What you should know about the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada

What you should know about the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada

Canada is one of the most desirable countries for immigrant entrepreneurs to grow their early-stage companies. Statistics show that first and second-generation entrepreneurs make up almost 35 percent of all start-ups in the country. Canada’s wide embrace of cultural diversity and business innovation undoubtedly aids in the nation’s global popularity, but it is the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada that is really making international entrepreneurs flock to the hockey-loving nation.


What is the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?


Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program for immigrant entrepreneurs offers Canadian permanent residence, targeting people who have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale. 

The Start-Up Visa Program (“SUV”) connects candidates with a designated organization such as a business incubator, who helps establish their business in Canada. Initially, entrepreneurs can come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated organization before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is in full operation.


What requirements are needed to enter Canada’s start-up Visa Program?


Basic eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa in Canada include having a:

  • Qualifying Business for Canada
  • Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a Designated Organization
  • Sufficient and Available Funds 
  • Proficiency in English or French 


What businesses qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?


At the time of commitment from a designated organization:

  • An SUV candidate must hold 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation (up to 5 people can apply as owners)
  • An SUV candidate and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time


How do I get a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support for the SUV Program?


Every designated organization in the SUV program has different requirements on how start-ups gain its support and in turn, receive a commitment certificate and letter of support needed for their SUV application. You will need to correspond directly with the organization to pitch that your business is worth supporting. This may be an in-person meeting, a formal proposal, or an application for their business incubation program.


How much money is required for the start-up Visa Program in Canada?


SUV applications require proof of sufficient and available funds to support yourself and any dependents after you arrive in Canada. 

Fund requirements vary based on the size of your family. In addition to SUV’s requirements, you should prepare financially and calculate how much money you will need to live in your Canadian region.


What language skills do I need for the Start-Up Visa Program?


Proficiency in English, French, or both languages is required. A language test must be taken from an approved agency and your results must be submitted with your SUV application. You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in four areas: speaking, reading, listening, and writing.


How do I start the process of entering the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?


An SUV-designated business incubator program not only helps meet SUV requirements, but you will gain invaluable knowledge that will prepare you for business in Canada. Learn about accepted business culture, common business practices, and government regulations. You may also be given networking opportunities so you can form connections before arriving in Canada.

Located between Toronto and Ottawa, Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas is one of few rural business incubators in Canada designated to offer a Start-Up Visa Program and has supported more than 40 companies owned by immigrant entrepreneurs since 2021. Start the conversation by asking questions and learning how you can begin your journey to Canada.


How to Create a Startup Budget

How to Create a Startup Budget

Successful entrepreneurs know all too well that every dollar counts in the early stages of their business. However, only 54 percent of small businesses in the U.S. had a budget in 2021. Having a detailed and organized budget helps you be strategic with your spending and stay on track to achieve your goals. Here we will teach you how to create a startup budget that will allow your business to grow and succeed. 


What steps should you follow when creating a startup budget?


According to an October 2020 survey conducted by Shopify, startup business owners spend an average of $40,000 in their first year. However, this amount varies significantly as every startup has different needs. 

Budgeting for a small business startup can be overwhelming, but following these steps on how to do a startup budget for a small business can alleviate a lot of your stress. 


5 Steps to Building a Startup Budget:


1. Choose a budgeting tool that works best for your business


Budgets do not need to be fancy, but they need to meet the needs of your company as it grows and evolves. Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets may be sufficient right now, but you may want to consider using a startup budget template or startup budgeting software.


2. Set a budgeting goal


Set a realistic budget goal to keep you on track and quickly separate your essential expenses from wish list items.


3. Categorize and tally your expenses 

Separate your fixed costs and variable costs. 

Fixed costs include more finite expenses such as rent/mortgage, payroll, and insurance. Variable costs have some ‘wiggle room’ and include things such as materials, marketing, transportation, and travel. 

Now calculate your total. Remember that some costs may be one-time expenses and others may be recurring either monthly, quarterly, or annually.


