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September 10, 2001 Volume 4, Number 7


* Introduction - Editor's Comments

* What's New at

* Statistics Canada releases

* How clear is the Dot Com Crystal Ball?

* Small Business Stats Facts



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We are back!

Welcome to this issue of the BR Newsletter.

I could say that we have been away on holidays for the last 2 months but alas we have been in the midst of another nightmare move! As before, anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I know a lot more about sub-flooring now that I ever wished to know!

We have finally come to our senses at GDSourcing and hired another full-time person. I would like to welcome Vanessa Fairbanks to the team. She will help us to operate much more efficiently in the future. Watch for some changes in the web site.

I would like to thank everyone who responded to our survey. The response rate was much higher than we expected. The overwhelming majority of respondents told us to keep things exactly they way they are! So we have. For those few who thought the newsletter was too long, we have tried to space out the page better so that you can easily view those sections of interest.

On August 27, 2001, Statistics Canada has released the 1999 issue of Spending Patterns in Canada. This publication presents statistical highlights and key tables from the Survey of Household Spending.

This annual survey collects information about expenditures by households and families in Canada on a wide variety of goods and services and also about their dwelling characteristics, and ownership of household equipment such as appliances, audio and video equipment, and vehicles.

The publication includes analytical text, summary level tables, a detailed table, notes and definitions, and information about survey methodology and data quality.

This publication is a standard reference book of any library or business development centre that assists new entrepreneurs. The Statistics Canada price is $45.00. GDSourcing is offering a 20% discount. If you would like to order a copy for $36.00 simple fax us a company purchase order or credit card information along with shipping details to 905-332-3740.

If you are looking for detailed statistics on a specific household expenditure, we can also access unpublished data from this database. Contact us by e-mail for more information (

Thank you for your subscription.

I hope you find this issue helpful.

John White

Editor, BRN





The following web sites were added to the GDSourcing index over the summer GDSourcing is a reference point for free Canadian statistics on-line.



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- results of public opinion polls



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- furniture buying habits of Canadian consumers



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- results of public opinion polls



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- Television viewing in Canada


GDSourcing Site Summary:

- Economic reports from bank economists

- Small Business performance



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- HR surveys of the High Tech sector







The following statistics were release by Statistics Canada over the last three weeks. We have listed those releases we feel are of the most interest to Canadian entrepreneurs.

Very few of these statistics are available on-line. The URL listed is a direct link to the press release associated with the data. It provides contact and ordering information.

Many of these releases are related to unpublished databases however where publications are available we have listed the Stats Can prices as well as our own 20% discount price. If you would like to order a publication send us an e-mail at Put "StatsCan" in the subject line of your e-mail. Someone from our office will contact you promptly.

NB: to access free publications listed follow the URL indicated.



Agriculture value added account 1999 (revised)and 2000


Balance sheet of the agricultural sector at December 31 1999 (revised)and 2000


Farm business cash flows 1999 (revised)and 2000


Principal field crop areas 2001 (preliminary)


Farm operators' total income 1999


Potato production 2001 (preliminary)


Production and value of ranch-raised pelts 2000 (preliminary)




Private television broadcasters 2000


Private radio broadcasters 2000




Biotechnology Firm Survey 1997


International trade in services 2000


The evolving workplace: human resource practices 1999

(Free publication)




National Construction Industry Wage Rate Survey 2000


Private and public investment 2001 (revised intentions)





Family income 1999


Income of individuals 1999


Spending patterns in Canada 1999

Stats Can price $45.00 GDSourcing price - $36.00




Interprovincial productivity differences 1996-97




Trends in the use of private education 1987/88 to 1998/99


University finances 1999/2000


University tuition fees 2001/02


Registered apprenticeship training 1999


Adult education participation in North America 1994-1998

(Free publication)




Electric power generation, transmission and distribution 1999


Energy consumption by manufacturing industries 2000 (preliminary)


Oil and gas extraction industry: Capital and operating expenditures 2000


Oil and gas extraction industry: Volume and value of marketable production 2000




Retirement savings through employer pension plans and registered retirement savings plans 1999


Survey of Financial Security: Estimating the value of employer pension plan benefits

(Free publication)




