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Canadians have entrepreneurial spirit but what’s stopping them?

RBC Poll unveils top barriers to starting their own business


TORONTO, September 23, 2015 - Over half of Canadians (57 per cent) are entrepreneurs at heart and have thought of owning their own business, according to a recent RBC Small Business survey. While one-third (36 per cent) of Canadians who have thought of owning a business have actually started one, 84 per cent of those who have not started a business say they would rather work for themselves than for someone else.

“Entrepreneurs play a key role in our economy by creating jobs, stimulating growth and encouraging innovation and creativity,” says Sarah Adams, vice-president, Small Business, RBC. “They are the backbone of our economy so it’s important that we provide them with the advice and support so that they can compete and be successful.”

For those who have not started their own business, the following were cited as top barriers:

  • No capital/start-up money – 44 per cent
  • Need steady/reliable income – 38 per cent
  • Fear of failure – 29 per cent
  • Did not know how to start – 28 per cent

Millennials are aspiring entrepreneurs
While two-thirds (67 per cent) of millennials (age 18-34) have thought of owning their own business, eight-in-10 (78 per cent) had not started. What’s holding them back? In addition to lack of capital, 34 per cent did not know how to start and almost one-in-four (23 per cent) said they had too much debt, such as student loans.

Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit starts in childhood
The survey also found that respondents who thought of owning a business had been engaged in entrepreneurial activities as children, such as doing yard work (49 per cent), shoveling driveways (37 per cent), creating a lemonade stand (22 per cent), painting (22 percent), selling crafts that they had made (17 percent) and walking dogs/pet sitting (13 per cent).

If there’s a will, there’s a way
Of those who started their own business, 40 per cent saved their own money; 35 per cent started small or with a side business to test the waters; 28 per cent got moral or financial support from family/friends; and 21 per cent contacted a financial institution/accountant/lawyer.

To help make your dream business come true, Adams suggests the following tips:

  • Research your market. While it may be tempting to ask family and friends for input on your product or service, to truly understand if your idea is viable, it is best to talk to your target audience. And don’t forget to check out the competition to give you insight into the marketplace and the opportunities that might exist.
  • Develop a business plan. The business plan is the most important document you need because it helps you to think through your business idea before you actually start your business. Think about what problem you will solve and your competitive advantage.
  • Determine your financial needs. Assess your start-up costs and calculate how long it will take to break-even. Explore government grants and small business financing programs that help entrepreneurs get their business off the ground. Talk to a financial advisor about cash flow needs and consider an operating line of credit, business credit card or term loan.
  • Seek advice from professionals and other business owners. Connect with experienced business owners who can serve as sounding boards for your ideas and ask for advice about starting your business. Explore industry/trade associations for networking opportunities, and consider contacting start-up incubators to see what support they could offer.

About the Entrepreneur Poll
The RBC Entrepreneur Poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid from July 7 to 10, 2015, through a national online survey of 1,005 adult Canadians. Weighting was then 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 +/ - 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all adult Canadians 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.

About RBC Small Business Banking
Small businesses in Canada want flexible banking choices, convenient payment options and simple ways to manage their cash flow. Whether they are starting a business, managing growth, or succession planning, the RBC Advice Centre or Starting a Business website can help answer their questions. Free interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of business finance and online advice videos are updated regularly to answer questions that are top of mind with small business owners. RBC Group Advantage is a comprehensive program providing employees with advice from qualified investment specialists and financial advisors and also offers flexible plans -- including group RRSPs, group savings and group bank -- as well as a mortgage relocation program, to help small business owners attract, retain and motivate productive, long-term employees. With the guidance of RBC business advisors, small business owners have access to free, no obligation professional advice about RBC products and services. For more assistance, please visit

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For more information, please contact:
Melanie Rockliff, RBC Communications, 416-974-0232
Lena Wan, RBC Communications, 416-955-6665