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Canadian Entrepreneurs Optimistic About Their Future—Despite Inflationary Conditions

Every year, Ownr sends out two surveys to Canadian small business owners aiming to understand their ongoing challenges and perspectives on the future. In our most recent survey, we received over one thousand responses from new and experienced small business owners—and the findings were surprising. 

Ownr’s 2023 survey findings show the effects of inflation and economic uncertainty on entrepreneurship. While inflation remains a concern for small businesses, some entrepreneurs are using it as a motivation to start their own business to overcome the financial barriers created by current market conditions. Another significant finding was the growing sense of optimism among the respondents. In fact, almost half said they feel more optimistic about their small business projections now than they did six months ago

Here are the major takeaways from our most recent 2023 survey:

Comparing Entrepreneurship from 2022 to now:

  • Cash flow challenges overtake inflation/economic uncertainty as top concern – In 2023, cash flow issues are increasingly the top concern for entrepreneurs (46.6%, up from 38.9% last year) while inflation/economic uncertainty takes a backseat (22.7%, down from 33.5% last year).
  • Small businesses continue to raise prices to adjust for inflation – In 2022, 30.5 per cent of business owners had raised their prices by over 10 per cent due to inflation and rising costs. In 2023, about 23.3 per cent have raised prices by over 10 per cent. The majority (30.6%) say it hasn’t affected their business yet but expect it to soon.
  • Optimism grows, despite current market conditions – As small business owners adapt to inflation and rising costs, almost half (47.7%) of respondents feel more optimistic about their business plans now than they did six months ago.
  • Side ventures are on the rise – Amidst rising cost of living and economic uncertainty, 41.7 per cent of respondents started their business as a side venture, and almost 1 in 4 (24.9%) started their business to create an additional revenue source.
  • Newcomers see entrepreneurship as a path to financial independence – Of the 39.2 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as an immigrant to Canada, almost half (46.9%) cited financial freedom and supporting their family as their top motivator in starting a business in Canada. 

Inflationary conditions serve as a motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs as “solopreneurs” grow in popularity

After months of adapting and pivoting in light of economic uncertainty and supply chain challenges, entrepreneurs are now becoming more optimistic about their business outlook – with almost half (47.7%) of respondents feeling more positive about their business plans now than they did six months ago. 

Solopreneurs, or individuals who operate their business alone without any partners or employees, have grown in popularity as Canadians look for ways to increase their income with minimal overhead costs. Out of 67 per cent of respondents who identified as solopreneurs, the majority (65.1%) said they hope to expand their team with the goal of growing their business. 

Even within challenging conditions, Ownr is committed to help small businesses thrive 

Entrepreneurship remains alive and well in Canada. Rather than deterring desires to pursue small business ownership, economic uncertainty has created a rise in solopreneurship, and it’s driving Canadian entrepreneurs to be more scrappy and creative as they adapt and pivot their business plans,” said Sid Paquette, Head of RBCx. 

Not only are existing small business owners more optimistic, but many new entrepreneurs are exploring business ownership options as a means to keep up with the rising cost of living. Almost 1 in 4 (24.9%) small business owners started their business as an additional revenue source. This is an almost 7 per cent increase from the findings of Ownr’s 2022 survey

Paquette continues, “We are proud to have helped more than 100,000 Canadians launch their entrepreneurial dreams into reality through Ownr, and we remain committed to enabling small businesses to bring innovative new ideas to market and thrive on their entrepreneurial journey.” 

Canadian newcomers look to entrepreneurship to achieve financial freedom, barriers persist

Among the 39.2 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as a newcomer to Canada, almost half (46.9%) stated they were motivated to start a business in Canada to achieve financial freedom and support their family. Despite the flexibility entrepreneurship can offer, barriers still persist for new immigrants to Canada—the biggest challenge, according to respondents, was access to funds (53.5%), followed by a lack of network or industry connections (37.2%). 

“Newcomers make up an important part of the fabric of the Canadian small business community by bringing their diverse perspectives and new ideas to the marketplace,” said Derek Hopfner, Chief Revenue Officer at Ownr. “It’s essential that we break down barriers to entrepreneurship by understanding the nuanced needs and challenges of newcomers, and ensure that all aspiring entrepreneurs have access to the resources and support they need to thrive. By empowering diverse small business owners, we can build a stronger, more vibrant economy for Canadians to benefit from.”

Take a look at the full data report here.

The survey, conducted between March 23, 2023 to April 17, 2023, captures the responses of 1,044 participants based in Canada via an online questionnaire provided to Ownr’s customer database. Every participant is either an existing entrepreneur or is planning to launch their business in the future. The results of this report have an estimated 3 per cent margin of error.

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