slang but it’s generally the same from city to city. Note: you will need a translator if you look at Newfoundland & Labrador as a market you want to go after. No offense, guys, just saying!
Free Trade Agreements
“You” steal our water, borrow our electricity, build homes with our lumber, abuse our oil fields and kidnap our women and “we” use Google, Pay Pal, American Express credit cards, and accept US currency as payment. Jokes aside, this allows American businesses to set up shop in Canada quite easily as you can use the majority of any major web based payment applications, file sharing tools and advertising mediums quite effectively.
We think we`re American…sort of
As much as we don`t like to admit it, it`s true. While we are very patriotic people who worship our beavers religiously, we also have no problem supporting American businesses, shopping at American stores and eating delicious, heart-stopping, American fast food. Also, don`t worry about your lack of understanding for Canadian politics, we face the same problem and probably know more about American politics that you even do.
This is a quick synopsis of what makes Canada an attractive option for young American entrepreneurs looking to expand their operations. Each week on “Canada, eh?”, I will look into more specific details about things like Canadian incorporation and business practices, market opportunities, geographic segmentation, opening a Canadian office, what’s hot in this frozen wasteland and feature interviews with some of the top Canadian CEOs running innovative, successful international businesses! For Canadian readers, don’t worry I won’t give away too many of our secrets or make us look like a bunch of uncultured “hosers”. I will, however, share my experiences in launching a start- up in both Canada and the United States and outline the challenges and opportunities in doing so!
Talk to y’all soon, eh!
Dave Hale is the founder & CEO of Soshal Group, a company based out of Ottawa, Canada that
manages interactive online customer service for their clients across North America, saving them time, money and resources. A writer, speaker and advocate for youth entrepreneurship, Dave is an active member of the GenY community in both Canada and the Unites States and would love to connect on Twitter: @DaveCHale or through Email: [email protected].