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Oct 3, 2001 Volume 4, Number 8


* Introduction - Editor's Comments

* What's New at

* Statistics Canada releases

* Canadian Micro Business Profile

* Quick facts on local markets

* Small Business Stats Facts



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Welcome to the latest issue of the BR Newsletter.

We are currently in the process of reorganizing our web site so that browsing for relevant data sources will be more effective. This may result in a few temporary internal dead links over the next couple of weeks. We will try to keep them to a minimum and correct them as soon as possible.

I would like to thank Marcelle Lafontaine of the Canada Business Service Centres National Secretariat for her review of Researching a Small Business 2001. We are proud that she found the publication useful and easy to use:

"I was very happy to receive and to assess your excellent research guide "Researching a Small Business 2001".

We are recommending it to our Canada Business Service Centres across Canada. I found that it not only contained a vast amount of useful information but that it was presented in a clear and simple manner, with all pertinent websites and addresses included. I especially liked the fact that the material was Canadian and I found the price quite reasonable."

For more information about our research guide, please see our web site at:

I would also like to thank everyone who took advantage of our Spending Patterns offer. We did not expect the response we got! It was fantastic. We are glad to be able to help so many people save money on Statistics Canada publications.

By the way, for those who missed it last month. We are offering the Households Spending publication Spending Patterns in Canada at a discounted price of $36.00 (retail price from Stats Can $45.00).

For more information on this publication see:

If you would like to order a copy at our discount price simply fax us a company purchase order or credit card information along with shipping details to 905-332-3740.

Finally, I would just like to mention a site we came across the other day. We get a lot of odd e-mail queries looking for very strange statistics. If you have such a request yourself you might try

There is quite a lot of Canadian data there. Enough to satisfy most trivia buffs. (E.g. did you know that a Canadian invented the "pie-in-the-face" gag? (For details see:

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:

- data on physicians and health care in Canada



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- workplace indicators (e.g. security, job design, work schedules etc.)



GDSourcing Site Summary:

- brief profile of motorcyclists in Canada






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.



Trends in early retirement 1997 to 2000


Biotechnology Survey 1997

(Free publication available online)




Trends in personal gifts and charitable donations 1969 to 1997

(Free publication available online)




Migration 1999/2000


Population estimates July 1, 2001 (preliminary)




Education Price Index 1999




Domestic travel 1996 and 1997 (revised)




Annual Survey of Manufacturers 1999


Challenges to advanced technology adoption

(Research papers available free of charge online)


Innovation in Canadian manufacturing: Provincial estimates 1999

(Research paper available free of charge online)




Aquaculture statistics 2000 (preliminary)




Domestic travel 1996 and 1997 (revised)







A great deal has been written on the small business sector in Canada, however, its smaller cousin the micro business sector has often been eclipsed or altogether forgotten. This is a first annual check up of the micro business sector.

In December 2000, Statistics Canada identified 604,445 micro businesses in Canada (businesses with 1 to 4 employees). They account for 57.9% of all employer firms. However between 1990 and 1998 micro businesses accounted for 95% of new employer businesses.

The biggest challenge of these smallest of small businesses is survival: nearly 1 in 4 fail within their first year in operation. And even after 5 years in business, they are half as likely to survive as their small, medium and large business cousins.

Furthermore they are also less likely to grow into larger firms. At any given time 1 in 5 (22%) are strictly in survival mode: they are established as a business but yet to turn a profit. Only 1.07% of firms with less than 10 employees will grow to the next size category within a ten-year period. Even less (0.02%) will grow to more than 100 employees. Small businesses (with more than 10 employees) are 5 times as likely to the next size category over the same period.

It should be noted however that significant growth is not a priority for many micro business owners. 20% do not considered the business to be the most important source of household income. In fact only 1 in 2 (54%) indicate that their business is their primary and only source of income.

With these kinds of survival odds who would want to run a micro business and why?

First of all the sheer desire to be an entrepreneur runs deep among Canadians. Almost half of those who do not already operate a business say they are interested in started one.

On average micro business owners are male (77%) and between the ages of 40 and 49 years old (38%) however individual industry sectors influence gender and age. For example 41% of owners in the accommodation and other services sector are women while 44% of micro business owners in the health and social services sector are 50-59 years old.

Education is a significant factor for some sectors (e.g. business and financial services) but overall less than half (44%) of micro business owners have a post secondary education.

So why start a micro business? Nearly 1 in 2 owners started their business to become their own boss. Many had role models to follow. 49% of micro business owners have a close relative such as a parent or sibling who owns a business.