Family violence: focus on child abuse and children at risk 2001

(Free Publication)


Food insecurity in Canadian households 1998/99


National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating 2000

(Free publication)


Mental health statistics 1998/99


Residential Care Facilities Survey 1998/99 (preliminary)




Traveller accommodation services price indexes




Household Internet Use Survey 2000


Internet use among older Canadians 2000

(Free publications)




Adult correctional services 1999/2000


Graphical overview of the criminal justice indicators 1999/2000

Stats Can price - $26.00 GDSourcing price - $20.80


Crime statistics 2000


A profile of criminal victimization: results of the General Social Survey 1999

(Free publication)


Legal aid 1999/2000




Innovation in Canadian manufacturing: National estimates 1999

(Free Publication)


Annual Survey of Manufacturers 1999


Energy consumption by manufacturing industries 2000 (preliminary)




Telecommunication services price indexes 1999


Cable and wireless program distribution 2000


Telecommunications services 1999


Survey of the taxi and limousine service industry 1999 (preliminary)


Airport activity statistics 2000 (preliminary)


The future for Canada-U.S. container port rivalries

(Free publication)


For-hire trucking, commodity origin and destination 2000 (preliminary)


Canadian Vehicle Survey Annual 2000

(free publication)




Control and sale of alcoholic beverages 1999/2000


Annual wholesale trade data 1998






When you are researching an Internet venture it is easy to get caught up in the spectacular growth rates forecasted. Certainly the dot com melt down has tempered some enthusiasm for the future of the Internet but substantial positive growth is still anticipated by most analysts.

Forecast figures are helpful in fleshing out a business plan, but entrepreneurs should not focus their entire business strategy on them. Stop and consider the purpose and reliability of such figures. They should enhance your business plan not define it!

We recently examined the accuracy of basic Internet forecasts by leading communications firms. While this might seem a straightforward project it was not always easy to find comparable data. Methodologies and industry definitions (such as e-commerce) are often obfuscated so that under scrutiny each firm is actually forecasting something slightly different, and in some cases changing their own definitions from year to year. It is hard to examine a moving target!

Moreover, if you are going to reflect on the accuracy of forecasts you need to decide on a respected benchmark. The baseline for economic forecasts (GDP, Unemployment Rate, and Inflation Rate) is Statistics Canada. So it seemed logical given their sample size and plodding methodology that their figures make an appropriate benchmark. The lack of any scathing indictments of Statistics Canada's Internet data also suggested a level of industry respect. Finally and perhaps most importantly, Statistics Canada does not sell Internet forecasts, their entire focus is on creating an accurate picture of the past.

The basic question most e-commerce businesses want answered is how many Canadians have access to the Internet and how will it grow in the future? In 1999 the following forecasts were made for the year 2000:

38% of the Canadian population or 11.6 million people will have access to the Internet (Source: IDC, 1999) and 4 million households will be on-line. (Source: The Yankee Group, 1999)

According to their latest figures, Statistics Canada reported that in 2000, 53% of the Canadian population over 15 (13 million) or 51% of households (6 million) had access to the Internet.

When reality outperforms a forecast it can be a pleasant surprise for a small business owner. (Unless of course they are unable to meet demand!). Canadian Internet penetration rates have grown faster than expected by many industry analysts.

Ideally however, you want your forecasts to match actual performance as closely as possible. In early 1999 The Yankee Group forecasted that for the year 1999 20% of Internet households in Canada would make a purchase on-line and that total purchases would be valued at $500 million.

Statistics Canada's most recent report on Internet shopping (1999 data) reports that 25% of Internet households reported making a purchase on-line with a total overall value of $417 million. In this case the forecast and actual figures match remarkably well.

If an exact match is the best case scenario for a forecast, falling short of expected performance is the worst case. That is when you wished you had consulted a Magic 8 Ball instead of purchasing a consultant's report!

In 1999 IDC forecasted that e-commerce in Canada for the year 2000 would be $18.3 billion. 83% of that figure would be business to business sales and 17% would be business to consumer.

