Small Business Week (SBW) runs Oct. 14–20 this year, an annual event featuring activities and events across the country to recognize and celebrate entrepreneurship in Canada.
Organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) for 33 years, this year’s theme is “Aim High! Invest in Your Future.”
“Accounting for 98 percent of all businesses in our country, small businesses truly are the backbone of the Canadian economy, and our government is committed to ensuring that small business owners have the opportunities and tools they need to invest, innovate, and grow in today’s ever-changing global environment,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement.
According to Statistics Canada’s December 2011 Business Register, 98.1 percent of Canada’s 1,122,306 businesses have fewer than 100 employees. Among them, 54.9 percent have 1–4 employees and 43.2 percent have 5–99 employees.
Adding in medium-sized businesses, which have 100–499 employees and account for 1.7 percent of all businesses in Canada, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make up 99.8 percent of all Canadian companies.
And SMEs employed 63.7 percent of workers in the private sector in 2011, representing 6.8 million people across Canada, and in 2005 SMEs contributed 54.3 percent of GDP produced in the business sector, according to Statistics Canada.
Investing in Business Productivity
This year’s theme speaks to the need to invest in people, technology, and business skills to build better and more competitive companies both in Canada and abroad.
A key problem to address is Canada’s lagging productivity due to too little investment in business productivity, such as new electronics and machines, skills training, and development of new products and processes, the bank stated in a factsheet.
It noted that Canada ranks last among the G7 countries in investment in advanced machinery and equipment, and investment in information and communication technologies (ICT) is especially inadequate. “A new smartphone isn’t just fun—it’s good for business,” the bank stated.
ICT accounts for 2.45 percent of GDP in Canada compared to 3.98 percent in the U.S., and from 2008 to 2011, labour productivity growth was -0.29 percent in Canada compared with 2.2 percent in the U.S.
BDC president and CEO Jean-René Halde highlighted the difference that this makes: “What would you do if $210,000 suddenly appeared in your bank account? That’s how much money every Canadian might have earned over the past 35 years if Canada had the same productivity growth as the U.S.”
Importance of Training, Growth
The bank also said that Canadian businesses undervalue investment in education and skills training, with only one in five SMEs considering it a priority.
Other intangible assets that play key roles in generating new ideas and better ways of doing things include research and development, business processes and best practices, external contacts and partnerships, and market development and supply chain management.
The theme this year also emphasizes the importance of business growth, which in turn leads to more jobs and more tax revenue to pay for public services, as well as boosting a company’s productivity and competitiveness due to the economies of scale.
In addition, this year sees the launch of Canada’s “Small Business Saturday,” where hundreds of participating small businesses across Canada will be offering local deals and special promotions to customers on Oct. 20. Visit https://www.shopsmallbiz.ca/ for more information.
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