Helping small business compete in the digital economy

Browse creative ideas to help small businesses in Ontario succeed in an increasingly digital economy.

graph representing economic growth

View the ideas submitted to Small business

The problem

The global economy is changing, presenting new challenges and opportunities for small businesses. With the increasing popularity of online commerce and business services, small and medium-sized businesses are sometimes left behind.

These businesses play a vital role in our economy and communities.

While we’re taking steps to reduce regulatory burdens (opens in a new window) and have created funds and grants to support small business, what initiatives or projects could help main street and small businesses adopt new technologies and online services in order to compete in this new environment?

Who we're trying to help

We want to help small businesses, with fewer than 100 employees, as well as the self-employed:

  • adopt innovative technologies that help their businesses
  • compete in the digital economy
  • increase production of goods and services
  • grow their business
  • increase profits

What we're doing/have done

Business advice

We advise small businesses, through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (opens in a new window) (which includes Small Business Enterprise Centres). These centres across the province provide local advice to help you start, finance a business and commercialize your ideas. They also, help young people get entrepreneurial skills.

Reducing regulatory burdens

In 2016, we launched the Red Tape Challenge (opens in a new window), a two-year, online consultation that asks the public to help us identify and fix regulations that are unclear, outdated, redundant or unnecessarily costly for business.

So far, we’ve identified 171 actions we can take to make it easier for businesses to operate in Ontario and are taking action on:

  • 63 opportunities in the automotive parts manufacturing sector
  • 57 opportunities in the food processing sector
  • 51 opportunities in the financial services sector

Money for small businesses

We’re helping small businesses access grants and loans through the:

We’ve also created the:

The Ministry of Finance also lowered the preferential small business corporate income tax (CIT) rate (opens in a new window) from 5.5% to 4.5% to help small businesses remain competitive.

We’re updating legislation

This fall, under the proposed Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017, we are introducing changes to help build a smarter, more modern and more efficient regulatory framework. Some of the changes we’re proposing include:

  • giving businesses the option to electronically submit any required documentation to the Government of Ontario instead of more costly paper submissions
  • requiring all government ministries to offset every dollar of new administrative costs to business by removing old and unnecessary costs
  • recognizing businesses that have a good compliance record and lowering their costs by reducing the requirements, such as the number of inspections, without compromising the environment health and safety, and other protections

Develop and testing solutions

In Winter 2017, we launched the Small Business Innovation Challenge (opens in a new window) which gives small to medium size businesses an opportunity to:

  • develop, test, and demonstrate their products to help solve a real-world challenge
  • sell their solution to other global markets
  • increase their competitiveness

Helping companies grow

Ontario’s high growth companies create jobs, drive economic growth and help attract other companies to the province.

To support them, we are creating a Scale-Up Strategy to help them:

  • identify and address the specific barriers they face
  • expand domestically and internationally

To support this strategy, we will:

  • host a leadership roundtable
  • create issue-specific working groups
  • host research, and regional consultations with senior executives

Learn more

A number of government ministries are also working to help small businesses, including the:

  • Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, partnering with northerners and communities to increase economic development, innovation, collaboration and invest in infrastructure
  • Ministry of Energy, reducing hydro costs, to continue supporting small businesses
  • Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, through Employment Ontario, offers a suite of employment services and skills training programs designed to:
    • help Ontarians find a job, upgrade their skills, enrol in training, or job
    • help employers find workers with the skills they need and get support in the event of layoffs and closures
  • Ministry of Finance, cutting taxes and lowering compliance costs to encourage investment and job creation

72 ideas submitted to Small business


Vehicle rules killing small business

I remit HST on all invoices and I get HST back on products and services related to product and labour.

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Created on October 27, 2017 by Jennifer Constrction.

Bringing Young Talents and Small Businesses Together for Growth in Digital Economy

Finding and keeping the right people who can digitally transform a company is the most vital task for a business, yet it is one of the biggest challenges in the fast-changing digital economy.

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Created on October 26, 2017 by dianezhu701.

'Creative Hands'

My idea would include both small business and the seniors focus area. It would be a customized business partly funded as a small business enterprise, that would serve as income for the individuals, and or, group of people leading the service.

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Created on November 3, 2017 by Lily Pointon.

Small Business Celebration

Develop a 'travelling roadshow' aimed at small business owners. Host events in urban centres across Ontario.

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Created on November 3, 2017 by cstranak.

Office paperwork innovation

Build digital document library, including legal, contract, accounting, administration template etc.with search, upload, edit, save, download functions, anyone can upload or write a new document, anyone can also edit and improve existing documents,

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Created on October 31, 2017 by TomDocsDigital.

Olalacar - carpooling app

My idea is creating an application that help people to share their ride with others. It can starts from 10 km to unlimited. Inside the and between the cities travel options.

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Created on October 22, 2017 by Helia.

150 Years, Happy in Our Neighbourhood

There is a neighbourhood, adjacent to the London Police headquarters in London, that has a rough look. But the stores there, and the location, is interesting as can be!

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Created on October 25, 2017 by Mavis Twice.  1 comment

Digital service to launch and support a side business

Many of today's biggest businesses started out of garages and side projects. However, it's expensive to launch a side business, which means we're missing out on some businesses.

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Created on November 1, 2017 by p.

Euro style pedestrian only areas

There's a great video on youtube by Vox that explains how Barcelona's "super blocks" improve commerce, reduce pollution, and increase pedestrian safety.

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Created on October 23, 2017 by TGJ.

Minimum work hours for people under 18.

During peak hours employers should be able to bring under 18 year old employees help for a minimum of 2 hours instead of the required 3. I.e. for dinner rush at a restaurant 6 to 8 to combat a high minimum wage and low staffing levels.

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Created on October 24, 2017 by Lucwarmie.