There is also the dream of working from home! Overall 46% of micro businesses are home-based. This represents a significant increase from 1996 when only 30% were operated from home. Specific industry sectors greatly influence the likelihood of working from home. The most likely home-based businesses are Agriculture (81%), Construction (74%) and Business Services (47%) with Retail being the least likely (15%)

Canadian entrepreneurs may dream of workplace freedom but they are cautious. Only 30% said they were prepared to risk major personal assets to make their business grow.

Micro businesses have however had an impact on bank loans to the small business sector. Between 1998 and 2000, the number of loans classified as micro business (less than $25,000) rose by 9.8% vs. 1.3% for small business ($25,000 to $500,000) and 4.8% for medium and large businesses ($500,000 plus).

In 2000 micro business loans represented 42.5% of all business loans made in Canada, up nearly 2% of overall market share since 1998.

Micro businesses are putting that money to good use. Financial performance is also showing improvement. Between 1997 and 1999 businesses grossing under $500,000 in revenue saw their profit margins increase by a full percentage from 1.9% to 2.9% as compared to the 0.4% increase demonstrated by small businesses ($500,000 to $5 million revenue).

In 1997 (the most current data available) the average profit for micro businesses in Canada was $11,000 or 16% of gross operating revenue. This represents a real increase in profit over 1993 when the average was $10,700 or 14.3% of gross operating revenue.

This profile is meant as a reality check and report card for micro business in Canada. While perhaps straight "A"s are still in the future, this exciting sector is showing considerable promise that needs to be recognized as distinct and as dynamic as the small business sector at large.





When you are starting a new business it is a good idea to get a quick overview of your local market's demographics and economic performance. There are a number of readily available resources you can consult to achieve this.

At the Statistics Canada web site, highlight information from the 1996 is available for local communities. The mapping feature helps you to pin point your market as well as neighboring markets. This data is strictly demographic.

The Industry Canada "Invest in Canada" web site provides links to local community information in each province. Detail varies from province to province however each profile generally provides basic demographic data as well as information on utilities, taxation and community life.

This site also has a section that provides economic data by major metropolitan area. Most of the information is 1999 estimates.

HRDC Labour Market Information is another source for local market data. Data covered can include salary profiles, local economic data, commentaries on local corporate expansion and closures etc. Locate your local regional HRDC web site for further information on business conditions in your market.

Also do not forget to look at your local municipal government web site. Many municipalities use their web sites to attract businesses to their community. They identify industry trends, market demographics, competitive environment etc.

Most municipal government web sites use the following URL protocol:

With "Markham" and "ON" changing to the appropriate community and province.

Finally, the most up to date and easily accessible local market data is the publication "FP Markets: Canadian Demographics". The latest issue provides 2001 estimates of population demographics, retail sales, market psychographics, economic performance etc. It is not available on-line but it can be found in most reference libraries and business development centres. You can also purchase it online at:

When researching your market you will want to gather more detailed information than the above sources provide. They do however provide you with a solid starting point and give your a framework to make your own forecasts and estimates.





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


1. What percentage of the Canada Notebook market do Canadian Small Businesses represent?


Channel Business (May 21, 2001).


2. At Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. what % of the students enrolled in the executive MBA program are entrepreneurs?


"The motivation for most entrepreneurs is essentially to professionalize their skills," says Dr. Danny Szpiro, director of the Queen's EMBA program. "They are obviously bright and motivated, and their individual needs are often specific to their experience, but the common thread seems to be a realization that they need a broader set of skills to bring their organization to the next level."

Source: National Post Sept 10, 2001


3. How much do small businesses use the Internet?

Business managers indicated a relatively low level of use of the Internet by their businesses. People were asked to assess the extent to which their business uses the Internet for business purposes, not including employees using it for personal reasons (7-point scale: '1' is not at all and '7' is a great deal).

Not only do almost half the population say they do not use it at all for business purposes, about half of the rest report only minimal usage. Only one-quarter provided scores above the mid-point on the scale (and just 14% use it a lot, scores of 6-7).

This suggests that the relatively high levels of Internet access reported by small businesses here (at the Strategis web site) and elsewhere may significantly overstate the volume of business activity actually pursued on-line by small businesses.

Industry Canada - Compas Research February 2001


4. What activities have small businesses done online in the last year?

Sought business information 83%

Communicated with clients 77%

Bought products or services 50%

Visited government web sites 50%

Sold products or services 33%

Online recruitment 16%

Industry Canada - Compas Research February 2001


5. What are the most important issues facing Canadian small business?

Business managers point to a considerable range of items when asked to identify the most important issue or challenge facing their business at this time. However, growth-related issues top the list.

1. Competition

2. Attracting new customers

3. Accessing capital/financing

3. Growth (how to grow)

5. Recruitment of new employees

5. Rising Costs

NB: There is a tie for number 3 and number 5

Industry Canada - Compas Research February 2001




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: 07/31/03
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