In a recent Wall Street Journal article Canada was assessed and ranked, along with 188 other countries against a variety of criteria on how hard or easy it was to do business in that country.
I read the article with great interest. I was of course very curious how Canada was doing against other countries around the globe. I expected to see some rather average and even dismal numbers because a common refrain I hear from many entrepreneurs is that it's too difficult in Canada to start and build a business. High taxes, lack of community support, credit and financing availability are always cited as big ugly barriers to success.
But I want to declare, as I have said before, that I never have really understood these issues. Sure it's hard. Doing anything great takes hard work and faces many obstacles. However, my belief has been, and will continue to be, that we have it pretty darn good. What has happened to us? Has our social system led us to become so complacent and frankly entitled that we don't strive for more? We live in a nation that I fear is at risk of losing its business balls. I believe the reason we don't succeed more is not because of the environment in which we live but rather due to the lack of urgency and deep dedication we have as a people to build and support homegrown business. Just like the kid who has money put in front of him and never has to learn how to earn it himself, have we become entitled?
We live in the richest nation in the world. Our natural resources have created a wealth for us as citizens that helps to ensure we have water, shelter, food. Maslow would tell us that all we need is love - and, yes, we are a loving Country! Perhaps that's why we aren't more aggressive - it's all we lack in the circle of what is needed to survive. But survival is about the long-term. And yes, I certainly cede there are too many homeless and people who are in real need here. But in this instance, I am speaking on the whole about our business community.
Now before you yell at me please let me explain. When you read the accompanying graph you will see that, relatively speaking, we are doing very, very well. Starting a business? We rank #2...in the WORLD. Ease of doing business? #19. Ease of obtaining credit? #28. Out of 189 Countires. And yes,of course we should be seeking to ensure we are in the top ten in the world against these measures. But come on. When you put those numbers in perspective against the competing nations, I think we are set up largely for success. So why aren't we enjoying more of that success on the global stage? Why are Canadian businesses not breaking through in droves?
Why are we not being more innovative, more supportive and vocal about supporting entrepreneurs - and, in a nutshell, simply more proud of enterprises that are Canadian grown and conducting business from here? We often read about the American Dream.The American Dream was founded on the belief that when people worked hard they were rewarded with the fruits of their labor - not simply wealth - but a roof over their heads, food on their tables, believing anything was possible. All from a burning fire in their belly to be more. Why is there not a Canadian Dream that inspires us to the same degree?
I realize I am asking many questions here. I am also asking entrepreneurs to stand up and stand out. To be unafraid - in fact, to be a little less stereotypically Canadian, and a little more proud and earnest about what you are building. We have so much to be proud of - so many intelligent, innovative and curious people doing incredible things - and yet leaving to go elsewhere to build their dreams. My hypothesis isn't that it's too hard here - no, it's because we simply stand at the door and wave goodbye and wish them luck. Sure we feel badly they are going but we somehow forgive and understand it as if it's to be expected. I mean sure, why not - other countries will help them be so much more. And yes, true, we may miss them when they're gone but, hey, we know we will be okay. I say no. Instead of sending them off, we should be holding ticker tape parades in their honour. We have few true obstacles to overcome. Except, perhaps, the biggest obstacle that faces any nation - ourselves.
You can read the article here as well as see the rankings.
Would love your feedback.