It’s rather obvious that regulatory barriers, taxes, and legal hurdles are no friend of the aspiring entrepreneur. The challenge of creating a product or service from scratch and building a successful company from nothing is more than strenuous enough without the added burden of tax and regulatory compliance.
At best, many entrepreneurs ignore the government and operate as if it doesn’t exist; at worst, many entrepreneurs (and in some cases, rightfully so; take Uber for example) view the government as an enemy as they challenge entrenched industries and run into resistance from local governments.
However, regardless of your stance on the governments’ role within entrepreneurship ecosystems, they do in fact provide a host of resources and opportunities for startups and burgeoning entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
Adopting either of the previously-mentioned mindsets can deprive you and your company of incredibly valuable funding, networking opportunities, mentorship, and business support.
Here’s a look at three types of government resources that your startup could benefit from immensely and immediately; and you’re probably overlooking them.
Grants and Direct Funding
A 2015 study conducted by PwC reveals that close to 50 % of Canadian startups haven’t even tried applying for the billions of dollars of funding for entrepreneurs that the country offers. A ten-second Google search leads to literally hundreds of government-backed funding opportunities for startups in jurisdictions across the globe.
Whether you’re in Canada, the US, the UK, or pretty much anywhere else in the world, your jurisdiction is offering hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans that you’re not taking advantage of and should be.
The beauty of many government grants and subsidies is that more often than not there is no expectation of repayment like there is with private venture capital. As long as you use the grant for the purposes you negotiated for, that money is yours to invest in your company and you won’t have to pay a dime of it back.
Furthermore, if you met the program requirements of a particular grant once, it’s very likely that that same government program will be willing to fund you again in the future.
Business Clinics, Training, and Mentorship
Pretty much every city, province, or state in the Western hemisphere offers small business centres and support services that provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to start and grow their businesses.
Whether it’s advice and research, mentorship programs, networking events, and direct business training and clinics, these small business centers can provide tons of valuable support and practical help for your business.
Considering the fact that accessing government services and support is completely and utterly free, you literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain by tapping into the business support services that your city provides.
Connections and Networking
It’s pretty much considered cliché to talk about the importance of networking and meeting the right people for your business to grow; however, the fact is that most entrepreneurs aren’t taking advantage of the host of networking resources that their local governments provide.
Virtually every government in the Western Hemisphere has some form of agency that agency supports advanced studies, discovery research, and fosters innovation. For example, NSERC, a Canadian agency, connects companies with professors, specialized knowledge, and research services in the academic sector.
Similarly, if your startup is looking to export products to foreign markets, consider engaging with your jurisdiction’s export development agency so you can make the right connections and take your idea global.
Local government offices often host a ton of networking events and facilitate direct relationship building activities that can take your startup to the next level.
Whether it’s funding opportunities or valuable business training, governments across the globe provide hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of free value to entrepreneurs willing to access them. Don’t deprive your company of new accelerators for growth; governments are here to stay, so you might as well take full advantage of everything they’ve got to offer.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Nenad Dumanovic is the founder and principal writer of Royal Professional Business Writers, an Alberta-based writing company that provides exceptional professional business writing services. Since his company’s inception, Nenad has produced high quality, originally-researched blog posts, business plans, articles, and web content for a wide variety of businesses and entrepreneurs. He is currently the chief blogger and social media manager for Xerroworks, a Minnesota-based software development startup as well. Connect with @xerroworks on Twitter.