How are Canadian business owners feeling about their future?

CIBC has surveyed entrepreneurs to discover their hopes and fears for the months ahead

How are Canadian business owners feeling about their future?
Steve Randall

Some have thrived, some have faltered; but for most Canadian business owners it has been a worrying start to the 2020s.

But despite the virus’ refusal to be beaten completely, there are signs of better times ahead and this is reflected in a new survey of entrepreneurs from CIBC.

Conducted last month, it found that 69% of entrepreneurs are optimistic about the long term future of their business, up 10 percentage points from last November and 19 points higher than in April 2020.

The share of business owners who say they are negatively affected by COVID-19 is also reducing, to 58% now compared to 68% in November and 81% in the early months of the pandemic.

"Canadian business owners continue to show extraordinary resilience during these difficult times," said David Leuty, Senior Vice-President, Business Banking, CIBC. "As the economy moves toward opening up, I encourage owners to seek advice about any additional relief they may need, including help with cash-flow management or additional future-proofing to meet their long-term ambitions."

Concerns endure

Although generally optimistic, one third of Canadian entrepreneurs are still concerned about reduced demand for their products and services and one fifth of shop owners fear for the viability of their business.

While these concerns have eased over the past 18 months, there is rising concern about availability of inventory or materials.

Businesses have taken several measures to keep afloat in difficult times including enhanced health and safety measures, boosted online presence, and new payment technologies.

Focusses now include growing the business, moving from surviving to thriving, and developing new revenue streams.

More than 4 in 10 business owners have accessed federal government support programs during the pandemic.