Brazil & Canada: Differences in the business environment

External aspects

by Marcelo Andrade | Published 30/01/2019

Most people believe that if they have the right business contacts, and the right resources (“how-to information”), then a successful business in Canada would follow. Sadly, evidence shows that success does not materialize in the vast majority of cases. But those few who do achieve success seem to navigate two sets of differences in the business environment. We will cover specifically the external aspects (outside the company) that make conducting business in Brazil very different from conducting business in Canada.

Brazilian Business Environment

The operational environment in Brazil can be very difficult. It’s not easy to build high-quality solutions for clients. Businesses have to face significant operational and bureaucratic challenges, like understanding and dealing with taxes, access to talent, unclear rules that change often or challenging labour regulations, among others.

However, once businesses overcome the obstacles, competition is usually not their main concern. All those bureaucratic obstacles mean that a lot of other businesses did not have the same ability to overcome them, and few companies are left in the market to compete at the same level of competence.

Once operational challenges are overcome, the business will probably do well, with a solid reputation and won’t have a lot of difficulty in finding buyers. Although there will still be the need to deal with possible issues in the economic environment, differentiating your business from everybody else won’t be the biggest challenge.

Canadian Challenges

In Canada, evidence shows the opposite. Operating a business is quite easy, in the sense that there are a lot of resources available to offer high-quality solutions to the market.

Corporate taxes are low, rules and regulations are clear, things are usually simple to handle and to understand. Access to abundant talent and a favourable operational environment are always helping you move ahead.

The problem is that it is favourable to every company, including your competitors. Which means selling and competing is much harder in Canada than in Brazil.

You sell in Brazil based on your reputation, on your company’s history and the quality of your solutions. But none of these is a differentiating factor in Canada, where every business is expected to have a good reputation and offer good quality solutions to the market.

What successful companies do

In order to grab and keep the attention of your potential client, you need to understand them deeply. And you need to understand, more specifically, what it is that you offer that would be more favourable to your client, compared to what everybody else has to offer. This means that to sell in Canada, understanding your client is at least as important as understanding your own solutions.

Canadian companies don’t buy from you because what you offer is better. They buy from you when you understand specifically which problem they have, and are able to show them that your solution solves that problem better than what everyone else offers.

This concept is certainly simple to grasp but can be very hard to implement by Brazilian businesses.

Marcelo Andrade

Marcelo Andrade is the founder of Lucalex, a Toronto-based company founded in 2012 to structure business opportunities in Brazil and Canada. Contact information:

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