4. Calculate your total revenue


As a startup, you may not have past sales to help forecast your revenue. For this reason, you should consider forming two sets of projections: One you hope for and the other more realistic. Potential sources of funding may include product or service sales, loans, savings, or investment income.


5. Compare your expenses and revenue


Have a detailed look at your expenses and compare them with your revenue. If your budget is far off from the goal you set in step # 2, decide which variable expenses you may not need at this point in time. These items can always be reintroduced as your revenue increases.  


Startup costs to consider


Every startup business is different and therefore no budget will look the same. However, there are some common startup business costs that every entrepreneur should be aware of.


8 Budget Items to Consider 

  1. Office or Workspace: Rent/mortgage, furniture, office supplies, utilities, internet etc.
  2. Equipment: Technology/Machinery
  3. Incorporation Fees
  4. Low-Cost Marketing
  5. Website: Development & Maintenance
  6. Payroll & Consulting Fees
  7. Taxes
  8. Emergency fund


If you are not confident with budgeting, the good news is you don’t have to navigate it alone. A full-service startup incubator can help you build and manage a budget that sets you up for success. 

Contact Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas to get started!

How does networking help your business grow?

How does networking help your business grow?

Forced ice breakers, repetitive elevator pitches, and stiff meet-and-greets. These networking stereotypes lead many entrepreneurs to skip business socials, conferences, and other events out of fear of feeling awkward, uncomfortable, or out of their element. However, networking with the right approach can be extremely effective and enjoyable, and can eventually become second nature when you do it regularly. So how does networking help your business? Quite simply, it can be the instrumental tool that accelerates your company’s overall growth and success.


Why is networking important for your business?


You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” As a business owner, you may be shaking your head thinking about the amount of knowledge and skills you have had to acquire. 

However, there is some merit to this statement. 

Who you know is sometimes the ticket to landing a meeting with a promising client, investor, or receiving a much-needed favour at the eleventh hour. Every person you meet also has their own network, which opens up even greater possibilities for becoming introduced or connected to the right people. 

Networking is necessary for effective entrepreneurship as it presents opportunities you might not be able to access on your own and it is also an inexpensive and organic way to promote your business. 


Types of Business Networking


How to secure your business network begins with understanding the types of business networking opportunities that are available. Networking can come in many forms, but we have compiled a list of popular networking opportunities that can help you begin to expand your connections.

Conferences and Events

Various organizations hold seminars, lectures, luncheons and more that are advertised. Search your local region for upcoming events.

Industry Associations

Many industry associations operate networking groups that can help you meet influential people in your sector.

Online Networking

Social networking on platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, or attending online webinars can be a great way to make connections with people you would otherwise never meet. 

Social Events

Networking at social events can set an informal atmosphere that lets you build relationships in a relaxed, yet effective way. 



5 Tips to Achieve Effective Networking


Understanding what business networking is and its benefits is just as important as having the right approach so your networking efforts are effective. Here are 5 tips to achieve effective networking:


  • Seek the right people. 

Surround yourself with people who will enrich your network. Research who the best people are to network with for your business.


  • Be proactive. 

Generating conversation for some people can be nerve-racking. A great way to begin networking is by having open-ended questions ready that you can ask people in an informal manner. 


  • Have a solid pitch polished and ready.

People you meet will ask about your business. Having a seamless 30-second pitch that is clear, well-explained, and sounds natural goes a long way.


  • Stay connected.

Once relationships have been established, making an effort to foster these relationships goes a long way. Using online platforms and social media is a great way to maintain relationships.


  • Participate in business networking hosted by a startup incubator.

Startup incubators often host free or low-cost networking opportunities that attract the local business community, investors, and other entrepreneurs. It is a fantastic way to meet the right people and stay connected within your local community.

3 Low-Cost Marketing Strategies for Startups

3 Low-Cost Marketing Strategies for Startups

As a startup business owner, you are well aware that marketing is essential to increase brand awareness and drive sales, but creating and implementing effective marketing strategies requires time and money. With zero or little cash to spare marketing can seem impossible, but there are low-cost marketing strategies for startups that can effectively begin growing your business.


