The CanExport grant has been a massive success for small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the Canadian federal government. In recent months the program has gained popularity for pivoting eligible activities to better assist SMEs through the Covid-19 crisis.
In this article, I’ll provide an introduction to the recently updated CanExport SME program, explain how to capitalize on the grant, and review some of the advantages of becoming a Canadian exporter.
E-commerce and the CanExport Program
One of the program’s most recent changes is in helping Canadian businesses sell their world-renowned products through e-commerce platforms. At a time when government bureaucracy is seen as a challenge for business, these changes have been recognized as an impressive move in supporting Canadian companies.
Pivoting to a digital business model is so much more than just updating your website, it can be encouraging your employees to work from home, offering your services online, or using technology to connect your sales with production and customer support.
Canadian SMEs must assess where the future of commerce stands. Will this evolution of digitalization be adopted for good, or will the economy revert to its previous ways?
This is a time where Canadian businesses must recognize the need to adapt their business models and be leaders in the new normal. Fortunately, through Global Affairs Canada there is adequate support for businesses looking to lead in this new reality.
Adopting a Digital Strategy
In order for your CanExport application to have the highest probability of success, you must showcase a thorough digital strategy. The representatives at Global Affairs want to see your digital strategy incorporate your domestic activities with your international ones. In addition, it’s imperative to show you’ve had success with a digital business model in the Canadian marketplace, regardless of how long it’s been for.
When developing your digital strategy make sure to assess which parts of your business will be successful online. Some companies have pivoted to a purely digital business model, although there is no one expecting you to do the same.
Consider these questions when developing your digital strategy:
- Do we have the in-house capabilities to develop, and execute on a digital platform, or will we be outsourcing work to digital marketing companies?
- How can our digital strategy support our team’s productivity and collaboration?
- Which technologies, or functions will best assist our team?
- Have we looked out far enough, or is our digital strategy simply “keeping up” with today’s demands?
- Do we have the expertise to oversee our digital strategy, or should we consult with digital strategists to ensure our success?
Developing a Digital Support Team
In order to execute your digital strategy, you will need to reevaluate your human resource strategy. Many Canadian companies with a digital business model will contract out certain positions, opposed to hiring new team members. Here is a list of positions you will likely need to hire or contract out.
Some companies will have their own in-house web developers, where others will rely on external companies. One important note is that it’s imperative your web developer is able to troubleshoot issues immediately.
Consult with business lawyers that will give advice on conducting business internationally from a digital business model.
With recent travel restrictions, you should show Global Affairs Canada that you have representatives in your target market, able to provide support in the situation that customers need to be met in person.
With international operations, there’s a likelihood you’ll be operating in regions with foreign languages. Ensure you have team members or technology in place to communicate with customers in your target market.
Ensure you have providers in place to ship your products in a safe, and timely manner to the customers in your target market.
Advantages of Being a Canadian Exporter
As Canadians we have always been a nation that supports international trade. In fact, importing and exporting our goods and services takes up around 67% of our GDP. As more emerging markets enter global commerce Canada will play an increasingly important role in global trade.
Exactly why would a Canadian business that’s been successful in the domestic marketplace, consider exporting their goods or services internationally?
If your fixed costs can be covered through your Canadian operations while expanding your sales internationally, you should experience wider profit margins. For instance, instead of creating a new factory overseas, you might be able to just increase your production at your main factory. Therefore, growing your sales without requiring massive investment, hence widening your profits.
By competing abroad you will be introduced to a new level of competition that you wouldn’t see domestically. This competition will push you to refine your products and services to a heightened level. After a few years of competing in the global marketplace, you’ll likely be able to lead the Canadian market with everything you’ve learned.
You will reduce corporate vulnerability by diversifying into international markets. In the scenario that an economic crisis is experienced in the Canadian domestic market, you’ll suffer far less of a loss by being established internationally.
Expanding internationally with the CanExport program is an excellent way to grow your revenue. If business is going well in Canada you can leverage that success by expanding into foreign markets.
By selling to a global market you will require more of the goods you use to produce your product. By having this increased business you will have the purchasing power to acquire products for a lesser price, at higher quantities, therefore helping your profit margins.
The Future of the CanExport Program
The CanExport program was introduced in 2016 by the Canadian federal government.
Is there a potential that a future conservative government may revert this program in an effort to reduce government spending?
We hope this program stands the test of time to support Canadian SMEs in growing their impact across the globe. It’s truly been a massive win for the business community, and for our federal government.
CanExport Grant Writers
Applicants have the choice to write the grant themselves or to work with a consulting firm to help ensure their success. At Bsbcon we take great pride in helping our clients through the process and have had excellent results with the program.
This likely leads you to the question of, “Can we write the CanExport grant ourselves?” or “How hard is it really?” Look, you can absolutely apply yourself, and you might even have your application approved.
Although, we suggest working with professional grant writers to increase your chances of success, as the CanExport program, in particular, has become increasingly popular. When choosing a CanExport grant writer you should know a few things:
Some firms charge a fixed upfront rate, some charge a success-based commission, and some firms offer a mix of both.
Firms with the highest success rate often have consultants that have either worked for the federal government or have experience working with the government from the private sector.
How Many Times Can You Apply?
Applicants are able to apply as many times as they please. With that being said a candidate who has an application under review must wait to either be accepted or rejected before they may apply again.
Applicants that have been accepted must wait for their project to end before they can apply again. Applicants can complete one project and begin another project shortly after. Global Affairs caps all funding for a company at $99,999 per year.
What Happens After An Application is Submitted?
Within 60 calendar days the Trade Commissioner Service guarantees a response whether successful or not. Applicants should keep in mind that the program is competitive, decisions are non-negotiable and final.
If an applicant moves ahead with their project and begins incurring expenses immediately after they submit the application and are rejected, the applicant will be solely responsible for the costs incurred.
The good news for unsuccessful applicants is they’re able to revise their application, instead of writing it all over. The application is online and has no time limit, therefore companies typically complete it over a few weeks.
Successful applicants must be stringent with keeping receipts and records of their international operations. The Trade Commissioner Service requires all receipts related to your application, and will only reimburse costs previously set out on the application. From submitting your reimbursements to receiving the funds is generally within 30 business days.
Applicants may close their project at any time by completing a final report. You can expect confirmation of project closure within 20 business days.
Audits may arise at any time. It is imperative for applicants to keep their records for a minimum of 5 years from project completion. In the situation that the applicant was overpaid by the Government of Canada they are obliged to repay the difference as quickly as possible.
Next Steps With Your CanExport Application
Be sure to reach out to us when you’re ready to apply for the CanExport program. We would be honored to provide our expert grant writing services on your behalf.