Grants and subsidies to grow your business

Canada is a nation that supports its small businesses. Learn where to find your share.

Canada is a nation that supports its small businesses, as evidenced by our numerous government programs, incentives, subsidies and grants worth billions of dollars. Learn where to find your share.

You owe it to your business to explore every feasible funding option, and that should include available grants and subsidies.

Canada offers numerous financial incentives designed to support your small business—from wage subsidies to help cover payroll costs, to marketing funds to supporting a promotional campaign. However, don’t expect the government to simply cut you a cheque: government grants and subsidies are intended to aid particular types of businesses doing particular things.

Use these 3 suggestions to help find grants and subsidies for your business.

  1. Know where to search

    The Canada Business Network is your best place to begin your search. It’s the federal government’s largest portal for business, and offers a variety of business assistance services and resources for every stage of enterprise development. You will find a dizzying array of programs and incentives to support your activities in research and development, hiring and training employees, exporting products, marketing and more.

    Search for industry-specific assistance
    Take the time to explore funding programs applicable to your particular industry or sector. On the Canada Business Network’s financing search tool, you can narrow the search criteria by specifying your type of business—for example, “senior care” generates a list of programs specific to that industry.

    You can also search for funding programs using search engines. If you spend some time investigating programs beyond government sites, you might discover additional opportunities.

  2. Understand the terminology

    As you search through programs applicable to your business, you’ll notice very few of them use the word ‘grants’. The government tends to shy away from this particular word because there may be a few strings attached to the program disqualifying the money as a pure ‘grant’—for example, an applicant may be required to contribute a portion of the project cost. And, the term ‘small business financing’ typically refers to a loan you must repay.

    So look for these terms when searching for funding: awards, shared costs, contributions, subsidies, tax credits, tax rebates or non-repayable loans.

  3. Tailor your business to take advantage of programs

    It’s smart to position your business to be eligible for certain grants, subsidies or programs.

    For example, let’s say a business in Prince Edward Island wants to hire a new employee. That business could tailor its employment opportunity to meet the funding requirements of the Career Focus program, where eligible businesses can receive a salary subsidy to hire recent post-secondary graduates.

    Another example involves the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit. While it’s not a grant, a tax credit is a welcome financial advantage to any business. It doesn’t take much effort to position qualifying research and development costs (such as wages, overheads, and equipment leases) as eligible expenditures under the program. Be sure to consult with your accountant about strategies pertaining to SR&ED.

    Keep in mind the types of industries that government likes to support. Companies involved in exporting, senior care and alternative energy are a few examples. You could improve your chances of receiving government grants by entering a business sector known to receive financial support—just do your homework first.

Allow enough time

The wheels of government move slowly. Some grants set specific application deadlines—if you miss it this year, you may have to wait until next year. So allow a generous timeline while you pursue any government funding because the application, review and approval process will probably take longer than expected.

Don’t rely solely on grants

Your business cannot survive on government financing alone. Take a layered approach when it comes to raising cash by pursuing funds from multiple sources including banks, investors, friends, family and your own savings. That way any money from the government is a pleasant bonus.

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