Vice President & Chief Economist, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Mediaplanet spoke with Ted Mallett, Vice President and Chief Economist at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and lead researcher of CFIB’s annual Entrepreneurial Communities report on Canada’s top cities for starting or running a business.
Mediaplanet: You release a report on Canada’s most entrepreneurial communities each year. What makes a community entrepreneurial?
Ted Mallett: The word “entrepreneurial” generally refers to a person’s willingness to invest in a venture along a new pathway where the chance of success is uncertain. For instance, if there are a lot of self-employed people in a community relative to its population, or if the numbers of businesses are growing quicker than average, those are signs that entrepreneurial activity is taking place. Similarly, we look for cities where business owners tend to be optimistic and where municipal governments have the most favourable tax and regulatory policies directed at small businesses.
What can cities do to foster entrepreneurialism and a vibrant startup culture?
City governments need to recognize that entrepreneurship has substantial up-front risks and costs. Governments shouldn’t be over-taxing businesses — that is, demanding that they subsidize the cost of city services to residential property owners. In addition, they should ensure regulatory and licensing requirements are kept to the minimum necessary.
Do you have any advice for people looking for the best place to start a business?
Success can be found by any type of business in any community. The key is having a better product or process than one’s competitors. It also helps to seek a place where upfront costs, like property costs, aren’t too high. People generally start businesses close to home because they’re most familiar with their surroundings. It helps, though, to get to know other communities as well and to compare the pros and cons.