Help for the would-be entrepreneur

By Kate McCaffery | October 4, 2005 | Last updated on October 4, 2005
3 min read

(October 4, 2005) A huge chunk of the Canadian workforce — nearly one million people — would like to start their own business. A recent RBC survey also shows that many aspiring entrepreneurs have expectations that are not necessarily in line with the reality of self-employment.

It could be useful to arm yourself with the latest RBC Financial Group survey and keep it handy in case one of your clients happens to be considering making the leap themselves. The survey compared the responses of aspiring entrepreneurs to a sample of existing Canadian small and medium-size business owners.

It found many aspiring entrepreneurs say they want more control. More than 80% of those who plan to start a business in the next five years say they want to be their own boss. Additionally, 68% say income is a big motivation for their entrepreneurial aspirations, and 22% think they will be able to take more vacation time.

Current business owners are of the same mind in some of those areas. They agree there is benefit to having flexible working hours and both groups believe self-employment makes it easier to manage family commitments. At the same time though, only 42% say the money is a good reason to be self-employed and just 14% say they benefit from added vacation time.

On the money side of the equation, 42% of would-be entrepreneurs are highly optimistic about their finances, saying they expect their total household income will increase within the first year of starting their business. Realistically, only 34% of current business owners said their incomes increased during that time. Another 35% said their household income decreased during their first year in business.

Despite the challenges associated with starting a business, RBC vice president of business markets Louise Mitchell says making sure new businesses succeed is in the best interests of every Canadian, given that the sector employs six out of every 10 people. “It is extremely important for aspiring entrepreneurs to seek the advice of current business owners, professionals and financial institutions before getting started,” she says.

Estimates suggest nearly half-a-million small business owners are going to retire in the next five years, resulting in a wealth transfer of more than $1 trillion before 2010. With that in mind, many advisors immediately focus on estate and succession planning when confronted with entrepreneurial clients. For those who are just getting into the game however, there are a number of resources available to help.

Canada Business ( combines wisdom from 43 different Government of Canada departments, provincial and territorial governments and some not for profit organizations to create a resource of links on numerous issues such as business startup steps, tax considerations, payroll deductions and corporate income tax, importing, exporting, financing and human resources.

General topics include a section on financial planning for business owners that covers a range of subjects, including breakeven analysis, basic proposals for tender, basic bookkeeping, pricing, profit analysis and ways to deal with lending institutions.

Industry Canada’s website for entrepreneurs can be found at In addition to company directory links, statistics and economic analysis and business information by sector, the site provides information on bankruptcy, copyrights, patents and trademarks and federal incorporation.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is a lobby group and information resource that can provide advice and support for businesses dealing with governments or other issues like taxation, banking and regulations. For more on the CFIB, click here.

For would-be entrepreneurs between 18 and 34 years of age, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (, founded in 1996 in Canada by CIBC and RBC Foundation, is a national charitable organization that provides start-up financing, mentoring and educational resources to help young Canadians start and grow businesses which contribute to sustainable economic development in communities across Canada.

The most comprehensive list of resources, however, can be found at the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) website. Visit the CBA at and access the small business services link, under consumer information.

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Kate McCaffery