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What Canadians really think of small biz

Entrepreneurs are getting a lot of respect, but are they getting enough support?


MISSISSAUGA—Small business owners are the second most respected professionals in Canada, according to a new survey the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and technology companies HP Canada and Intel Canada.

A whopping 94 per cent of Canadians said they admire entrepreneurs—only farmers were more respected.

It also found that 98 per cent consider small business to be an important part of Canada’s future. On a smaller scale, 94 per cent said small business is crucial to their community.

“Providing employment locally, meeting the unique needs of the community, and donating goods and services are top ways they contribute,” says Doug Bruce, vice-president of research with CFIB.

Respondents also valued the products, services and personal attention they get from small businesses.

While Canadians have a lot of respect for entrepreneurs, not everyone would want to assume the role.

More than half said they wouldn’t go into business for themselves because of a lack of money. Other reasons included the level of risk involved and uncertainty about success.

Canadians also felt there wasn’t enough support for the profession, with 83 per cent who said governments undervalue entrepreneurs.

What does small business think?

Undervalued or not, it’s not stopping Canadian entrepreneurs, according to a separate survey of entrepreneurs.

It found 69 per cent of less-established small businesses are planning to increase operations in the next three years.

Technology is playing a key role in those plans; 43 per cent are increasing investment in technology to achieve business goals.

Of those who had invested, 81 per cent said the technology matched or exceeded expectations.

Small businesses also revealed that their top operating challenge is competition, tied with regulation and paper burden at 39 per cent.

When asked why they started their own business, 60 per cent of owners said it was to be their own boss. Others saw it as an opportunity to make better use of their skills and knowledge (37 per cent), some did it to create more flexibility in their schedule (30 per cent) or for a financial opportunity (30 per cent).

Employees of small businesses said they chose to work for the business mostly because they believe in what it is doing (45 per cent).  Other factors included having a more flexible work schedule (36 per cent) and having the opportunity to contribute to the business (35 per cent).