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Ownr Survey: Most Entrepreneurs Wish They Started Their Business Earlier

In our entrepreneurship surveys, we set out to learn more about Canadian small business owners. We ask questions about their goals, frustrations, and most recently, their motivations—and what we found out was surprising.

Our data shows that entrepreneurship can be attainable at any point in Canadians’ lives, regardless of professional background or educational experience. In our current landscape of economic uncertainty, especially emerging from pandemic restrictions, it seems the passion of Canadian entrepreneurs is as strong and resilient as ever. We also found that the lure of taking charge of your own future, whether it starts at childhood or after years in the workforce, remains a driving force behind the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit—in fact, an overwhelming majority said they wish they started their own business earlier. 

Well, there’s no time like the present, so let’s dive into the survey results:

Key highlights:

  • 45.9 per cent of respondents held a corporate job before starting their own business
    • 16 per cent of respondents were shift workers, 8.8 per cent were unemployed
  • Just over half (51.1%) of entrepreneurs went to school related to their current business and 46.3 per cent did not
  • 51 per cent are more optimistic about their business plans now than compared to six months ago

There is no ‘right time’ for entrepreneurship

Many factors come into play when entrepreneurs start their own business, but overwhelmingly, small business owners wish they had started sooner rather than later. In fact, a whopping 85.4 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs wish they had started their business earlier than they did.

“What is so fascinating is that we also see it takes over half (51.6%) of them less than a year to go from ideation to business registration,” said Shadi McIsaac, CEO and Co-Founder of Ownr.

“At a time where we hear warnings everywhere about exercising caution, what we are actually seeing from small business owners is that the risk is not from starting your own business – but from waiting too long to do so. Every second counts when it comes to an opportunity to redefine your livelihood on your own terms.”

When we try to pinpoint which stages in life Canadians aspire to entrepreneurship, the data shows little consensus and seemed to run throughout any age. However, the survey did reveal the top two life stages were when Canadians were already in a full-time career (45.1%) and as a young kid (20.9%). 

Entrepreneurship is not just a means to an end

While most (60.1%) Canadian entrepreneur respondents are hoping to be able to provide for themselves or dependents through their own business, 29.7 per cent noted that financial factors did not motivate them to start their business. Instead, the top three reasons for starting their own business were to gain more purpose in life (27.4%), more flexibility in day-to-day schedule (20.1%) and creative freedom (19.6%). Starting their own business to gain an additional revenue source ranked fourth (18.8%).

“It is inspiring to see how Canadians are taking small business ownership as a way to create a fulfilling, meaningful life, and it is Ownr’s mission to make it as easy as possible for anyone with a dream of starting their own business to achieve their goals,” said McIsaac. “Canadians should never have to choose between financial stability and personal fulfilment. Through entrepreneurship, we see that it is possible to achieve both.”

Cash flow concerns continue to be top of mind

Small business owners listed cash flow issues (59%) and inflation and economic uncertainty (48.9%) as their current highest concerns, with changing consumer behaviour and preferences (23.1%) as a distant third.

In particular, small business owners continue to grapple with inflation as Canada experiences fluctuating interest rates, rising cost of living, and an unstable job market. 44 per cent of entrepreneurs noted that inflation has not affected their business yet, but they expect inflation to increase costs over the upcoming year. 40.3 per cent have already raised their prices, with just over one fifth (21.6%) having already raised their prices by over 10 per cent.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • 59.4 per cent of respondents noted that increased business during the holiday season is important to their business, with over a quarter (28.4%) saying that increased business during that time is extremely important
  • 46.5 per cent noted that their small business is their main source of income, and 39.7 per cent noted that their business is currently a side hustle, but hope to turn it into their full-time career.
    • 13.8 per cent noted that their business is a side hustle and they intend to keep it as only a secondary source of income

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