Entrepreneurial aspirations hit four-year high as Canadians believe the pandemic has created new opportunities for small businesses: RBC Poll


The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many Canadian small businesses over the last year. Yet, many entrepreneurs among them also managed to find new opportunities in the face of adversity. Despite the pandemic’s impact on the economy, Canadians’ business aspirations have hit a four-year high, according to the most recent RBC Small Business Poll, with more than half (55%) of Canadians polled saying they have thought about owning a business. Moreover, among the business owners who were polled, nearly a quarter (24%) said they started their business during the pandemic.

“Canadian entrepreneurs have faced a myriad of challenges over the last 15 months, and it’s made for some devastating headlines. But we’re also hearing countless stories of entrepreneurs who are finding ways to turn these challenges into new opportunities for growth and change,” says Don Ludlow, Vice-President of Small Business, Partnerships & Strategy, RBC. “The entrepreneurial spirit is stronger than ever and business ownership is increasingly being seen as a viable career path for many Canadians in light of the opportunities created by the pandemic. As the economy re-opens, their success will be critical in driving job creation and employment, and accelerating our economic recovery and growth.”

Regionally, entrepreneurial aspirations were highest in Ontario (63%), Alberta (62%) and British Columbia (59%).








Those who thought of owning
a business








The pandemic has created
new opportunities for small








Source: 2021 RBC Small Business Poll, Ipsos Canada, April 16-19, 2021

Cautiously optimistic outlook on entrepreneurship
Seven-in-ten (69%) aspiring entrepreneurs – those who have thought about owning a business but have yet to own one – perceive business ownership as an option that offers more control over their career than traditional employment. Perhaps it is this sense of control that has led four-in-ten (41%) aspiring entrepreneurs to say the pandemic has made them more likely to want to start a business.

Even as the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue, Canadians overall remain hopeful about the prospect of entrepreneurship, with more than half (58%) polled agreeing that COVID-19 has created new opportunities for small businesses. This could be attributed to the fact that one-third of Canadians (33%) surveyed witnessed new businesses starting up during the pandemic, particularly among millennials (48%) and Gen Z (53%).

Support for small businesses continues to grow
Public support for small business has grown stronger compared to last year with 84 per cent of respondents saying that they are choosing to buy from small businesses in their community whether in person or online. This support is especially strong in Atlantic Canada with 90 per cent of respondents.

This support has been critical to help keep businesses afloat during the most challenging phases of this prolonged pandemic, and will continue to be a significant lifeline for businesses as the economy begins reopening across the country.

Helping entrepreneurs start, manage and grow their business
For aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their business and Canadian business owners looking to recover and grow, RBC offers several solutions that go beyond traditional banking to help entrepreneurs save time and money as they manage their day-to-day business operations. These include:

  • Ownr, a quick and affordable way to register, incorporate and manage your business online;
  • selection of business accounts that can be opened through a simple, online and virtual advisor-assisted process – even for businesses with multiple owners;
  • RBC Insight Edge™ for Small Business – winner of Aite Group’s 2020 Innovation Impact Awardthis dashboard solution offers subscribed retail businesses with real-time data insights around customer trends, competitive benchmarks and market intelligence to support business decisions;
    A simple, integrated e-Commerce and payment solution through our exclusive Moneris + Bookmark offering to start and grow your online business; and
  • Digitally-enabled third-party solutions such as:
    • Magnet to effectively attract and hire young talent to meet your business needs;
    • ADP to simplify your payroll and human resources management;
    • GrantMatch to explore government funding opportunities based on your company’s profile and needs; and
    • Wello to provide your employees with virtual health and wellness resources to support intermittent, urgent and mental health care needs.

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