Ontario Small Business Digitization Assistance
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce recently published Broken Link: Driving Technology Adoption within Ontario’s Small Businesses, a report on the state of small business digitization. The report details the resources available for small businesses that wish to digitize as well as their recommendations for policy updates to further assist these businesses. As more people used the internet to access shops and services throughout the pandemic, small businesses that were traditionally brick and mortar saw an unfortunate decrease in their activity as large businesses that were already prepared for e-commerce saw an increase in activity. This effort to help small businesses that want to digitize is an important step in ensuring that small businesses remain competitive in a landscape dominated by large companies.
For small businesses in Ontario, the main barriers to digital adoption seem to be limited access to resources, limited access to skills, and limited access to internet infrastructure. 51% of small businesses reported that they are unable to adopt new technologies because the capital required is too high, 42% reported that they lacked access to skilled workers that understand the technology, and 35% said that they simply don’t have access to the broadband internet that is required to digitize. While there are Provincial and Federal programs in place to help with these issues, more needs to be done if we want small businesses to adopt more modern technology.
The main recommendations put forward by this report are as follows:
- Allow non-profit organizations to apply for the grants and programs offered to other small businesses
- Make it easier for small businesses to access digitization supports by reducing administrative burdens
- Improve access to private capital and credit for small businesses through the use of tax incentives or loan guarantees
- Develop training programs for small business owners and their employees
- Ensure that the training programs are accessible and inclusive
- Expand work-integrated learning programs and introduce incentives for smaller employers to participate in them
To view the full report as well as to see what digitization programs are already available, please visit: https://occ.ca/wp-content/uploads/Broken-Links-Driving-Technology-Adoption-within-Ontarios-Small-Businesses.pdf