85.4% of Small Business Owners Regret Not Starting Their Business Earlier — New Survey on Motivations of Canadian Entrepreneurs

A recent survey of Canadian business owners conducted by Ownr, an RBCx company, reveals what has led Canadians to entrepreneurship, and shows that being a small business owner takes a lot of heart.

Ownr, a leading Canadian business formation and legal management platform, released new data today on the makeup of Canadian small business owners and the motivations behind why Canadians choose entrepreneurship. The data reveals that for most entrepreneurs, owning their own business stems from aspirations to take charge of their own life – whether that began in childhood or when they entered the workforce.

Key survey highlights include:

  • 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

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“What is so fascinating about how many small business owners wish they had started their business sooner, is that we also see it takes over half (51.6%) of them less than a year to go from ideation to business registration”

There is no ‘right age’ for entrepreneurship

Many factors come into 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 about how many small business owners wish they had started their business sooner, 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 take a closer look at when Canadians began aspiring to small business ownership shows little consensus. However, the top two stages of life were while Canadians were 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.”

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Cash flow concerns continue to be top of mind

Although finances may not be the main motivator for aspiring entrepreneurs, it is a major point of concern for current business owners. 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.

Since 2017, Ownr has helped over 85,000 Canadians start and grow their own business by making the process of starting and maintaining a business as simple and affordable as possible. Ownr is further providing support this year by reducing the cost of registering a Sole Proprietorship from $89 to $49 — becoming one of the lowest registration fees in Canada.

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
  • Almost half (46.5%) 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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