Financial literacy committee sets sights on entrepreneurs

The entrepreneurial spirit is often alit with an idea, a nucleus of innovation that twirls and attracts the building blocks necessary to grow into a startup.

But creativity and innovation can be at odds with the gritty financial mechanics necessary to foster true entrepreneurial growth.

Maybe that’s why 83 percent of Canadian small business owners only have a basic or lower grasp of financial fundamentals, according to a study by Intuit Canada — the maker of solutions for small businesses like QuickBooks and TurboTax.

“A lot of entrepreneurs getting started in business haven’t taken accounting 101,” said Rick Spence, president of Canadian Entrepreneur Communications, at the Friday launch of Startup Canada’s Task Force Financial Literacy Committee. “Canada’s no worse at this then any other country but I think that we all know that if we can boost financial literacy, we’d have a sustainable, competitive, non-tariff advantage over competing nations and that’s something we could sustain for generations.”

The committee — which includes members of Startup Canada, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and Intuit — is hoping to build out a toolkit geared towards entrepreneurs that struggle with basics like balancing cash flow and sales forecasting and more advanced small business accounting.

“It’s about trying to bring together the ecosystem so we have the right policies and support in place to be able to help entrepreneurs,” said Laura O’Blenis, chair of the Startup Canada Task Force.

“Entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas and a lot of strengths when it comes to building great products and services and identifying niche opportunities — but they can’t be good at everything.”

Group brainstorming sessions at the launch laid the groundwork for the task force, tossing out ideas like financial literacy surveys and apps that send business accounting reminders to engage entrepreneurs and help decode the daunting world of small business accounting.

The event piggybacked the Conservative Government’s recent appointment of Jane Rooney as the country’s first-ever financial literacy leader.

At the launch, Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson pointed out the parallels between individual financial literacy and solo-run businesses, which account for 1.3 million of the country’s 2.4 million businesses according to Stats Canada.

“Having the knowledge the skills and the confidence to make responsible financial decisions is not just for the well being of our individuals,” said Sorenson. “It’s also important for the prosperity of the entire economy across the country.”