Let’s Talk Small Business: Q&A with Rob Lajoie of BDC

October 19, 2016
What better way to celebrate Small Business Week than speaking with the organization supporting the growth of over 42,000 small business nationwide. Rob Lajoie of BDC took the time to answer a few questions we had about his organization’s involvement with small business.

It’s BDC Small Business Week. What do you find is the biggest issue facing small businesses today?

Canadian companies lag behind their American counterparts in terms of productivity. The gap keeps getting bigger, making our businesses less competitive on the world stage. One way to reverse the trend is to encourage Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to use formal processes to improve their productivity. Our latest survey showed that less than half of Canada’s businesses formally measure their productivity. Only 6% adopt formal comprehensive metrics and compare themselves with their peers. So we can easily see that there’s room for improvement. As our President and CEO Michael Denham would say, “Productivity benchmarking is like a health check for your business. You can’t fix a problem unless you know it exists.”However, it has always been difficult for entrepreneurs to compare themselves with their peers. That’s why we developed a tool in collaboration with Statistics Canada that allows businesses to position themselves in relation to other Canadian companies in their industry. (www.bdc.ca/productivity) We truly hope that entrepreneurs throughout Manitoba and Canada will take advantage of this free tool to solidify their competitive edge.

What does BDC do to assist small businesses, and all businesses for that matter?
BDC is the only Canadian bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. We promote Canadian entrepreneurship with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With over 110 business centres from coast to coast, including two in Winnipeg, we provide businesses in all industries with financing and advisory services. Our investment arm, BDC Capital, offers equity, venture capital, and flexible growth and transition capital solutions.

What’s BDC’s biggest success story, as far as helping a business succeed?
Every morning, our 2,100 employees wake up to help entrepreneurs create value for their businesses and their communities. We know it’s not easy being an entrepreneur and we are here to help Canadian businesses be more innovative and productive, scale up, export and grow internationally.

What’s the biggest misconception about BDC?
We want more entrepreneurs to become aware of BDC’s unique role and of the services we offer. When entrepreneurs think of BDC, many of them think of financing and they are right. However, we do much more. For instance, we offer affordable advisory services to help companies address challenges such as operational efficiency, business management, technology and international growth. Also, BDC Capital is Canada’s largest and most active venture capital investor in Canada. We hope to remind entrepreneurs of the extent to which BDC’s know-how can help them succeed.

How has partnering with the Chamber helped BDC?
We always want to be closer to entrepreneurs and be easy to work with. Partnering with the Winnipeg Chamber allows us to meet with more entrepreneurs in Winnipeg and make sure that our offering is tailored to the current needs of the region. This partnership helps us take the pulse of the region, which is extremely valuable to us. Given our important purpose to help Canadian businesses become stronger and more profitable, the potential of collaboration with the Chamber is great and we look forward to taking part in more events organized by the Chamber.