Statistics Canada's latest data however paints a less vibrant picture. Total e-commerce in Canada for 2000 was $7.2 billion, less than half of the IDC forecast. (Although give IDC credit for forecasting the B2B, B2C split accurately.) Now, before you go away with the impression that the Internet is a flop, keep in mind that e-commerce still grew by 73.4% or $3 billion dollars between 1999 and 2000.

So what is an entrepreneur to do with all these figures? Forecasts can be accurate, too low or too high. IDC claims to have a 70% accuracy rate on its forecasts but of course that stills mean they are wrong nearly a third of the time!

The solution to this research dilemma is to keep the importance of forecast figures in perspective. Consider for example how you decide what to wear in the morning. Canadian weather forecasts with all their satellite and computer models are accurate only 61% of the time when you do not consider minor temperature variations. Precise weather forecasts with exact temperature predictions occur only 14.6% of the time in a given year.

Not surprisingly therefore most of us not only listen to the weather report but also look out the window at the sky, examine the thermometer in the backyard, see what other people are wearing, and perhaps even step outside for a moment to make our own assessment.

Researching a business whether it be on-line or not is no different. All relevant forecasts provide insight but to understand market conditions you need to talk to people already in business. You need to look at past performance, current benchmarks, competitive trends, and market activity. You need to create a complete picture of your business and the conditions under which it will operate.

When using Internet predictions we recommend you consult as many sources as possible. While we used Statistics Canada data above as a benchmark most entrepreneurs will find that beyond basic performance figures most Statistics Canada data is not specific enough for their particular Internet venture. Moreover, the age of the data is sometimes crippling. 1999 data for Internet shopping is too old for 2001! It is useful as an historic baseline but you really need more current estimates.

Whenever possible you want to look at as many forecasts as possible. This will provide you with high and low growth scenarios. It will also give you an idea on where different analysts actually agree (e.g. every analyst believes that the number of on-line shoppers will increase over the next five years. Where they disagree is in how quickly that number will grow.).

The Canadian Research Centre for Internet Businesses at the GDSourcing web site has a growing list of Internet sources for Canadian statistics. You will want to consult the figures from all relevant sites. (

If you have any sort of research budget, I highly recommend you purchase the eCanada report from eMarketer. It combines original analysis with aggregated statistics from of industry and government sources. Where there are conflicting estimates they provide you with all of them as well as their own insights. Certainly you can compile a similar report yourself from scratch but the time involved would be enormous. For more information see the Canadian Research Centre for Internet Businesses ( under latest news and data.

Do not base the success of your business on enthusiastic predictions. It is one thing to be cutting edge. It is another to be ahead of your market. Take advantage of the market opportunities that exist today not the ones that you hope will exist tomorrow.






Each Business Researcher Newsletter ends with a collection of five statistics that every entrepreneur should be aware of.


1. What percentage of new Canadian firms started between 1990 and 1998 were micro firms (less than 5 employees)?

Firms with less than five employees accounted for 95% of the 1.3 million new private- and public-sector employers identified from 1990 to 1998.

Scotiabank (July 2001).


2. Are Canadian small business owners optimistic?

A survey conducted by Scotiabank and Goldfarb Consultants finds the majority of Canadian small business owners are confident about the future of their business (75 per cent), and are also optimistic about the future of the country's economy (62 per cent).

Nearly two-fifths (37 per cent) of small business owners surveyed said they are likely to expand their business within the next year. Of those who plan to expand, 60 per cent will require additional financing illustrating the level of optimism in the small business community.

Scotiabank /Goldfarb (July 2001)



3. What is the most common age group for micro business owners?

38% are between the age of 40 and 49 years

28% are between the age of 50 and 59 years old.

Source: Statistics Canada



4. Are micro-businesses an important source of income?

The micro business is the sole source of income for 54% of micro business owners and the most important source of income for another 26%.

The rest of micro business owners (20%) do not consider their business to be an important source of income.

Source: Statistics Canada



5. How are micro businesses performing?

Over a four year period 10% of micro business saw their sales more than double.

On the other hand 43% saw sales grow by 20% or less and 9% had declining sales.

Source: Statistics Canada



G D S O U R C I N G - R E S E A R C H & R E T R I E V A L

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UPDATED: 05/12/03
1998-2003  GDSourcing - Research & Retrieval