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Younger Canadians are starting businesses due to rising living costs, finds survey

More than ever, Canadian customers are craving local goods and services over larger businesses. So-called 'micro-entrepreneurs' are filling the void, a new survey has found
The 'micro-entrepreneur' economy is emerging in Canada, especially among the younger generation.

With living costs and inflation on the rise in Canada, younger millennials and Gen Zs are looking to new sources of income as 'micro-entrepreneurs,' a new survey has found.

The RBC Small Business poll found "74 per cent of Canadian small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are motivated to start a small business or side-hustle" because of rising costs of living. Among Gen Z respondents, this percentage jumps to 84 per cent.

A strong majority of millennial entrepreneurs surveyed in the study said their main objective for starting a business was to create a source of income to support themselves. 

"This year's survey revealed that the desire for entrepreneurship in Canada remains strong, especially among younger generations, and not surprisingly, it's being driven by the challenging current economic conditions," says Don Ludlow, vice-president of Small Business, Partnerships & Strategy at RBC Royal Bank.

"In particular, many Canadians are motivated to start micro-businesses – very small-scale businesses or side hustles – to nimbly meet emerging consumer needs in a rapidly evolving marketplace, and to take control of their financial future in these uncertain times."

Factors of a growing micro-entrepreneurship economy 

Technology is playing a big role in the emergence of a micro-entrepreneurship economy across the country, found the poll.

Nearly half of respondents said emerging technologies have allowed them to diversify their market audience and find creative ways of doing business.

Another 47 per cent said that the ability to conduct their business remotely has lowered the costs traditionally associated with running a business.

Finally, 42 per cent of surveyed entrepreneurs said digital solutions have reduced the need for administrators.  

More importantly, Canadians are interested in authentic, local goods and services. The poll found 71 per cent of those surveyed said they were more likely to support businesses with an active presence in their local community.

The poll notes that a strong majority agree small businesses are able to provide products and services tailored to local needs. 

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they believe small businesses have the ability to innovate at a more rapid rate than larger organizations.