We often hear about the pursuit of entrepreneurship as a means to achieve a better work-life balance or financial freedom. But gearing up to leap into the unknown is never so straightforward.
To learn more about this vital segment of the economy, our team released results of a new survey, titled ‘The Tipping Point: Making the Jump to Self-Made’. The survey takes a closer look at the driving forces and defining moments that have prompted individuals to venture out on their own in the first place. We also honed in on just what Canadian business owners are saying they need to survive and thrive for years to come. Surprisingly, when asked just how long they give themselves to find success, almost two-thirds (65%) answered “five years or less to make it”. In a decade that will long be remembered for the pandemic that swept the globe, this five-year expiration date is telling of the mindset of Canadian entrepreneurs, as well as the resilience they’re practicing to overcome the odds.
The pursuit of a dream
“I’ve always had the desire to own my own business, I just didn’t know what that business would be,” says Chef Rosemary Woods, Co-owner of F&B Hospitality Group in Ontario. And, she’s in good company with 41% of Canadians surveyed, saying a defining moment in their decision to start a business occurred when they became overcome with a passion for entrepreneurship. Adding, “I was 15 years into my career in architecture when I had that ‘lightbulb’ moment. Sure, to those on the outside looking in, it might have seemed like I took a big, spontaneous leap but, in reality, it just made sense for me.”
For April Brown and Sarah Sklash, co-founders of Ontario-based boutique hotel brand, The June Motel, much of the report data is reflective of their experiences as entrepreneurs as well, “We quit our nine-to-five jobs with the dream of creating a unique hospitality brand that delivers good vibes and high design for visitors,” says Brown. “In our first year, we transformed a dingy roadside property into a boutique motel in Prince Edward County, despite not knowing if anyone would come and stay.”
Last year, travel restrictions brought about due to COVID-19 would challenge Brown and Sklash to consider the legacy they were creating – another strong motivating factor (12%) among Gen Z respondents – if they wanted their business to survive.
“We started to recognize the positive economic impact we were having on the local community in Prince Edward County, and began plans for expansion. Ultimately, this led to us opening a second location in Sauble Beach, with more planned in the future,” adds Sklash.
The reality check
The idea of being one’s own boss is often veiled by promises of having more control over your time and improved flexibility. The reality, however, is a little different. The Tipping Point report found that 43% of business owners cited ‘being your own boss and having total control will be a weight off your shoulders’ as the greatest misconception about starting a business.
When asked about The June Motel’s transition to digital, Sklash shares, “Pivoting into ecommerce wasn’t easy – it was certainly more work than we imagined. But, by working with cloud-based systems that all integrate with Xero, we’ve been able to build up this new offering all while scaling our business and keeping tabs on our operations and performance.”
As we approach the halfway point of 2021, and move forward into the second year of the pandemic, our data reveals that small business owners are generally positive about the economic outlook as it relates to the health of their business. While a full bounceback, both in terms of revenue and confidence, will take time, we’re already seeing businesses like The June Motel adapting their processes and operations for long-term success.
Looking ahead, we see small businesses honing their focus on being better prepared for financial instability, clamping down on cash flow, and diversifying their revenue streams.
When the going gets tough…
Resilience and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand, and nowhere did we see that more than from Canadian businesses over the last year. Faced with unparalleled challenges, this community has shown us that when the going gets tough, the tough get flexible. According to the survey, two-thirds (67%) of small business owners agree that the pandemic showed them the value of remaining flexible and adaptable in business, while 73% stressed the importance of mastering digital technology in these times.
It’s this ability to stick with it and adapt to an ever-changing environment that will define Canada’s small business community. They’ll act as the inspiration for generations of entrepreneurs to come, as they measure their own tipping point.