Entrepreneurship is widely respected: CFIB
Written by Amanda Ryder
July 25, 2011 - Small businesses earn high respect among Canadians, according to
results of a survey issued last week. An overwhelming 94 per cent said they
admire entrepreneurs, while 92 per cent would approve of their child or
immediate family member starting their own business.
The study, titled Perspectives on Small Business in Canada,
is based on a survey of 1,160 small businesses, and includes a separate
general-population survey of 2,028 adult Canadians. The surveys were
commissioned through the Angus Reid Forum by the Canadian Federation of
Independent Business (CFIB), HP Canada and Intel Canada.
Small business is the second-most respected institution behind
farmers, most of whom are small businesses themselves. The survey also
found that 95 per cent of Canadians value the products, services and
personal attention that they get from a small business. Importantly, an
impressive 98 per cent of Canadians surveyed say small business is
important to Canada's future.
"Across the country, Canadians realize the importance of small
business and the strong impact they have on the economy," said Doug
Bruce, vice-president, Research, CFIB. "Ninety-four per cent of
Canadians agree that small business is vital to their community.
Providing employment locally, meeting the unique needs of the community,
and donating goods and services are top ways they contribute."
However, the survey also brought to light a number of challenges
facing entrepreneurs, with a full 71 per cent of Canadians saying they
do not believe there is strong enough emphasis on entrepreneurship as a
career option in schools. The survey also found that despite the respect
that Canadians have for small business, 83 per cent feel that
governments undervalue entrepreneurs. And, when asked why they are not
going into business for themselves, the biggest barrier was the lack of
money (57 per cent), followed by the amount of risk involved (40 per
cent) and uncertainty about the success of the business (36 per cent).
Increased investment in technology helps small businesses save time, money
Among small business owners and employees surveyed, 69 per cent of
less-established small businesses (those operating 10 years or less)
indicated that they are planning to increase their operations in the
next three years.
Forty-three per cent indicated that increased investment in
technology would help their business achieve its overall goals; of these
respondents, 67 per cent believe that increased investment in
technology would help them save time and money. Other benefits cited
from increased technology include improving access to information (64
per cent), helping to remain competitive (58 per cent) and promoting
innovation (48 per cent). Eighty-one per cent of business owners felt
that investments in technology matched or exceed their expectations.
"The survey results really speak to the importance of investing in
technology as part of a business' long-term growth strategy," said
Elaine Mah, business marketing manager, Intel Canada. "Technology is
being seen as a key enabler for innovation and productivity among small-
and medium-sized businesses."
The survey also found that 76 per cent of Canadian small businesses
believe they are currently utilizing technology either at the same level
or to a greater extent than their competitors, with just18 per cent
saying they use it to a lesser extent. However, the results are
different when it comes to the rate at which small businesses adopt new
technologies: just 17 per cent believe they are early adopters while 46
per cent believe they adopt the latest technologies at the same time as
their competitors. Thirty per cent say they adopt the latest technology
after their competitors, likely waiting to understand how the market
will adapt before investing.
"This is interesting when you consider that small businesses also
revealed that their top operating challenge is competition, tied with
regulation and paper burden at 39 per cent," said Leyland Brown, vice
president and general manager, Personal Systems Group, HP Canada. "We
know that technology can give a small business a competitive advantage,
and these results show us that the majority of small businesses feel
they have taken steps to ensure they are using the right technology to
address the competition. Most may not see themselves as early adopters,
but this data indicates that they are relying on technology to help give
them an edge."
Additional survey findings include:
- Seventy-nine per cent of Canadians -believe the economy is powered by entrepreneurs.
- One in five (20 per cent) of Canadians currently own or have owned a
small business, while close to half (46 per cent) have given some
thought to running their own business.
- When asked why they started their own business, 60 per cent of
owners indicated that they wanted to be their own boss and make their
own decisions. Others saw business ownership as an opportunity to make
better use of their skills and knowledge (37 per cent), while yet others
did it to create more flexibility in their schedule (30 per cent) or
for a financial opportunity (30 per cent).
- Close to half of the small business employees surveyed indicated
they wanted 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).
- In terms of operating challenges for small businesses, competition,
regulation and paper burden tied for first place (39 per cent). Total
tax burden followed closely at 33 per cent.