Why are low-cost marketing strategies for startups vital for success?


Even if your business has the potential to be the next Apple or Amazon, your startup will never grow if no one knows it exists. 

Prioritizing marketing strategy differentiates brands from their competition, from early-stage companies to the most influential global brands. 

Hiring a dedicated marketing professional or acquiring marketing services from an agency does not exactly fit within an early-stage startup’s budget. Although this should be a future goal, your business cannot afford to wait for this to be possible. 

We have identified the top 3 best marketing strategies for startups to follow while working with an average startup marketing budget.


Identify your target customer to drive marketing strategies.


Because marketing and advertising costs for a startup business have to remain minimal, you want to make sure every project, initiative, and marketing campaign is highly targeted.

The most effective approach for sales and marketing for startups is to determine your startup target market so you can make an educated decision on what marketing strategy is the best fit for your business. We recommend to only focus on your top Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Beginning by choosing one clearly defined ICP rather than going after multiple at once allows you to allocate 100 percent of your focus on your most significant target. Doing this increases your chance of driving revenue early on, which makes your marketing efforts more effective. Examples of low-cost strategies that become more effective when using a well-defined ICP are Inside Sales and Account-Based Marketing.

Inside Sales sells a company’s products or services via phone, email, or other online channels, typically from an office-based environment. 

By following an Inside Sales strategy using a clearly defined ICP, your startup can primarily benefit from low costs (you only need access to a phone and internet connection) and the high potential for sales growth if appropriately executed.


Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy that targets select accounts with higher growth opportunities and turns them into customers through tailored marketing and sales activities. 

By following an ABM strategy focusing on your identified ICP, your startup will generate revenue more quickly than if you spread your resources across several accounts. Gaining startup marketing metrics is sometimes challenging in the early stages, and ABM is a way to see ROI. Revenue earned from ABM can be used to reach other accounts that require more complex marketing strategies, such as digital marketing.  


Insides Sales and ABM are solid strategies for many startups to follow, but they are not going to work for every early-stage company. How to determine what the best strategies are to effectively target your ICP can involve many variables, and you may want to consider asking for guidance from an experienced business professional or a startup incubator. 


Grow faster with collaborations and co-marketing.


Launching the best startup marketing campaigns on a limited budget can be done when collaborating with other businesses. Co-marketing, the sharing of audiences and resources between two complementary brands, opens up tremendous opportunities to hit marketing objectives for startups and experience overall growth.


Co-marketing helps by: 

  1. Generating more creative marketing ideas for startups
  2. Producing more premium content such as guest blogs
  3. Reaching a larger audience to attract more leads
  4. Offering a cost-effective alternative to solo marketing 


Focus on SEO to build brand awareness. 


You may have heard of Search Engine Optimization or SEO, but it can be daunting how to do SEO and see its results when you have little money to work with.

Websites constantly compete to earn top positions when content is searched for online, but it is difficult for a startup to be in the running with a limited budget.


We recommend choosing keywords that:

  1. Speak to customers that are at the bottom of the marketing funnel. In other words, they are ready to buy. Later in your marketing journey, you can expand to target leads near the top of the funnel by creating valued content.
  2. Don’t have a high number of searches every month so you are not competing with the content Goliaths of the internet. 


One of the best digital marketing tools for startups that is free is Google Trends, which can help with your SEO strategy. 


How to set your startup business up for long-term success 


If ‘how to market my startup’ was one of your most pressing thoughts before reading this blog, following our top 3 low-cost marketing strategies for startups will provide you with a starting point to begin your marketing journey.

Following low-budget marketing strategies is not meant to be sustainable for a long time but rather provide a jumping-off point to achieve larger goals.

Every startup is different with varying marketing needs especially as it grows and evolves. Finding a mentor, coach, or startup incubator program that can provide advice, support, and expertise is a great way to keep learning new knowledge and skills to set your startup up for long-term success.

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