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Resilience & optimism amongst Canadian entrepreneurs bodes well for the country’s recovery

87% of business owners feel confident they can recuperate quickly when faced with setbacks: RBC Poll

TORONTO, September 16, 2020 - Adaptability, optimism and ingenuity in the face of challenges have, and continue to be hallmark characteristics of Canadian entrepreneurs. In RBC’s 2020 Small Business Poll, business owners cite greater confidence than the average Canadian to remain resilient – an important trait and sign of optimism as businesses continue to navigate uncertainty and economic recovery in the coming months. When faced with setbacks, nearly 9 out of 10 business owners say they can bounce back, compared to 72% in the general population polled. Similarly, business owners (88%) are more likely than the general population (73%) to report confidence in their ability to deliver creative solutions to problems.

While resilience can be determined by a variety of emotional, behavioural and business preparedness factors, the optimistic attitude of Canadian entrepreneurs will be critical as they rebuild, recover and endure through the challenging conditions posed by the pandemic. According to survey findings, 82% of owners polled expect their business to ride out the pandemic and 22% of owners even expect to prosper in the six months ahead.

“Small businesses – and the inspiring Canadians who build them – have and always will be the backbone of our country’s economy,” said Lori Darlington, Vice-President of Small Business and Strategic Partnerships, RBC. “Especially in these unprecedented times, entrepreneurship requires a great deal of resiliency – and fortunately, a majority of those who pursue it possess the mental strength, adaptability and business acumen needed to weather the ups and the downs of the journey. Building upon these strengths, entrepreneurs can further bolster their businesses by tapping into the right tools and guidance, and taking steps to plan and adjust during the recovery phase.”

Early childhood experiences can shape the resiliency of future entrepreneurs
The resiliency that characterizes and creates Canadian entrepreneurs often finds its roots early on. In fact, more than one-in-three (34%) entrepreneurs polled indicated that they experienced financial distress or instability during childhood, compared to only 20% of Canadians polled overall.

Among those surveyed, entrepreneurs (35%) were more likely than the general population (29%) to have parents who owned a business or were self-employed. Those who were encouraged to earn money through entrepreneurial ventures during childhood had a higher chance of becoming a business owner later on, with 30% of owners reporting early entrepreneurial experiences compared to 24% in the general population.

“As these findings show, resiliency is often forged in the face of challenges,” commented Darlington. “Even as the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes the small business landscape as we know it, the challenges of today promise to pave the way for a strong, new generation of Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses tomorrow.”

Recognizing the value of small businesses, Canadians offer top suggestions for entrepreneurs to support customers and business recovery
Though the resiliency of the country’s entrepreneurs will undoubtedly play a part in preparing businesses against the challenges ahead, the survey also found strong support for small businesses, with 8-in-10 Canadians stating that the pandemic has helped them recognize the value of small businesses in their community.

To capitalize upon this groundswell of support, Canadians had some suggestions for entrepreneurs that may help their recovery and customer interactions in the year ahead.

For example, in light of the ongoing social distancing guidelines to curtail COVID-19, consumers are driving the demand for increased digital solutions to engage with the businesses they frequent. Eighty-eight per cent of those surveyed agreed that businesses will need to offer an end-to-end digital presence to be successful, suggesting that online ordering, touchless payment and social media advertising should be considered less a ‘nice-to-do,’ but rather a key priority for forward-thinking businesses.

In addition, Canadians believe that the top three priorities for businesses in the next 12 months to support their recovery and growth should be: refining their core product or service offerings (61%), contingency planning (57%) and financial prudence (51%).

Top priorities for Canadian businesses over the next 12 months

Canadians polled

Refining core product/service offerings to improve customer experience


Contingency planning for future risks and challenges


Cutting costs and paying down debt


Investing in marketing and sales to reach new customers


Expanding into new markets including new geographic areas or new lines of business


As Canadian business owners begin their journey toward recovery and growth, RBC has a number of tools and resources that go beyond traditional banking solutions to help entrepreneurs adapt and grow their business. Some easy-to-use and digitally-enabled solutions available for RBC clients include:

  • Ownr, a quick, affordable and online way to get your business registered or incorporated;
  • A selection of business account packages that can be opened through a simple, online and virtual advisor-assisted process that can also be used for those with multiple owners;
  • A simple and integrated e-Commerce and payment solution through Moneris + Bookmark to start and grow your online business; and
  • Digitally-enabled third-party solutions like Magnet, ADP, League and Wello to attract talent, effectively manage payroll and employee health and wellness benefits, and virtually support the mental and physical health of employees.

Entrepreneurs can access many of these tools, resources and business advice at the RBC Small Business Navigator hub online at

About the survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of RBC between June 8 and 10, 2020. For this survey, a sample of n = 2000 Canadians aged 18+ was surveyed online via the Ipsos I-Say sample and non-panel sources. Of this sample, n=320 were business owners. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample reflects the population parameters of Canada and to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results of the poll are considered accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would be had all Canadian adults been polled. The interval is ±6.2 percentage points among business owners.

About RBC
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