About The Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs
What types of service can I expect to receive from a ONE centre?
ONE Centre experts will listen to your questions and help you find the programs, services and other supports best suited to your needs.
What will it cost me to use a centre?
The advisory services offered by the centres are free of charge. Some financing programs may require a client to invest a certain amount as a condition of receiving program money. Some seminars and events may be offered for a minimal fee.
With so many programs and services out there, how do I know that by contacting a centre I am getting the best advice possible?
The Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs was created to bring together the various resources for entrepreneurs, so you don’t have to search. The less time you spend finding and accessing programs and services, the more you can focus on “the business of running a business”.
What kind of qualifications do the people at the ONE Centres have to help my business or idea succeed?
The centres’ teams are trained to assess your situation and connect you with expert support. For example, if you are looking to commercialize new research or technology, you might be connected with experienced entrepreneurs who are knowledgeable in your field.
Starting a Business
What’s involved in starting a business?
Three common ways to launch a business are to start one from scratch, buy an existing company, or buy a franchise. These appeal to different people for a variety of reasons, and the consultant at your local ONE Centre can tell you more.
If you decide to start your own business, here are the general steps you will follow:
- Develop your idea
- Determine feasibility
- Research your consumers, competition, market and industry
- Develop your business plan
- Arrange financing
- Obtain registrations and licenses
- Put your business plan into action
Do I really need a business plan?
Yes! Remember the well-known saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". Your business plan is your blueprint for success. It sets out your goals, how you intend to achieve them, what the risks are and how you will overcome them. Also, you’ll need a business plan to access financing from banks or government programs.
I just made a new discovery. How do I turn it into a business?
ONE Centres are staffed by tech-savvy advisors and mentors who help researchers, entrepreneurs and business leaders commercialize new ideas and build innovative businesses. They can connect you with:
- Ontario research institutions, for assistance with technical problem-solving, research and development, and the development of prototypes and/or new products
- Courses and networking opportunities to develop your entrepreneurial expertise
- Financing programs and opportunities with potential investors to get you through the critical early growth stage
- Information that will help you get your product or service into new markets
How will Ontario help me start my business?
Ontario offers many services to help your business succeed.
If you plan to open a business in your community, your local ONE Centre can help with a free review of your business plan and one-on-one consultations before and during your launch. These centres host events and seminars too. Enter your postal code for the location of the centre nearest you.
Ontario also has specific services for you if your business will be based on commercializing new research or technology.
I need to solve a research/technology problem before I can start my business. How do I find someone to help me?
Connecting with an advisor or mentor through a ONE Centre is the first step to overcoming your research/technology problem. Our advisors and mentors can put you in touch with whoever is best placed to help you, including members of the academic research community.
Growing Your Business
I want to work directly with a consultant who can help me grow my business, someone with access to exporting information, market development and financing alternatives. How can Ontario help me?
Within the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs there are regional consultants who work closely with established small and medium-sized growth oriented companies, providing information and advice to assist your firm grow.
I want to start exporting my product or service. How can Ontario help me?
Whether your goal is to begin exporting or to grow your exporting business, Ontario can help. ONE Centre experts will consult with you and help you access export development programs and services for small- and medium-sized enterprises offered by the Ontario and Federal governments.
ONE also works with Ontario Exports, which has trade specialists who help small and medium-sized companies identify export markets and opportunities and develop market access and expansion strategies.
I read that Ontario offers special services for “high growth companies”. What are these services and how do I know if my company qualifies?
Within the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs there are regional consultants who work with companies that are achieving or are aspiring to high growth. “High growth” generally applies to established firms with more than ten employees with a product or service that is suitable for export. Along with tailored programs and events, services include specialized support for:
- Marketing – domestic and export
- Strategic planning
- Increasing productivity and efficiency
- Enhancing business sustainability
- Obtaining financing for capital investment
- Obtaining financing to enhance working capital position
- Finding alternative debt and equity
- Human resources – staffing, skills training or upgrading
Financing Your Business
Will the government give me money to start my business?
Both the provincial and federal governments offer limited financing programs. Most involve loans – as opposed to outright grants – and many target specific industries, regions or groups of entrepreneurs (such as youth, people with disabilities, newcomers). Both federal and provincial programs are listed here.
If the government won’t give me money, what other options do I have?
There are other sources of financing such as friends/family, financial institutions, Community Futures Development Corporations, and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Your local ONE Centre can help you assess your options.
The Angel Network Program, administered by the Network of Angel Organizations–Ontario, connects high-potential entrepreneurs with angel investors. The experts at Ontario’s ONE Centres can help you find types of financing you are eligible for and can help you prepare a solid business case – with a strong business plan, go-to-market strategy and pitch.
Research and Development
I need to solve a research/technology problem in my business. How do I find someone to help me?
Ontario offers several programs that connect businesses with college and university students who can help with problem-solving. Other programs help companies hire recent graduates to work in R&D and provide work experience to students in science, engineering and other technical programs.