Written by Vanessa Francone
A couple weeks ago, we were visited by a group of entrepreneurs from Brazil and Next Level Startups to tour the LIZ and get a feel for Canada since they are looking to expand their business here. We thought, who better to ask to give a presentation than our very own Legalbox. We mentioned Legalbox in another post as entrepreneurs from Brazil who moved here just over a year ago to start their business. Below we’ll go in depth and discuss what five things, as new immigrants and entrepreneurs to Canada, they wish they knew before arriving in Canada.
Please note: These tips are based on experiences from our Legalbox entrepreneurs when they came to Canada from Brazil. Some tips may be relevant to entrepreneurs from other countries, and some may not be.
Cross border thinking
The way you think in your home country may be different from that of Canada. Canada’s population is six times lower than that of Brazil, so small to medium-sized businesses there never think about selling to countries abroad. They focus on their own population. However, it’s a necessity when in Canada, especially if your business is B2C. This means understanding the different currencies and bureaucracies in the countries you sell to in a foreign market.
Beyond the tech
Some entrepreneurs may automatically assume that North America is ahead when it comes to technology or that they will face more hi-tech solutions. This is not necessarily the case, as Brazil in many ways is on par when it comes to tech. What’s different between the countries is the clients. Canadian clients are focused on the how’s, why’s and the ultimate process behind your business goals. In Brazil, clients just want the job done and are not as concerned with the “how.” Catering to the needs of Canadian clients and investors while showing them how your product works is important.
Narrow down, specialize
Don’t try to complete everything all at once! Nor claim to be able to complete everything. In Brazil, being flexible and multi-talented is a good quality. Businesses are proud to be full service and able to do anything. Here in Canada, Legalbox noticed it’s better if you are specialized. If you show you do everything, you lack focus. But if you promote one thing, it shows you can do it very well.
It’s exactly as it sounds. Every country has its own taxes so knowing how to file everything is extremely important. You have enough to deal with by being in a new country, so do your research and speak with consultants. You wouldn’t want to get double taxed.
Off and on seasons differ in countries around the world. Although you should be hustling all the time, know when the business peaks for you and your audience and be ready to hustle then! In Brazil, businesses sell in the same way all year – no “summer season”! But in Canada, there are generally slower times for business (like August) in which businesses slow down.
Also, when signing on a client, the process is slower here than in Brazil. On average, it takes two months to onboard a client in Brazil. In Canada, Legalbox found the process four times slower. Be prepared to make more time and negotiation for clients, and have revenue coming in at a slower pace.