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Business in Canada is the same as in the US, only different March 23, 2010

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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I attended a presentation today that focused on doing business across the border with our neighbors to the north, Canada. Actually, the speakers discussed doing business in both the US and Canada.  The presentation today was another is a series provided by a local group called Digital Rochester (DR). The DR group is self-described as a community of technology professionals and entrepreneurs in Upstate NY. I enjoy their events and also the networking before and after the formal part of the agenda. For those in Rochester, consider joining DR if you have not so already.

Thinking about expanding your business north of the border? Better do your homework and connect with a local company.

The full agenda is listed on the current Knowledge Upgrade page on the DR site. Selected aspects of working in Canada mentioned today include :

Geography is more important than language. It is no surprise, then, that the golden triangle in Canada includes Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

There is a high degree of market concentration with few secondary markets. Metro areas listed above are the major ones along with Vancouver in B.C.. But, the other cities are considered secondary.

Canadians prefer to purchase from Canadian companies. If you partner with a company similar to yours as a VAR, your chances are greater for success. Also, your expenses are lower with that partnership.

Most Canadian companies (approx. 98%) have fewer than 50 employees. Sounds a lot like Rochester.

Marketing costs are 3X higher than product development costs.

Sales cycles are longer than in the U.S. Decisions are made faster in the U.S. – adjust for that.

Canada’s government is a lead adopter of technology.

Canadians prefer to purchase from Canadian companies. If you partner with a company similar to yours as a VAR, your chances are greater for success. Also, your expenses are lower with that partnership.

Connect with resources on both sides to assist expanding your business into the other side of the border. While there are many similarities to the U.S. and Canada, you need to understand the differences in order to be successful working in Canada. Canadians are friendly , have an open door and are readily available to talk about doing business with us. Use the resources on both sides of the border – you don’t have to go it alone.

The US government has offices in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse to assist with getting doing business in Canada. Check their export focused site for some of the resources along with contact information. They can help with market research, connect you with target companies and in some cases, provide translation services.

I hope this terse overview gives you an idea of how doing business with Canadian companies is like those in the U.S., only different. Happy exporting!

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