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BIZ BITES

Recession not as bad as thought, says RBC study

Bucking the general sentiment, a recent RBC/Ipsos Reid survey suggests more than half (56 percent) of Canadian entrepreneurs feel the recent recession had either no impact or a positive impact on their business.

In fact, 72 percent are optimistic about the success of their companies over the next year, even though six-in-ten small business owners do not think the recession is over yet, and just one-in-four indicate that they will be adding staff in the next year.

“Entrepreneurs are optimistic, which is consistent with what our clients are telling us, and this is reflected in their plans for the future,” says Mike Michell, the RBC’s national director for small business. “Small business owners feel as though they have weathered the storm well, but are still prudently approaching the future by reviewing their business plans.”

Small business owners say the biggest hurdles they currently face are finding clients and developing their market (22 percent), keeping a steady workload (13 percent) and maintaining sufficient cash flow and financing growth (11 percent). Of the 36 percent who experienced a negative impact as a result of the recession, 72 percent say that sales revenue decreased, and 54 percent say there are now fewer business opportunities.   
            
Half of the business owners surveyed advise aspiring entrepreneurs to network and develop alliances in order to grow their business—a track those interviewed say they should have pursued more diligently, while also aggressively soliciting clients and seeking more advice.

RBC commissioned similar surveys in 2005 and 2007. The analysis shows few significant changes in the attitudes of small business owners since. However, some key trends were identified, including additional female entrepreneurs (52 percent in 2010 are women, compared to 44 percent in 2007 and 48 percent in 2005). Entrepreneurs are also getting older. In 2010, more than half are over the age of 55, compared to 39 percent in 2005. In contrast, the 18- to 34-year-old age group is trending away from entrepreneurship, from 15 percent in 2005 to just seven percent in 2010.

Other surpising results from the RBC study, which was conducted last month, include a finding that fewer small business owners (22 percent) are logging long hours today than they were five years ago (36 percent). Time management is also less of a concern to Canadian entrepreneurs in 2010 (16 percent) than it was in 2005 (36 percent).


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