Letter from North America: Enterprise alive and well between country cousins
'Tis the season to be entrepreneurial. In fact this is the one time of year when being an entrepreneur is celebrated, at least in the UK.
Just last week another Enterprise Week celebrated everything entrepreneurial, and recently the final deadline came and went for nominations for the Queen's Awards for Enterprise to honour individuals who have made a difference to boosting the idea of enterprise and entre- preneurship.
Perhaps that's why I have been hearing here on Toronto radio stations an increase in the number of advertisements for Canadian entrepreneurs to do business in the UK.
It's a call I have heard before - and it surprised me the first time because ads on mainstream radio stations seemed an odd way of attracting enterprising people. But attracting entrepreneurs is a competitive business.
According to Canadian government statistics, trade relations between Canada and the UK reached an all-time high in 2006, making the UK Canada's most important commercial partner in Europe and ranking second only to the US globally.
In bottom line terms, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and the UK reached almost $$21bn in 2006, with two- way investment stocks totalling $$98bn.
The UK accounted for $$10.1bn of exports from Canada, with gold, uranium and nickel - together with higher exports of aircraft and telecommunications equipment - sitting high on the list.
The UK ranks second in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Canada, valued at $$39bn in 2006, up 29.9% on the previous year.
The UK is also the second largest destination of Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA), valued at $$59bn (11.3% of the global total), up 20.7% on 2005, positioning Canada as the third largest investor in the UK, following the US and France.
No wonder the ads trying to attract even more Canadian businesses into the UK seem to be on the rise.
But there are also all sorts of resources for those in GB and Northern Ireland who are looking to expand their markets and export to North America, particularly Canada.
The website www.uktradein vestcanada.org, for example, is run by UK Trade and Investment which has offices across Canada dedicated to helping UK businesses export here and to help Canadian companies set up in, or export to, the UK.
Invest NI also frequently organises trade missions to North America, including Canadian and American destinations.
In addition it helps to organise businesses with group trade stands at trade fairs - designed to defray the costs of attending trade shows individually.
The guidelines are all available on www.investni.com.
Another handy site is www. nibusinessinfo.co.uk, which offers practical information about exports to Canada.
It includes where you can get financial support, case studies from companies exporting to Canada, plus basic planning and whether your product or service is viable as an export.
The site also looks at exporting to other countries, detailing cultural, regulatory, taxation and market differences clearly.
Another good site for potential Northern Ireland exporters is www.pwgsc.gc.ca - run by the government of Canada. It details how companies can sell their products and services to the Canadian government.
It would be a natural way to expand a business and one way of turning the reliance of Northern Ireland companies on the public sector into a gateway to becoming more entrepreneurial.
So for those entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland looking for innovative ways to celebrate enterprise and entrepreneurship, there are lots of resources to help them expand their business.