“Heroic acts sometimes begin in heated debate and the road there is never easy. And although a team of dedicated people will come forward to help and support, there is always an emotional centre, a rock. Such cases are seen in people like Elizabeth Cromwell of Birchtown and the Black Loyalist Heritage Society. We are seeing this now with Startup Canada and the movement it has generated. This vision has never been more urgent, more innovative, and more forward looking than it is right now.” Rustum Southwell, Founding CEO of Black Business Initiative, Halifax, NS, March 19, 2012.
Canadian entrepreneurs believe that Canada needs to come together with a common vision and strategy – a new understanding between individuals, businesses, education and government – whereby we are all playing by the same playbook and Canadian entrepreneurs are empowered to climb into the driver’s seat.
As a vast, diverse and highly fragmented country, we are united in our desire to safeguard our quality of life, create healthy and sustainable communities, and secure our prosperity.
To start up Canada, we need to not only to shift our culture to one where entrepreneurship is celebrated and supported, but we must also create a national network based on grassroots communities, led by entrepreneurs themselves, to form the groundwork for an intensely connected and collaborative social network. Much of what we need – mentorship, networking, new learning, capital, people, markets and suppliers – comes from this network. This is particularly critical outside of Canada’s major cities.
We do not need to start from scratch. We have excellent best practices, a community of champions and catalysts and national, provincial and local partners that can constitute this network. This network should be based on shared values and leverage what already exists. It should work as a connector, enabler and communicator, always accountable and adapting to the needs and priorities of Canadian entrepreneurs.
This summary of the thousands of conversations coming out of a six-month national Tour provides a menu of observations and ideas. As the largest and most extensive entrepreneurial consultation in Canadian history, the magnitude of this effort cannot be dismissed and action is imperative.
It is daunting, it is messy, and we might not know how we are going to get there. This is the nature of entrepreneurship. We just need to start with a single step. It will require unrelenting effort, patience, persistence and all of us pulling together in the same direction. But for Canadian entrepreneurs, no challenge is too big.
Welcome to the next era of Canadian nation building.
Welcome to Startup Canada, where it’s good to dream big.