An increasing number of Ontario business owners are recognizing the importance of international import to overall growth and success. In the digital age, it can be overwhelming for young companies to access appropriate services that are specific to their unique needs and assets. For almost a century, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has supported Ontario economic mobility, serving as a great resource for business and trade growth support. For companies that are already selling online and have a market-ready product, but they may not be exporting yet, the OCC offers non-repayable grants on the basis of spend a dollar, get a dollar up to $50,000.
This is part of the Global Growth Funds program which provides two funding opportunities, Export Market Access and Export Manager Program. To date, close to 2000 companies have used and generated just less than half of one billion in export sales. To find out if you are eligible for either fund and how they can help visit the OCC program page.
For further support, Peter Greenall, program officer, Ontario Chamber of Commerce provides expert export advice on when to consider diversifying your markets and what to do in the current trade climate:
- Diversifying depends on a lot of factors – the markets you are seeking to enter, the connections you already have or can make in new markets, your ability to devote time and resources to business development, and how competitive your product/service is outside of your home territory. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity from both CETA and the CPTPP, most of which has yet to be fully understood or explicated – much less taken advantage of by Canadian business. Evaluating these opportunities now is a smart move, regardless of the outcome of the NAFTA renegotiations.
- Whether you are expanding at home or abroad, a smart strategy is one in which you and your business are seen as both distinct and indispensable. Taking an expansive, strategic view of your offerings can help weather the tide of uncertainty from trade disputes, downturns, and recessions, or shifting consumer demand.
- In this current trade climate, businesses need to focus on their competitiveness outside of merely dollars and cents. That could mean looking to appropriate new markets, or for those already exporting to markets such as the U.S., it could mean shifting your value proposition to ensure that your current U.S.-based customers are willing to stay with you through this period of uncertainty. Don’t focus just on the cost or price of your product under a new trade deal or tariff regime – consider how you’re going to innovate regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.”
Magnet Export Business Portal is another tool that can help businesses grown. The Portal is a one-stop online resource for hundreds of trade opportunities and was developed to respond to challenges faced by SMEs trying to access trade opportunities, funding opportunities, information about inbound and outbound trade missions to connect to other businesses and general growth resources. The free online resource contains content and program information from several different business growth, trade and government partners including the Ontario Government, Global Affairs Canada, BDC, and Export Development Canada (EDC) — to make sure there is a pipeline of information available.
The web-based platform helps businesses maximize international market potential by helping connect exporters with the tools and relevant export resources, funding and information they need to grow their business. Devon Franklin, of Magnet Export Business Portal, says, “time is money and scouring the Internet for the right kind of information to meet your trade needs can take up valuable resources. It only takes a few minutes to register – and it’s free. Even if you aren’t exporting yet, signing up can help you tap into resources to get you to the next level of partners and information to get you ready to expand your markets.”