Why Vancouver is the Place to Live and Work

Another study ranked Vancouver as a desirable city to live in, but had little to say about what it’s like to do business in the city.

Why Vancouver is the Place to Live and Work

Posted Wednesday March 30th, 2016 by in Fun + Personal.

The Quirks of Doing Business in Vancouver

Last month yet another study ranked Vancouver among the most desirable cities to live. The study looked at quality of life and stability of civic institutions, but had little to say about what it’s like to do business in Vancouver.

Having grown up in Vancouver, traveled extensively and lived abroad for several years, I’ve personally found diverse reactions regarding Vancouver and doing business here. These include the common barbs about it being a cliquey city where it’s hard to meet people and the perception that we’re all lazy, tree-hugging hippies. Vancouverites are definitely passionate about nature, but we’re definitely not lazy nor unfriendly.

In many ways the variety of reactions is a reflection of Vancouver’s multi-faceted nature and rapid emergence as a global city. Doing business here means embracing the diversity and accepting the quirks — embrace the laid-back pace, you’ll be less stressed and more productive. Understanding how Vancouver has evolved over the last few decades is crucial to understanding its business environment. Over the last 30 years, the city’s population has doubled. People have immigrated here from around the world, bringing their own ideas about how to do business to Vancouver's historically compact business community.

Vancouver’s Competitive Advantages

That Vancouver has some quirks doesn’t make it any different from any other city, and the upside to doing business here is huge. Besides being a great place to live, Vancouver is Canada’s gateway to Asia and the Pacific — one in every five dollars of Canadian trade flows through Port Metro Vancouver. The city has vibrant hubs of tech, apparel, professional services, it’s a major centre of film and TV production, and it’s the stepping-off point for much of BC’s $14 billion tourism sector. These characteristics were key factors in GEMs choice to set up an office on the West Coast.

Here are some tips from resident Vancouverites:

  1. Take some time to understand the culture of the city and business you want to work with. Because many Vancouverites have emigrated here from around the world, they have brought some of their own business customs with them. Understanding and being sensitive to different ways of doing business will go a long way.
  2. Despite more giants, such as Microsoft, setting up offices here, Vancouver remains a city of small businesses. These entrepreneurs have so much invested in their companies that it tends to take them a little more time to commit to a big spend. Make sure you understand this and build that relationship and make them want to work with you.
  3. This leads us to the most important consideration: relationship building. Like anywhere in the world, Vancouverites will do business with those they know, like and trust. If you want to meet and get to know us the people behind Vancouver companies, join an organization like the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. GVBOT is set up specifically to connect and help foster meaningful relationships between businesses, and to advocate for their needs in the region. Joining GVBOT was one of the first things GEM did when we opened in Vancouver. Membership has been a great resource and the events are excellent places to meet new contacts.

At the end of the day, simply take the time to get to know Vancouver’s business community. We’re as vibrant and exciting as the spectacular setting in which we live.


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