Accessing Government Grants or Loans for Business Start-Up – Part 5 – Know Your Environment

Accessing Government Grants or Loans for Business Start-Up – Part 5 – Know Your Environment

When applying to government departments and agencies, for financial assistance, it is very important to be cognizant of the environment in which you are operating. Although there are some similarities, it is not at all like dealing with a bank (some may say that is a good thing). Here are some of the important things to keep in mind:

Political Environment

All government departments have political masters i.e. Ministers. This means that there are political considerations involved with much of the decision making that takes place. Don’t misinterpret my meaning here. I am not referring to political interference. I can quite honestly say that in my years of experience within the public sector I saw no evidence of political interference. I am referring to legitimate political considerations such as:

• each constituency being treated equitably with regard to budgetary allocations,

• elected officials being involved and informed as to what is happening in their riding,

• the potential for controversy involved with any funding decision.

For these reasons and more, politicians are more than pleased to lend their support to proposals provided of course they otherwise make sense. As an applicant you should therefore seek the written support from your provincial and federal representative. This not only lends credence to you proposal but it may also expedite the assessment process. This is why our “Business Guide to Government Programs” (one final plug) provides complete contact information for all provincial and federal elected officials. If you are going to apply for government financial assistance, ask them for their support. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Bureaucratic Environment

Always remember you are dealing with bureaucrats and as in any bureaucracy, the wheels can only turn so fast. There are usually several individuals involved with making funding decisions. This is done to protect the public purse. Whatever you do, don’t let this frustrate you or if it does, don’t take it out on the person with whom you are dealing. Public servants have had a rough ride over the last several years. It has become politically popular to downsize and to ask those remaining to do more with less. Most haven’t had a salary increment in years and despite the public perception, most civil servants are hardworking conscientious individuals. The bottom line here is, treat them, as you should anyone, with dignity and respect. It will make the whole application process a lot less painful and hopefully more fruitful.