CBC News – Money – The mood among Canada’s small businesses may surprise you

SMALL BUSINESS

The mood among Canada’s small businesses may surprise you

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | 4:17 PM ET 

Dianne Buckner has reported on entrepreneurs for two decades. She hosts Dragons' Den on CBC Television and is part of the business news team at CBC News Network.

Dianne Buckner has reported on entrepreneurs for two decades. She hosts Dragons’ Den on CBC Television and is part of the business news team at CBC News Network.

Energized! Subdued. Optimistic! Frightened.

Which word do you think best describes the mood of small business people in Canada these days?

That’s the question I found myself pondering, shortly after CBC asked me to begin writing this weekly column about small business.

Getting a status report from those on the front lines as our economy battles its way back to better times seemed like a good place for me to start.

First, a bit of background: I’ve been reporting on entrepreneurs since I was hired in 1991 to be a reporter at Venture, CBC’s long-running and popular business program. Eventually I became the host and executive producer of that program. Nowadays, I host Dragons’ Den, which begins its fifth season tonight, and I’m part of the team of business reporters at CBC News.

So I’m connected to small business people in a number of ways. I’m interested in their mood — as a journalist, yes, but also as a citizen who understands their role in the overall health of our economy, and therefore my own prospective prosperity.

Entrepreneurs in ‘subdued’ mood: economist

Depending on the year and on whose numbers you believe, small businesses create 30 per cent to 80 per cent of the new jobs in an economy. That’s a big deal.

And it’s a brave and demanding undertaking. People who decide to build businesses are creative, resourceful, committed and incredibly hard-working. I’ve loved being involved with programs that inspire and inform or even just entertain entrepreneurs.

So what do I know about their mood right now?

Well, there’s the latest survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. According to its monthly Business Barometer, a regular survey of 1,000 small business people, their confidence has dropped for the third month in a row.

“Subdued” is the word the group’s chief economist, Ted Mallet, offered to describe the mood of entrepreneurs right now. He points out all the negative economic indicators that fill the headlines these days — flagging real estate, weak employment growth, financial woes south of the border.

Business interests’ mood matters

But do those headlines influence the mood of small business people?

“No,” says Kevin Jackson. He’s a Gormley, Ont.-based entrepreneur I met recently at a business event. His company, Biz-Zone, sells web-based software to professional organizations. He also runs a resource website for small business people.

“In my opinion, small business people are most closely connected to three things,” Jackson told me. “Cash flow, their customers and their sales activities.”

https://i0.wp.com/www.gmal.co.uk/SiteCollectionImages/small-business-web.jpg

He describes his own mood as “optimistic,” and believes plenty of entrepreneurs feel the same.

In other words, just because the OECD is warning of a weaker-than-expected recovery, or Ireland’s economy is in the toilet, a business person in Canada isn’t going to kibosh expansion plans, especially if he or she has orders pouring in faster than Conrad Black’s legal bills.

‘It’s not as horribly pessimistic as it was 18 to 24 months ago, but it’s hard to know just how bright things are going to be.’—Brett Wilson

“The most important indicator influencing the mood of a small business person is really the number of footsteps across their front door,” admits Mallett.

Calgary oil & gas baron Brett Wilson has invested in 25 small businesses as a Dragon in the Den, so he has an interest in knowing what the mood out there is like as well.

“Most entrepreneurs I talk to these days are enthusiastically curious,” he says. “Enthusiastic because they’re optimistic about their prospects — they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing if they weren’t hopeful. And curious because the future just isn’t clear at this point. It’s not as horribly pessimistic as it was 18 to 24 months ago, but it’s hard to know just how bright things are going to be.”

Of course, it’s an impossible task to get an accurate read on something as amorphous as “mood,” especially on a sector as broad and varied as small business. But it’s worth trying, because all of us are affected by our moods, and that affects our behaviour.

In the case of small business people, how they feel about the future will determine what they may — or may not — contribute to our economy.

Myself, I’m feeling pretty delighted these days — to be writing a new column and connecting in another, new way to a dynamic group of people. I intend to keep a sharp eye on anything and everything I think may be of interest to people who are already running a small business, and those who dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Watch this space!

via cbc.ca

 

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About Tariq Sultan
Dear Readers, I am a dedicated Toronto, Ontario based real estate professional who has been successfully meeting and exceeding the needs of his clients for past several years. I am actively involved in the insurance, financing, and mortgage industry. Real estate is not only my career – it is my passion. I strive to continuously provide my clients with exceptional service to ensure they are fully satisfied when it comes to their real estate needs. For any real estate related inquires contact me today, I will be happy to assist you. Best wishes, Tariq Sultan

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