Your business may know that Canadian government grant and loan programs are available for a range of strategic projects – maybe you’ve even applied for provincial or federal funding in the past – but if you would like to know about the importance of funding and the best ways to optimize an application, or simply how to get started, this article is intended to help businesses looking to embed government funding into their strategic plan.
Canadian government funding can offset anywhere from 15-100% of strategic project costs depending on the unique grant or loan program, helping eligible businesses to meet and exceed their objectives and targets.
A key document that highlights how important Canadian government funding can be is the annual federal budget. Last year’s Federal Budget 2022 – also known as “A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable” – includes a total spend of $190.3 billion. The budget includes funding support options for Canadian businesses to focus on economic growth, jobs creation, cleantech innovation, and digital transformation investment.
The Benefits of Canadian Government Grants and Loans
Government grants and loans can create an additional cashflow of financial support into important projects, which in turn can lead to expanded projects that can be completed faster and more efficiently. This improved agility from government funding support builds competitiveness and allows businesses the space to become market leaders.
Three Key Benefits in Utilizing Government Grants and Loans:
- Canadian government funding can fuel projects that would otherwise be unable to proceed without additional support.
- Government funding supports business growth and development.
- Government grants and loans can improve project outcomes.
Each year, thousands of businesses across Canada are awarded Canadian government funding to complete more projects and improve their growth trajectory. These funding success stories serve as a model for other businesses who wish to benefit from government funding.
Getting Started: The Canadian Government Funding Application Process
The process of accessing government grants and loans in Canada can be an enjoyable and highly rewarding task for small and medium-sized business owners and leaders to undertake if they utilize the appropriate resources and guidance.
“The application process is not easy, but it can be simplified by planning ahead and linking strategic goals to the right small business grants and loans programs offered through provincial and federal governments.”
– Bernadeen McLeod, Founder and Former President of Mentor Works
In order to have success in accessing grants and loans for your Canadian small to medium-sized business, your business must first understand the Canadian government funding landscape and be proactive in building a plan around upcoming strategic projects and accompanying budgets. The following are four crucial steps to getting started:
Step 1: Develop a Strategic Analysis of Your Needs and Goals
It’s important to understand that since government grant and loan programs are project-specific, it will help to start by establishing both critical and blue sky projects you can commit to that will directly support the growth of your company and strengthen its competitive advantage.
Suggestion: Sit down with your management team and brainstorm what could be improved in the business. Here are a few questions to get started:
- Would you benefit from hiring any co-op students or recent graduates?
- Could your workplace benefit from innovative, updated technology to directly improve operations and processes?
- Are there any opportunities for business expansion? Would you benefit from a detailed market analysis of your growth potential to expand overseas?
- Is there room for any research and development projects that would contribute to advancing your products and/or services, especially in innovation (for example, clean technology progress) or national economic growth?
Step 2: Select Grants and Loans Specific to Your Business’ Analysis
Finding and selecting the most suitable government grant and loan programs can be difficult for two main reasons:
- There are a multitude of different programs, all with their own focus, eligibility criteria, application process, and when they’re available.
- For small and medium-sized businesses, it is nearly impossible to allocate the internal resources to stay on top of all the program releases and updates.
For this reason, business consulting firms such as Mentor Works offer an online database to Canadian government funding programs.
When looking through these programs based on region, industry, and activity, remember to consider the business-specific projects your team identified in Step 1.
Step 3: Assign Your Funding Application(s) to Someone Who Will Lead the Process with Confidence and Knowledge
Once you have outlined the funding programs that match your strategic needs, you may either:
- Engage in professional grant writing services; or
- Assign and attempt the application process internally.
Unfortunately, many of the businesses that try to do funding applications on their own often miss the deadlines to apply because they either hit a sticking point or became distracted with other day-to-day responsibilities of their work. These deadlines also lead to businesses not having enough time to create a compelling story throughout their application that speaks to both the program’s objectives and the businesses’ vision and intentions.
Aside from the obvious benefit of knowledge and expertise of the grant application process and the issuing organization’s expectations, strategic partners such as Mentor Works can drive the application process on track and assure it is submitted within the program’s timelines.
Step 5: Enjoy the Benefits of Successful Grants and Loans Applications
Without a doubt the most enjoyable part of the process comes once the loan or grant application has been received and approved.
Aside from the delight which business owners may feel when they receive that first cheque, the application process has been noted by many as either a stressful or positive experience, heavily depending on whether a business decided to apply themselves, or save time and energy by working with a strategic partner. The application process requires being proactive and diligent, so when a company receives between 15 to 75% of project expenses from government sources, a higher level of accountability is also instilled on those responsible for completing the project.
Free Downloadable Resources to Help Your Funding Journey
Mentor Works offers a collection of free downloadable resources for Canadian businesses looking to learn more about the landscape of government funding. The following free resources may be of assistance in completing any of the above four steps:
- Canadian Business Funding Guide: To help accelerate your understanding of the Canadian government funding process, access this comprehensive guide of resources to learn about qualifying and discovering funding programs.
- Build a Government Funding Plan: To help discover your business’ needs and goals and optimize a funding plan that best suits your timeline.
- Navigating the Government Funding Process: Accessing government funding can be complicated and often requires considerable time and resources, learn more about navigating the funding landscape.
Three Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Canadian Government Funding
Does my business qualify for Canadian government funding?
For most government grant and loan programs, Canadian businesses need to be incorporated for at least three years, have at least 15 people on payroll, and maintain positive net income. But there are exceptions to this, such as COVID-19 relief and recovery funding programs, hiring and training programs, and certain grant and/or loan programs which cater specifically to drive the success of small businesses.
Please consult the Mentor Works Canadian Business Funding Guide for more information about eligibility criteria.
Which programs are best for my business growth plans?
As discussed earlier in this article, the first step of the Canadian government funding process is to determine your strategic goals. After this, using external support services, such as Mentor Works’s turnkey funding guidance, can greatly help this process through the creation of a customized list of programs that provide unique funding for specific projects.
Browse the Government Funding Directory to discover activity-specific projects for your industry.
What is the rate of approval for government funding applications?
The success rate of approval is dependent on the specific program that your business applies for and whether you’re able to correctly address the program objectives and critical factors, such as eligible activities and expenses.
Having an eligible project does not guarantee having a competitive project. Even if your application meets all of the program criteria, there is no guarantee that your application will succeed, however the four steps discussed earlier in this article can help your business maximize funding success rates.
Access a full list of Canadian Government Funding FAQs to answer any more questions you may have.
Get Help Navigating the Funding Process
If your business is looking to access available government grant and loan programs, Mentor Works can help through the government funding process by preparing and planning with your strategic objectives in mind so that your business can receive as much financial support as possible.
Sign up for a free government funding discovery session to learn alongside a funding expert about region, industry, or activity-specific programs to help reach your goals.