What's Stopping You From Going Global?

Survey finds that Canadian businesses stumble when they try to innovate in order to expand globally

Written by Mira Shenker

Canadian companies that focus on expanding into markets outside of North America—and orient their innovation efforts to compete globally—reap the best bottom-line results, says a new survey from the Conference Board of Canada. But only about one-sixth of Canadian firms adopt an innovation strategy that focuses on competing in international markets.

According to the 2012 Survey Findings: The State of Firm-Level Innovation in Canada, published by The Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Business Innovation, expanding to provide products and services to new international markets can earn Canadian firms between 10 and 30% more net income than their counterparts using other approaches.

Despite this, few Canadians adopt this innovation strategy. “Most Canadian firms prefer to operate within provincial or national borders€“or in North America€“ rather than competing in international markets,” says Bruce Good, executive director of the Centre for Business Innovation.

According to the Conference Board survey, funding is a major barrier for most businesses looking to innovate. Internal cash is currently the source of innovation funding most used by Canadian firms, ahead of government financing, private equity and bank financing.

But survey respondents also named organizational culture, poor innovation training, fear of risk and lack of executive focus as top barriers.

In a recent episode of the PROFIT BusinessCast, Gary Goodyear, federal minister of state for science and technology, lamented the poor state of innovation among Canadian businesses of all kinds, saying Canadians are too afraid of failure.

Maybe they need to take a lesson from tech entrepreneurs like Meli, who attack the global market from the start.

Are you struggling to break into the global market? Follow this playbook to make your startup export-ready from the beginning.

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