By Luc Ménard, Executive Vice-President, Managing Director and Head of Private Investments at National Bank
Small and medium business owner in Quebec, this message is for you. According to the latest statistics from 2019*, Quebec has a total of 255,947 companies with at least one employee. Of those, 254,645 are SMEs. Your strength in number means that you will be a major vector in the economic recovery in Quebec, as long as you innovate and take advantage of all the growth opportunities.
The last few months are a testament to your resilience and your ability to reinvent yourselves. We can state without a doubt that you’ve demonstrated innovation and creativity. As we slowly return to normalcy, it’s time for you to think about what comes next.
My hope is that you build on your momentum and think outside the box. Right now, you can create partnerships with bigger or smaller businesses than your own to gain new knowledge and share your expertise.
On a larger scale, let’s look at Hydro-Québec, for example, who recently formed a strategic partnership with Innergex, a diversified company operating in the field of renewable energy. This major government corporation will share its expertise, its reputation and its solid financial situation, whereas Innergex will bring an entrepreneurial culture, its expertise in wind and solar power development, agility, and its knowledge of foreign markets. This strategic alliance will allow both partners to seize development opportunities and grow in the sector of renewable energy.
You don’t have to be a large business to create these kinds of partnerships. A medium business could very well benefit from an alliance with a startup and vice versa. It’s up to us to generate these kinds of partnerships in order to collectively create more value for all stakeholders.
Whether it’s a partnership, a merger or an acquisition, the important thing is to build relationships in order to become more competitive and generate business opportunities and income. Basically, the idea is to greater wealth for both parties.
Another kind of partnership to focus on is one with investors who can
contribute much more than just money. Their network of contacts is
well established, they have teams of experts across several fields,
and their guidance and advice can make a big difference in growing
Financial institutions also need to invest in local businesses. They can stimulate growth and transformation all while putting their expertise to good use. That’s what we decided to do at National Bank by creating the $200M SME growth fund in partnership with the government of Quebec. We want to have a positive impact on the development of small businesses and help boost the economy.
To stay competitive, innovation will be the key to your success. We’re lucky to have access to applied research centres, highly competent universities, and government programs to help implement new technology. It’s in your best interest to use all these resources so you can help your business transform or grow.
For many people, innovation is often synonymous with digital transformation. While 2020 led many of you to go digital, many others are still reluctant to dive in. Admittedly, digital transformation is often a long and winding road. But this kind of transformation has never been so crucial for keeping your employees motivated, communicating via social media, selling your products and services online, improving your operational efficiency, and securing your data and those of your clients. Going digital will help ensure that your business endures.
We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the local economy. Consumers are also ready to support local businesses. Together, we can take part in growing our economy.
We have so much skill, knowledge and technology in Quebec. You can have success locally, then export your expertise outside the country. We have an active local market that will allow you to grow right here.
More than ever, it’s important to support our businesses, our jobs and our headquarters.
There are many large businesses of tomorrow hiding among our great SMEs. I hope that we – entrepreneurs, financial institutions and government bodies alike – can all work hand in hand so more and more of you can conquer the rest of the world, all while prospering in Quebec.
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