We’ve reached the final instalment in our four-part series on how to start and grow your publishing business. Here, we will review some of the current (as of 2023) and ongoing government services available to publishers in Canada and most provinces.
Before we start, a few things to keep in mind:
Many of these programs are subject to ongoing funding and may or may not continue to be available. Make sure you jump on one if it fits your needs, as government funding changes around a lot. One day it’s there and the next it’s closed! Be sure not to miss important deadlines.
The best time of year to check on new funding programs for business is February and March as well as April and May. These are key fiscal months wherein either a government realizes they are underspent and need to create programming to support and use the allocated funds, or they are at the beginning of their fiscal year and introducing new programming.
You will also need to consider the structure of your business. This brings back a conversation from our first post. Will you register your business and receive a business number? Or will you choose not to (if you’re earning less than $30K in annual gross revenues in Canadian royalties)? Most, if not all, government programs require you to operate with a business number. Getting this number is quick and easy and as a sole proprietor, is only $49-60 CAD. If you are interested in receiving grant funds, this is well worth the investment!
You may also find some programs require you to have anywhere from one to ninety-nine employees on payroll. Don’t be discouraged! Many government programs consider you, the owner, that one employee. Make sure you read the fine print before you dismiss the program or grant entirely.
Okay, let’s dive in!
Due to the regional nature of many of these projects, I’ll start with introducing you to your best Canada-wide resource: The Business Benefits Finder.
The Business Benefits Finder
This is a federal resource that has gathered all government supports from across the country and housed them online in one space. It’s regularly updated and will contain provincial and federal programs, including grants and loans. All you need to do is input your specifications and it will filter out programs that don’t apply to you so all that you’re left with are potential projects with funding or mentorship available for your business.
Keep this resource bookmarked and note in your calendar to check it quarterly.
Small Business Enterprise Centres
This is a provincially funded program, but most provinces offer a variation of it. The services from these centres are free and for anyone looking to start or grow their small business or gain insights into maintaining an established business. You can find advisors who can help you register your business, create a business plan, access grants and funding, or work through your business challenges with you. To find one near you, simply search using the keywords ‘Small Business Enterprise Centre’ and your province.
If you happen to be reading this and operate your business in the US, these exist there as well!
These centres also often run start-up grant programs that offer both education and micro-grants for business owners. However, these are year to year and not consistently available.
The CDAP (Canadian Digital Adoption Program) is micro grant is available to all registered businesses with one or more employees and will offer you up to $2300 in granted funds to upgrade your digital presence. This could be used on websites, ads, social media management or more. There isn’t a general link, so I suggest searching for CDAP and your location and apply this way.
If you are located in Ontario, there is a grant that duplicates the CDAP grant with provincial funds in the amount of $2500 dollars called Digital Mainstreet with the same digital growth parameters. You can stack this with the CDAP grant to total $4800 in granted funds. You can find more information on this grant and how to apply for it here.
Finally, also for Ontarians, if you’re looking at exploring direct selling using Shopify, there is a provincial grant called ShopHere that will match you with a Google-hired website builder who will build your Shopify site for you. You’ll also get three free months of Shopify to test it to see if you like it. Go here for more info.
Should you be interested in hiring a part-time or full-time employee, there are provincial grants that can help you support your payroll investment for the first few pay cycles while you test your employee.
Federally, each December, you can also apply for the Canada Summer Jobs Grant to hire a post-secondary student in a role that matches their skillset. This grant pays a percentage of their wage for 6-12 weeks of employment. These programs must have a payroll component to qualify, but they can support part-time hours. Again, you can find more info regionally via the benefits finder or by searching employment grant and your location.
There are currently no federal grant programs open that writers/publishers would qualify for, however, there are a few projects for women and BIPOC business owners being developed.
Don’t forget to keep checking the Business Benefits Finder to apply for these programs should they develop to the point of being funded.
If you’ve been publishing for more than two years and have a profitable business, there are many lending institutes that will consider your application for growth funding should your plan successfully outline your need and that need fits with the lender’s vision and portfolio. This is why having a business plan at the ready is always a great idea.
If you’re under the age of 39 and are starting or growing a new publishing business, you can source funds from a company called Futurpreneur. They lend small amounts to new businesses owned by young professionals at great interest rates and provide mentorship and vast resources.
They’re my favourite resource centre for learning how to write business plans and understand cash flow statements and the resources are for anyone, not just clients. And they’re free!
If you’re selling direct, I’d highly recommend opening a commercial bank account with a traditional bank or credit union. This will allow you to apply for funds to support your growth, travel and give you access to payment processing power while travelling to meet readers at conferences.
You can also pay your government taxes via these accounts and have access to professionals who can help advise you on the financial needs of your growing company.
Traditional banks can also provide you with a line of credit or use your publishing income as support for a mortgage. They will offer the most amount of flexibility in lended funds.
There are many different programs available to publishers such as yourself. Don’t count yourself out on them just because you may not be running a registered business. Many resources are available to you without being registered with the government, but should you want to register to receive funding, it’s affordable and quite easy.
As a final resource, I’m a big fan of a company called Ownr. Ownr offers discounts on your business registration with your province or the incorporation of your company but are also an incredible resource on grants, lended funds and private programming for business owners in the publishing industry. I highly recommend at least getting on their newsletter list.
In conclusion, don’t forget to keep an eye on the Business Benefits Finder and reach out to your local small business enterprise centre. You’ll find invaluable resources and potentially a little bit of free money to grow with.
We hope that this series on starting your publishing business has inspired you to get your business plans in order and to take action on these exciting aspects of being an independent author!
Take a look at our previous articles in this series for a quick refresher:
- So You’ve Published a Book… Now What?
- Scaling Your Self-Publishing Business
- Investing in Your Future as an Author
Holly Darling – Owner, Holly Darling HQ – Email Marketing Consulting
Contemporary Romance Writer – Holly Mortimer
Holly Darling is the owner of Holly Darling HQ, a business that focuses on helping authors create and implement their email marketing and business strategies to sell more books and build their brand loyalty. She has worked with creative business owners for the past ten years, helping them grow a business that is data-driven and automated, allowing them to spend more time on writing their books while easily implementing their business plan.
She has appeared on multiple author-focused podcasts, delivered multiple workshops on email marketing and automation at over fifty conferences and appeared on Canadian news channels as a creative entrepreneurship expert.
She is also a self-published contemporary romance author under the pen name Holly Mortimer, and she’s turned her passion for travel into a romance brand that transports readers around the world discovering love inside their favourite travel destinations.