Successful Entertaining in Canada

If invited to a business meal in Canada, it is most likely to be for a lunch or possibly a breakfast meeting. Although it is not unknown to be invited out for dinner, it is less common than in some other countries.

It is not really considered impolite to discuss business issues over the meal. It is relatively unusual for alcohol to be served with a meal at lunchtime.

When eating, the fork is held in the right hand and is used for eating. The knife tends to be used to cut items or spread things onto a food item. When using your knife, the fork is switched to the left hand or is laid down on the plate. When you wish to continue eating, switch your fork back to the right hand. (You can, of course, use the European style of dining, in which the knife and fork are never switched if that is what you are more comfortable with.)

Restaurants charge a Goods and Services Tax [GST] but gratuities are not included in the bill. It is expected that you leave a tip of around 15% for good service.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Canada

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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There are innumerable reasons why you should probably be doing business in Canada and they are not all related to the fact that it borders the world’s largest economy – although in itself this is quite a compelling argument.

Canada boasts an enviable combination of strong basic macro-economic fundamentals, an abundance of key natural resources, top-quality human resources and an extremely pro-business climate – all of which make the country a ‘must-explore’ market. In addition, Canada has developed one of the world’s great transportation networks and attracts some of the globe’s top talent to live and work there.

So, if you aren’t already doing business in Canada, you should probably be asking yourself ‘why not?’

However, like all countries Canada has a unique business culture and you are well advised to do some research on this before starting to develop any business ideas. One thing you really need to be clear about is that Canada is not the USA. Just because you have worked successfully with Canada’s southern neighbour does not mean you understand how business is done in Canada. Geographic and linguistic proximity rarely equate to cultural similarity and this is definitely the case with regard to the USA and Canada.

Even such basic things as approach to communication differ considerably between the USA and Canada as do approaches to meetings and decision-making. Canada is basically an egalitarian society and a pushy, abrasive attitude tends to go down quite badly with people who are taught never to speak positively about themselves.

Canada is also proudly multi-cultural – people are not thrown into a melting pot and expected to leave their cultural identity behind. Diversity is encouraged and you need to recognise that Canada is not a homogenous entity. Do some research in advance because the rewards of doing business in Canada can be significant.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Canadian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips