Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive in Canada as Majority (54%) Have Thought About Owning their Own Business

Millennials Lead on Thoughts of Starting Own Business, Engaging in Side Hustle

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  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, September 20, 2018 — The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Canada as a majority (54%) of Canadians have thought about owning their own business, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of RBC. Regionally, those in Alberta (63%) are most likely to have thought about starting their own business, followed by those living in Ontario (57%), British Columbia (55%), Atlantic Canada (53%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (52%) and Quebec (45%).

Of those who have thought about owning a business but haven’t started one yet, many have started their own gig in a less formal way: three in ten (28%) have found ways to make money from a passion project, two in ten (20%) take on side-jobs to make cash in addition to their full-time job, (9%) have a flexible schedule and have chosen to take on a paid side hustle, and (8%) have a business idea that they’re testing that is independent of their current employment.

Millennials appear to most strongly exhibit the entrepreneurial spirit: those aged 18-24 (67%) and 25-34 (60%) are more likely than the average Canadian (54%) to say that they have ever thought about owning their own business. Moreover, those under the age of 35 are the most likely to be doing entrepreneurial activities, aside from formally running their own business, including: finding ways to make money from a passion project or hobby (28% of Millennials vs. 17% of Gen Xers vs. 14% of Boomers), having a flexible schedule and taking on a paid side hustle (11% vs. 6% vs. 5%), and having a business idea that they are testing (11% vs. 6% vs. 1%). Further, Millennials are the most likely to say that they wish they had a side hustle but don’t know what to do to get started (24% vs. 15% vs. 10%).

Thinking about why they like or would like to start or run their own business, eight in ten (81%) Canadians agree that they like the idea of being their own boss. Others say it gives or would give them the ability to have control over their career (80%), make more money (76%), bring something new and exciting to the market (69%), create a legacy (61%) and achieve a better social status (52%). Millennials are more likely to agree that being a small business owner does or would give them a greater ability to do all of these things.

Six in ten (61%) Canadians who don’t own a business say that having the financial capital necessary to start a business would encourage them to take the plunge, followed by having the right idea (51%), understanding the fundamentals of business administration (i.e. accounting, payroll, etc) (38%), having a strong network of contacts (36%), having access to ongoing support and guidance (33%), having the right partner (27%) or some other motivation (6%). However, among those who have started a business, the experience appears to differ. Notably, only 25% say they were motivated by having the capital to start the business – behind other factors such as having the right idea (48%) and understanding the fundamentals of business administration (30%). Less impactful on their decision to start a business was the belief that they had the right partner (25%), a strong network of contacts (24%), or access to ongoing support and guidance (23%).

Interestingly, Millennials are or would be most encouraged to start a business as a result of a number of catalysts, including having a better understanding of the fundamentals of business administration (49%), having a strong network of clients (45%), having access to ongoing support and guidance (41%), and having the right partner (39%).

Where owners and non-owners more closely agree is on the biggest challenge facing business owners: four in ten (40%) say that attracting and keeping customers is the biggest challenge, followed by cash flow (24%), access to capital when needed (17%), operations and staffing (11%) and staying on top of administrative tasks such as invoicing and payroll (8%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between July 6 and 15, 2018, on behalf of RBC. For this survey, a sample of 2,025 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson, Vice President, Canada
Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2002
[email protected]

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs