Canadian SMBs are big risk-takers, new survey says

The stereotypical Canadian business person is usually conveyed as conservative with a huge aversion to risk.

But a new study released by Sage Software found a different point of view.

According to Sage Business Index, more than half of business decision makers based in Canada identified risk taking as key attribute to have for growth. About 52 per cent of Canadians describe themselves as risk takers, and 78 per cent of these respondents say they take risks because they believe they need to in order to succeed. Just 27 per cent of Canadian businesses described themselves as risk averse.

Sage surveyed more than 11,000 small and medium-sized businesses in 17 countries including Canada found that, overall, businesses are now more confident than they have been for three years.

For Canadian businesses, the core business priority is winning new customers at 24 per cent, and this is also believed to be the main challenge for growing businesses, which came in at 19 per cent.

However, too much bureaucracy is named the biggest challenge to conducting business in Canada by 19 per cent of the respondents. Nearly half of Canadian businesses (46 per cent) argue that cutting this bureaucracy would be one of the most important things the government should do to help business confidence.

All scores recorded for Sage’s Business Index were the highest since the index began in 2011.

And, Canadian businesses are most confident about their own prospects, which scored 66.80, an increase of 5.73 points on last year. They also believe the Canadian economy is improving, scoring it at 59.43, up from 53.82 in 2012. Similarly, Canada is one of the few places where businesses are optimistic about the global economy, scoring it at 52.55, up from 44.44 in 2012 and 3.95 points higher than the global average.

Nancy Harris, Sage senior vice president and general manager, Canada, said it was refreshing to see Canadian business owners continue to believe in their own ability to effectively run a business and ultimately prosper.

“The continued optimism that small business owners have in both the domestic and global economies, complemented by the confidence they have in their own prospects, bode well. However, there are still a number of areas that need to be addressed, namely, addressing the challenges that businesses face obtaining funding.”

Despite greater optimism, most Canadian businesses feel that banks and the government are behind the curve and are failing to make the most of increased business confidence. More than half (55 per cent) of businesses agree that banks aren’t doing enough to make funding available to small businesses, and a similar proportion (50 per cent) feel that the government needs to put more pressure on banks to lend.

This perceived lack of support from banks and government led to more than half (52 per cent) of businesses agreeing that they need to look at alternative funding sources, Sage said. However, while 37 per cent of businesses feel positive towards peer-to-peer lending and crowd-funding, only two per cent have already used it.

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