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A Passion for Small Business

When people think business they usually think big business. They think of large corporations and big employers. When people think of business owners, they often picture wealthy business people driving BMWs across town in sharp suits. The truth though is that some 98% of all employer businesses in Canada are small businesses. Powering these small businesses are passionate movers and shakers who have dreams of success, each with a unique set of resources (skills, talents, assets, experience) that will help them make it or break it.

They definitely don’t all drive beemers and I’m sure many hate suits.

I started 6P to help complement small business owners’ passion and knowledge through scalable, flexible, collaborative marketing solutions. We’ve been fortunate to work with some fantastic people who are appreciative of our services and regularly refer others to us.

Almost five years in, I would like to reflect on the small business environment in Canada. This is a business segment I am incredibly passionate about and, yes, I do count as a small business owner myself … I don’t mind suits though.

PS – When you read on you will also learn that Marketing is the second biggest challenge that small business owners face. No doubt this is a function of the ever-changing landscape related to advertising (online and offline). While this bodes well for our business, we take this responsibility seriously and aim to ensure this challenge is overcome in the long term.


What is the definition of a small business in Canada?

1 to 4 employees: Micro-enterprise
5 to 100: Small business
101 to 499: Medium-sized business
500 plus: Large business

(Source: Industry Canada)

How many small businesses are there in Canada?

As of December 2010, the total number of registered employer businesses in Canada (businesses with at least one employee on payroll) was: 1,138,761. Amazingly, 1,116,423 of those were small businesses, comprising 98% of all employer businesses in Canada.

(Source: Industry Canada calculations using data from Statistics Canada)

How many Canadians work for small businesses?

5,137,147 (48.3% of Canada’s total workforce).

In 2005, 41% of employed Canadians worked for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

(Source: Industry Canada calculations using data from Statistics Canada)

How many Canadians are self-employed?

In 2010, 2.7 million Canadians were self-employed.

35 hours: Average work week for employees in 2010.
40 hours: Average work week for the self-employed in 2010.
31% of self-employed Canadians reported working more than 50 hours per week in 2010, while 4% of employees worked past that threshold in the same year.

(Source: Statistics Canada)

How active are small business owners online?

In 2007, the year for which the latest statistics from the Canadian government are available:

85% of small businesses had Internet access.
 of large businesses had Internet access.
36% of small businesses had their own websites (compared to 91% of large businesses).
7% sold goods/services online (compared to 22% of large businesses).

(Source: Industry Canada calculations using data from Statistics Canada)

What do small businesses contribute to Canada’s total exports?

86% of Canadian exporters were small businesses in 2009.
Small businesses accounted for $68 billion in exports (25% of Canada’s total export value).

(Source: Industry Canada calculations using data from Statistics Canada)

Are small business owners confident about Canada’s economy?

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer Index fell to 61.7 in August 2011, its lowest reading since July 2009. A score of 50 or higher means more business owners expect a stronger performance in the next year than those who expect a weaker performance.

Provincially, Alberta’s index was the highest in the country at 75.
Prince Edward Island had the lowest index at 59.7.
The index bottomed out in late 2008 / early 2009 at under 40.

(Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses)

Dragon’s Den Chat

On October 9, CBC News hosted an online chat (see replay) where entrepreneurs could ask the cast of the Dragon’s Den team anything about starting, marketing and running a business. During the chat, thousands of participants weighed in through several informal polls. Here are the results:

Has your small business fared better or worse this year than the last?
•    Better – 44%
•    Worse – 12%
•    About the same – 45%

How do you market your small business?
•    Print – 10%
•    Radio or television – 1%
•    Online / social media – 60%
•    I don’t market my business – 29%

What is your biggest challenge in running a small business?
•    Cash flow – 51%
•    Marketing – 21%
•    Managing staff – 10%
•    Work-leisure/Family – 18%

Small Business Help and Resource Links:

Forbes Small Business Tool Kit
Profit Magazine
Export Development Canada (EDC)
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Industry Canada
Statistics Canada

Paul Provost
6P Marketing