Canada has a rich history in business. You’ve likely visited, or at least heard of, The Hudson’s Bay Company (The Bay or HBC), which was founded in 1670, making it the oldest commercial business in North America. One could argue that HBC was founded by two of Canada’s earliest entrepreneurs, French traders who saw an opportunity for wealth in the fur trade. Throughout the time before and after Confederation, our nation, as it is today, has been steadily built by the hands of entrepreneurs. Much of the time, those very people were immigrants to Canada coming with nothing but skills they’d learned in their homelands. Upon coming to Canada, they had a choice: try to find work with someone else who may or may not speak their language (or pay them), or work for themselves using the skills they already had to fill a need within this new, burgeoning market.
Fast-forward a few hundred years and you have a decline in entrepreneurialism in favour of industrialization and commercialization. Post World War II, everyone worked for The Man and was fine to do so; that is, until The Man started paying himself a lot more money than he was paying his employees, inflating the markets exponentially and treating the environment like his personal dumping ground.
These days, if we can guarantee anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed. Just because you’ve been at the same company for 20 years, doesn’t mean you won’t get caught in restructuring and be out of work. Just because you have a list of letters behind your name as long as your arm, doesn’t mean anyone will hire you. Just because The Great Depression happened almost 90 years ago, doesn’t mean it can’t happen again (we’re looking at you, 2008).
So, when the economy isn’t exactly stable and steady jobs don’t exist and no one will hire you in the first place, what do you do? You make like the French and become Canada’s newest entrepreneur.
What are the statistics are saying?
At some point in their career, everyone worries about what their next move will be. Gone are the days when a person spends their entire career of 40+ years with one or two companies. Considering today’s job market, where steady income and benefits seem to be ghosting faster than a Tinder match, the decision to start a business seems to be taking over as the norm. According to the report Key Small Business Statistics – June 2016 (KSBS) from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Small Business Branch, 97.9% of Canadian employers are small businesses — that is, those with between 1 and 99 employees (not including self-employed people). Medium businesses (100 to 499 employees) make up 1.8% of Canadian employers ,while large businesses (500+ employees) make up a whopping 0.3%.
The best types of businesses to start have low barrier to entry, meaning you don’t need a Masters degree or a few million dollars to get it going. But if you’re considering the leap into entrepreneurialism, remember — it’s a big one. Do your due diligence and be sure there’s a market for what you’re planning to offer.
If you’re not entirely ready to make that leap, you’re not alone. It seems that everybody has a side hustle (formerly known as moonlighting). Since the KSBS information doesn’t include side hustle statistics, it’s tough to know how many nine-to-fivers are living their true passion — and making a bit of extra cash, hopefully — after hours. The advantage to entering the entrepreneurial world this way, of course, is that you’re able to build a client list while maintaining your existing income and, y’know, not defaulting on your mortgage in the meantime.
Who is ahead in the entrepreneurial game?
Speaking of mortgages, those who are most likely to start their own business are of the age group that have their mortgage paid off already. While people below the age group of 30 to 39 make up 14.7% of small business ownership, it’s the 55 to 64 age bracket who are really making gains in small business, comprising 47.4% of that market (and 51% of the medium sized business market to boot!) So, the proof is in the (retirement home) pudding: you’re never too old to start your own business.
The younger age groups shouldn’t be discouraged by these statistics, however. A good idea is worth its weight in gold. Just think of Snapchat founders, Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, who were still attending university when they thought of the widely popular app that was privately valued at 18 million dollars earlier this year.
For the gender gap, the entrepreneurship opportunities aren’t quite equal just yet. Male ownership of small and medium size businesses accounts for 64.7%; for the female population, it’s at 15.7% according to the KSBS. So, ladies, if you’ve been sitting on a fantastic business idea, now is a great time to get it rolling.
Are you the boss of you?
For most entrepreneurs, the top reasons for starting their business don’t include money and fame (although those would be nice). More likely, they include things like being their own boss, filling a need by providing a great product or service and helping other people. If you do any of these things in your current job, then that’s wonderful for you, but chances are, you’re not checking all of these boxes, especially the ‘be your own boss’ checkbox.
In a 2016 millennial survey, Deloitte found that two out of every three respondents expect to leave their current employer by 2020. This is a global survey of over 7,000 millennials that occurs annually so it is not exactly great news for big business no matter where you’re located. But keeping the respondents might be a lost cause, as the biggest factor (63%) in them leaving, according to the survey, was that their leadership skills weren’t being fully developed by their organization. Essentially, they weren’t being allowed to grow their boss wings.
What’s the fastest way to grow your boss wings? Become your own boss, of course.
According to Business Dictionary, the entrepreneurial spirit is characterized by innovation and risk – taking, and is an essential part of a nation’s ability to succeed in an ever – changing and increasingly competitive global marketplace. Whether you love or don’t love your day job, if you see a need that sparks an idea, take the leap because we’re damn lucky that the opportunities in Canada are plenty for those with an entrepreneurial heart.
Written By Jess Campbell