TORONTO: Despite political and economic disquiet around the globe, eBay Canada's second annual SMB Optimism Index report reveals that 76 per cent of Canadian retail small and medium business owners (SMBs) are optimistic about their future business prospects, up 20 percentage points from last year.
Three-quarters also believe that Canada is a good country in which to run their business. In fact, SMBs overall scored 75 out of a 100-point index scale ranking their level of optimism from 0 (the most pessimistic) to 100 (the most optimistic) - one full point higher than last year, indicating an upward trend in optimism.
Like last year, results from the report reveal that increased optimism correlates with exporting; however, optimism among SMBs who export is waning this year, as this group dropped a point on the Index scale. Further, more than 40 per cent of SMB owners reported not having confidence in the Canadian government to negotiate international trade deals, like NAFTA, that will benefit their business.
"Exporting is a catalyst for Canadian SMBs looking to scale and reach their full potential, so it's imperative that our country remains steadfast in its global approach to trade," says Andrea Stairs, managing director, eBay Canada. "eBay is an enabling technology, giving Canadian businesses of any size, from anywhere, the ability to reach customers across the country and around the world. When enabling technologies are combined with inclusive trade measures, we create an environment of incredible opportunities for Canadian SMBs, which benefits our overall economy."
Other factors that continue to contribute to the optimism momentum include online and omni-channel sales strategies: SMB owners leveraging these tactics are more likely than their counterparts to be optimistic across all business performance factors measured in the report. For example, these SMBs are more likely to believe that there are sales growth opportunities for their businesses both within and outside of Canada.
As for challenges, those most commonly reported by Canadian SMB owners include tough domestic competition (37%), low margins (36%) and a small customer base in Canada (34%), with more entrepreneurs reporting these challenges this year versus last year.
Similar challenges were reported by Canadian eBay commercial sellers, who were also surveyed for the report. This group of entrepreneurs indexed two points higher than the average retail SMB and reported greater participation in exporting and omni-channel strategies. These findings are exemplified by the winners of eBay Canada's 13th annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards - a program that recognizes e-commerce excellence in this country.
"We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate the great Canadian entrepreneurial spirit that we see through our vibrant eBay seller community," says Stairs. "Though this year's winners have uniquely inspirational stories, they all share the common theme of leveraging the power of e-commerce to build million-dollar businesses."
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