RBC survey shows most Canadian small business owners optimistic about economy



    Yet many taking steps to succeed in today's economic environment

    TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - With talk of an economic slowdown continuing,
one might assume that Canadian small business owners are worried about their
future. But a recent RBC/Ipsos Reid survey shows that over half of those
surveyed (57 per cent) are optimistic about the Canadian economy (36 per cent
are positive and 21 per cent are neutral). In fact, almost half (48 per cent)
think that the next six months would be a good time to grow or expand their
business.
    Despite these positive sentiments, the survey results also showed that
business owners are taking steps to ensure their success. In particular, the
majority of business owners (52 per cent) are cutting back on unnecessary
expenses; working to provide extra value to customers (47 per cent); finding
ways to reduce energy/fuel consumption (31 per cent); and increasing marketing
efforts (27 per cent).
    Only three per cent of those surveyed who have employees would consider
laying off staff; four per cent would reduce work hours; and seven per cent
would consider lowering prices for products or services.
    "I think it's really important to note that small business owners across
the country seem to have a good handle on the importance of managing through
uncertain times," said Rina Pillitteri, national director, Small Business,
RBC Royal Bank. "Building a successful small business is always a challenge.
Now, more than ever, having a solid business plan is important and should
include ways to deal with economic and market volatility so that business
owners can succeed and grow no matter what obstacles may be in their way."
    Of those business owners surveyed, 76 per cent believe they could handle
doubling their sales in the next year. When asked what they want to focus on
this year, 51 per cent of small business owners say they are focusing on
keeping their existing customers as well as gaining new ones, and 16 per cent
say they are ensuring their business is running as efficiently as possible.
    "Ups and downs are part of the normal course of business for the majority
of business owners," added Pillitteri. "What the survey results have shown us
is that many small business owners are going out of their way to improve the
value of the service and products they are already providing to their customer
base, while working to attract new ones to ensure this growth and continued
success."
    It's not surprising that from a regional perspective, small business
owners from the Prairies (15 per cent) and British Columbia (13 per cent) are
more likely to describe the Canadian economy as 'growing' compared to other
provinces. Small business owners from Ontario (36 per cent), Quebec (26 per
cent) and Atlantic Canada (29 per cent) are more likely to describe the
Canadian economy as 'going through a rough patch' compared to those on the
Prairies (17 per cent).

    These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid/RBC Royal Bank poll conducted
between August 5 and August 11, 2008. For the survey, invitations were sent to
a representative sample of Canadian small business owners with 10 or fewer
employees, and reporting less than $1 million in annual revenue, resulting in
1,145 completed online interviews. An unweighted probability sample of this
size, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error
of +/-three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Margin of error for
subgroups will be larger.

    RBC Royal Bank delivers a wide range of financial services and practical
advice to small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. RBC is Canada's
leading financial institution for small business, serving one in four small
businesses. For practical advice and information about starting, owning and
managing a small business, visit: www.rbcroyalbank.com/business/resources.

    For full tabular results, please see the Ipsos Reid website at
www.ipsos.ca





For further information:

For further information: Jackie Braden, Media Relations, (416) 974-2124;
Janet Gibson Eichner, Corporate Communications, (416) 974-7622


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