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Special Reports


RBC Survey shows most Canadian small business owners optimistic about economy

Yet many taking steps to succeed in today's economic environment

TORONTO, September 24, 2008 — With talk of an economic slowdown continuing, one might assume that Canadian small business owners are worried about their future. But a recent RBC/Ipsos Reid survey shows that over half of those surveyed (57 per cent) are optimistic about the Canadian economy (36 per cent are positive and 21 per cent are neutral). In fact, almost half (48 per cent) think that the next six months would be a good time to grow or expand their business.

Despite these positive sentiments, the survey results also showed that business owners are taking steps to ensure their success. In particular, the majority of business owners (52 per cent) are cutting back on unnecessary expenses; working to provide extra value to customers (47 per cent); finding ways to reduce energy/fuel consumption (31 per cent); and increasing marketing efforts (27 per cent).

Only three per cent of those surveyed who have employees would consider laying off staff; four per cent would reduce work hours; and seven per cent would consider lowering prices for products or services.

"I think it's really important to note that small business owners across the country seem to have a good handle on the importance of managing through uncertain times," said Rina Pillitteri, national director, Small Business, RBC Royal Bank. "Building a successful small business is always a challenge. Now, more than ever, having a solid business plan is important and should include ways to deal with economic and market volatility so that business owners can succeed and grow no matter what obstacles may be in their way."

Of those business owners surveyed, 76 per cent believe they could handle doubling their sales in the next year. When asked what they want to focus on this year,, 51 per cent of small business owners say they are focusing on keeping their existing customers as well as gaining new ones, and 16 per cent say they are ensuring their business is running as efficiently as possible.

"Ups and downs are part of the normal course of business for the majority of business owners," added Pillitteri. "What the survey results have shown us is that many small business owners are going out of their way to improve the value of the service and products they are already providing to their customer base, while working to attract new ones to ensure this growth and continued success."

It's not surprising that from a regional perspective, small business owners from the Prairies (15 per cent) and British Columbia (13 per cent) are more likely to describe the Canadian economy as 'growing' compared to other provinces. Small business owners from Ontario (36 per cent), Quebec (26 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (29 per cent) are more likely to describe the Canadian economy as 'going through a rough patch' compared to those on the Prairies (17 per cent).

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid/RBC Royal Bank poll conducted between August 5 and August 11, 2008. For the survey, invitations were sent to a representative sample of Canadian small business owners with 10 or fewer employees, and reporting less than $1 million in annual revenue, resulting in 1,145 completed online interviews. An unweighted probability sample of this size, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Margin of error for subgroups will be larger.

RBC Royal Bank delivers a wide range of financial services and practical advice to small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. RBC is Canada's leading financial institution for small business, serving one in four small businesses. For practical advice and information about starting, owning and managing a small business, visit: www.rbcroyalbank.com/business/resources.

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Media contact:

Jackie Braden, Media Relations, (416) 974-2124
Janet Gibson Eichner, Corporate Communications,
(416) 974-7622

For full tabular results, please see the Ipsos Reid website at www.ipsos.ca


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09/24/2008 07:30:13