Starting a Canadian Small Business Costs Less Than You Think [Statistics] ©

Intuit Canada has recently released the results of their Canadian entrepreneurship survey of 500 successful Canadian entrepreneurs, and we think you’ll be encouraged by what they found.

Can I Afford to Start a Small Business in Canada?

Canadian small businesses are being built with the tenacity and strong will of our frontier ancestors. With limited resources and little funding, we use intelligence, hard work, and sound financial management to stake our claim in a harsh environment. Over half of the successful Canadian small businesses surveyed launched their business for under $5000, and most of those (77%) are sole proprietors.

Five thousand dollars? How exciting and empowering is that? Most of us can get a credit card limit for that much, which is exactly what 15% of the surveyed Canadian entrepreneurs did. A further 19% used their line of credit and 18% drained their savings account. Taking on more debt or using your nest egg in this economy is risky and we recommend a lot of research and thought before you do it, but if you’re reasonably sure of your success it’s a risk that may pay off in a big way.

There are many web-based businesses that you can start for even less investment (check 5 Quick and Easy Online Businesses to Start in Canada). You don’t need to bet the farm these days, you just have to be willing to work hard and use good survival skills.

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

The top regret (17%) of Canadian entrepreneurs is that they didn’t learn to manage their finances better. For those who started with less than $5000, that percentage of regretful business owners jumps to 51%. Those who underestimated the demands of financial management described the first year as the hardest, with more risky decisions.

A big part of financial success is efficient, organized and accurate record keeping. A surprising 57% of those surveyed were still using a pen & paper for cash flow, payroll, and taxes.

“The increased time these business owners are spending on manual financial management methods is eating into their time, distracting from the priorities they identify as essential to taking their business to the next level.” Intuit noted.

Software like Quickbooks is popular because it’s designed for small businesses and the self-employed. No accounting experience is required to organize your data, and the interface is designed to be intuitive, user-friendly and easy to learn. It streamlines everything with easy imports of contacts and data from Excel®, Outlook®, etc. Best of all, you’re all ready to go at tax time. It’s affordable, and the amount of time and headaches it prevents easily allows it to pay for itself.  We know all of that because we use it for our own business.

Other entrepreneurs wished they had found a mentor (15%), made a business plan (14%), or asked for advice earlier (11%).

Can You Survive Until the Business Takes Off?

Approximately three out of five (57%) Canadian small business owners report that it took one year or less to get their business successfully up and running. Only one in five (18%) say they feel their business is not yet running successfully after a year of operation.

The biggest obstacles to success identified by participants in this survey included:

  • Promoting the business (36%)
  • Funding (19%)
  • Staying motivated (16%)

Virtually Anyone Can Do It!

Canada’s economy is built on a small businesses foundation, according to statistics Canada, providing economic growth, job creation, and long-term prosperity for Canadian families. Small-scale entrepreneurial ventures have created over 600,000 jobs in the last decade (20,000 in the last year alone), contributing to the grand total of 5.1 million Canadian jobs provided by small businesses in this country. That’s an impressive 48% of the total private sector labour force.

Picking the brain of successful entrepreneurs like this survey did is critical to your success. It can save you from making mistakes and allow you to be better prepared for both the challenges and successes of owning your own business in Canada.

This survey demonstrated that you can be successful with a relatively low financial investment. Web-based businesses offer Canadians a cost-effective way to become a successful entrepreneur, with low overhead that ‘brick and mortar’ businesses can’t offer. The biggest and most important investment will be your time and dedication.

Intuit produces TurboTax and Quickbooks, Canada’s leading financial management and accounting software for small businesses and the self-employed.

About the Survey:  Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey between Aug. 16-21, 2012, among a representative sample of Canadian small business owners recruited from the Angus Reid Forum, Canada’s leading online national access panel. The margin of error for a sample of this size is plus-or-minus 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20, and the results have been statistically weighted according to Statistics Canada’s most current age, gender, region, and education Census data.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Drop Shipping / Wholesale for Canadian Sellers
10 Hot Product Niches to Sell or Drop Ship Online in Canada
10 Tips for Taking Product Photos That Sell Online


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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An Internet business can be started for less than five HUNDRED dollars. Information is the new currency and it can be worth a lot if you work hard. The hard part is learning the ropes but it’s possible for the average person because it’s not rocket science but it takes time.


You’re making my dream seem possible all of a sudden. I’m going to give some serious thought to starting my small business……maybe parttime at first.


It takes money to make money but I guess it depends on what you’re doing. Low cost marketing is a possibility these days too.


It would take some creative ideas to pull it off but there are quite a few businesses that can be managed for less than 5Gs. Information products come to mind but even a good blog can make a living.

Lady DaDa

How encouraging! Thanks for sharing this info.


I love how you bring these statistics together. Thanks for all the hard work!