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Majority of Canadians believe small business ownership is less risky than working for someone else: RBC poll

Waiting for a “big idea” is not necessarily a requirement—opportunity, financing and passion are also important factors

TORONTO, September 28, 2016 -  In a time of increased uncertainty, many Canadians are considering entrepreneurship as a way to gain control over their future. According to RBC’s recent Small Business Poll more than three-quarters of Canadians (79 per cent) believe that working for themselves is less risky than working for someone else because they can control their own financial future. While 60 per cent of Canadians say that they have thought of starting a business, there are a number of reasons why people take the plunge.

“Many Canadians see business ownership as providing freedom and control over their career and financial future, but each one has their own motivations,” says Jason Storsley, vice-president, Small Business, RBC. “While a business may be similar in terms of industry, no two business owners are the same—so the services and advice they need to either launch or grow a business must cater to who they are as both people and owners.”

The RBC Small Business Poll found that there are many reasons Canadians think about owning a business, but taking charge of their future is paramount, which is supported by 92 per cent that said they would start a business to have control over their career, and 92 per cent wanting to be their own boss.

Of those Canadians who thought about starting a business, many are holding off for a big idea. However, less than half (43 per cent) of business owners said that having a great idea for a business is what drove them to start a business. The poll found that important factors to starting a business include:

  • Opportunity. Sixty-four per cent of business owners say that they started a business because the opportunity presented itself. Pairing that opportunity with a solid business plan and an advisory network of trusted professionals can help entrepreneurs convert opportunity to business success. “A business plan doesn’t have to be complicated but it should address your business goals, and the steps to achieve them,' says Storsley. 'Entrepreneurs need experienced advisors and mentors along for the journey. This could include your banker, lawyer, accountant and other trusted partners.'
  • Financing. Only 17 per cent of business owners said that they waited to start a business until they had the cash saved up. There are many avenues to securing cash or financing to start a small business, so make sure you look at all options, such as friends, family, government, bank funding and other investors.
  • Passion. Less than half (41 per cent) always had a goal of starting a business, and 34 per cent started one because they needed a job or income. Storsley notes, “We see first-hand that business owners can have different motivations, but they tend to share a passion and commitment to succeed. This may be the difference between being personally vested in your own business and working for someone else.”

Which region in Canada has the most would-be entrepreneurs?
Alberta is the most entrepreneurial province with 75 per cent of poll respondents in that region saying that they had thought of owning a business.


Have thought of owning a business



Atlantic Canada


British Columbia










The RBC Small Business Poll was conducted by Ipsos from August 11-16, 2016. More than 1200 surveys were completed online by Canadian adults, with more than 200 people represented in six different regions (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada). Representative sample results are weighted to reflect the Canadian population. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.2 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population represented. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error.

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Media contacts:
Rob Merk, RBC Corporate Communications, 416-955-6665
Melanie Rockliff, RBC Corporate Communication, 416-974-0232


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