Why small businesses are a big deal

When it comes to small businesses, “small” is a misnomer.

Did you know?

  • Small businesses make up 98.2 percent of employers in Canada.1
  • More than 7.7 million employees, or 69.7 percent of the total private labour force, work for small businesses in Canada.1
  • Small businesses have created 77.7 percent of all Canadian private-sector jobs over the last decade.1
  • Small businesses create more than 100,000 new jobs each year in Canada.1

Small businesses create more jobs than any other type of businesses and are the backbone of the Canadian economy. What makes things even more exciting is that due to the advent of new technologies like cloud computing, LTE networks and mobile applications, small businesses will have the opportunity to play an even greater role in driving innovation and job creation in the years to come.

In a world with limited resources, the fastest way to boost economic growth is to innovate. Not only are small businesses creating jobs, but they are also a significant source of innovation, creating 16 times more patents per employee than large high-patenting firms.2 What is even more impressive, is that to this point they have been achieving these results at a technological disadvantage.

Historically, the availability of resources to spend on research and development (R&D) has been tied to the size of businesses. In 2009, large businesses (500 or more employees) accounted for less than one per cent of all businesses in Canada, yet accounted for more than 50 per cent of R&D expenditures. Small businesses in contrast, accounted for more than 98 per cent of businesses but only 31 per cent of R&D expenditures.1

Small businesses have been competing with one hand tied behind their backs – large businesses had the resources necessary to invest in innovation-enabling technology that was out of reach to small businesses. Nearly 50 per cent of large enterprises support innovation with investments in advanced technology (which includes technologies like communication and information management), compared to only 35 per cent of small businesses.3

We are in a transformational time however, and rapid advancements in technology are levelling the playing field. Cloud computing, for example, is allowing small businesses to avoid huge upfront investments in IT infrastructure and replace them with operating costs that can be scaled as the business grows. Wireless networks and mobile applications are helping small businesses become more efficient and productive, while reducing travel and real estate costs. Advanced technology is no longer a luxury that only large businesses can afford; small businesses now have access to cutting-edge technology that will help them compete against much larger rivals – both domestically and globally.

The opportunity ahead for Canadian small businesses is incredible. This is why TELUS is so passionate about supporting small business owners with innovative solutions that help their businesses thrive, and why we are proud to present the fourth annual installment of “The Challenge” in partnership with The Globe & Mail. This annual contest helps small business owners overcome their biggest business challenge with a $100,000 award from TELUS.

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By listening to the challenges faced by small business owners, we are able to gain a better understanding of what services and solutions will strengthen their businesses and help them be more competitive as they drive Canada’s economy forward.

Contest entries will be accepted until May 26, 2014. For full details about how to enter and to read the contest rules and regulations, please visit Globeandmail.com/thechallenge.

1 Statistics Canada

2 U.S. Small Business Administration

3 Statistics Canada