Survey: What does a typical small B.C. business look like?

We surveyed B.C.’s small business owners to find out how they’re doing. Are they exporting in 2015—and if so, to where? Do they expect to grow this year or contract? Do they plan on acquiring or being acquired? Do they have a succession plan? A business plan? A hiring plan? The answers may surprise you

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Report after report through the first half of 2015 confirmed one thing above all else: B.C. is expected to lead the nation in economic growth this year. And our survey of 612 small business owners in British Columbia, conducted in late June and early July by Insights West, mirrors that optimism, with almost half of respondents expecting growth of six per cent or more over the next year. “I think everybody seems to be fairly buoyant about the future,” says Mario Canseco, vice president of public affairs for Insights West. “Overall, everybody expects to do better.”

Optimistic, yes—but sensible? One of the more startling findings from our survey was how few small business owners were prepared for the future: only 31 per cent said they have a formal business plan, and just half that amount—16 per cent—said they have a succession plan. And while those numbers might be expected of the very smallest of small businesses, it also holds true for businesses worth over $50 million—businesses, in short, that should know better. Only 52 per cent of owners here said they have a formal business plan, while only 42 per cent have a succession plan. “Essentially, you have more than half of these businesses not having thought of what’s going to happen once the owner isn’t there,” notes Canseco. “It’s crazy!”

A few of the other gems to come out of the research: the smaller you are, the more diversified your export markets (assuming you do, in fact, export—and only 17 per cent of B.C. small businesses surveyed do). Almost seven in 10 small business owners have never (that’s right: never) invested any money in business intelligence (things like data analysis and benchmarking). And only 33 per cent of small business owners agree with the statement, “Attracting new employees is a top priority for my business.”

>> See the results of our exclusive survey. Click here <<