Small business owners in Canada are doing their thang and not looking back.
Over 42 percent of small business owners say they have no regrets about the actions they took (or did not take) when they first started their company, according to a Scotiabank Small Business Poll.
Some small business owners did have some regrets though: 19 percent of respondents said they wish they could have better estimated the number of hours they would need to put into their business and to not have tried to do it all at once (19 percent).
“Small business owners bring their unique mix of passion, innovation and vigor to the often challenging reality of running a successful small business,” said Scotiabank’s John Roberts. “Sometimes this same passion can create overly optimistic assumptions, particularly if they are trying to do everything themselves.”
Between September 25 and 30, 2013 TNS Canada conducted online interviews among 501 owners/partners of small businesses with under $5 million annual revenue.
Some of the other interesting figures revealed from the study was that over half of all respondents (53 percent) said the best part about owning a small business was that they could be their own boss. Moreover, the top reasons for starting a small business are jumping on an opportunity (24 percent), pursuing a lifelong dream to be their own boss (16 percent) and making a career/life change (15 percent).
Finding customers was the biggest obstacle that small business owners faced when they first started their company (32 percent), followed by balancing a family and business (19 percent), access to credit (16 percent), and managing cash flow (14 percent). Meanwhile, when it came to seeking advice for their start-up, over one-third of small business owners preferred to talk to their family or friends and 28 percent turned to their accountant. Still, 26 percent did not seek any advice.
Interestingly, the average age of owners who started their companies was 40, but young people still made a solid proportion of first-time business owners with 22 percent under the age of 30.
The folks at Scotiabank were so nice as to included these five steps to starting a business:
1. Develop a sound business plan. Successful entrepreneurs do a lot of background research before they sell their products and services. A business plan pulls it all together.
2. Invest in your own education. Self-education could be as specific as learning how the latest piece of software can help your business. Or it could be mastering the different skills you’ll need to run your business, such as marketing, finance, and customer service. The more you can learn about the overall operations of your business, the better your decisions may be – particularly if you run a smaller company that requires you to wear more than one hat.
3. Get your finances in order. Save as much money as you can before you start your business: You may need to draw on your savings in the early stages. You should also establish and maintain a good credit history, which will help you when you need to borrow money for your business.
4. Keep your overhead low. There are many stories of entrepreneurs starting out in their garages until they have built up their business. Starting small and keeping your costs low lets you make mistakes on a much smaller scale and gives you the time to learn from them. Email and the Internet make it easy to start your business from your home.
5. Learn from the experts. Take advantage of the expertise of an accountant and your business banker. An accountant can help you with the books, find ways to keep your costs low, and do your tax return. Your business banker can advise you on cash flow, the use of credit, investments, and borrowing, among other things. He or she can also share best business practices.