A large majority of Canadian small business owners express confidence in their business prospects and the state of their economy, new research reveals.

BMO Financial Group, Montreal, publishedthis finding in a summary of results from a survey, the BMO Small Business Confidence Report, of 500 Canadian small business owners. Conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, Toronto, the survey produces an index score that measures the level of confidence small business owners have in the Canadian economy based on key indicators, including how they think their business is performing, if they believe the next year will be a better/worse year for business and if they expect their business will grow/shrink next year.

As a single-figure snapshot of small business confidence, this year’s index score registers at 63 out of 100. This annual “pulse check” also finds that small business owners are over four times more likely to say that 2013 will be a better year than 2012.

Nearly three-quarters of Canadian entrepreneurs responding to the survey (72%) say they are confident in their business prospects and the state of the economy, with the highest level (88%) registered by businesses in the prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of the small business owners polled describe their business performance in 2012 (year to date) to be ‘excellent’ to ‘good’, while almost one-third (28%) indicate that their business has performed ‘fair’ to ‘very poor’ this year.

The small business owners also indicate by a strong margin that they expect that 2013 will be a better year for their business, and that their business will grow next year.

More than half (56%) of entrepreneurs say that they believe 2012 will be a better year for their business (versus 12% ‘worse’). And 50% predict their businesses will grow in 2013; only 6% expect their business to ‘shrink’.

Regionally, businesses in Alberta have the most positive outlook for 2013, with 70% saying 2013 will be a better year and 55% believing their business will experience growth in the year ahead.

 

    Province/Region  
  NATIONAL   BC   AB   Prairies   ON   QC   ATL  
Confident 72 % 71 % 75 % 88 % 67 % 73 % 77 %
Worried 16 % 22 % 10 % 7 % 18 % 18 % 13 %
Confidence Index Score 63   61   66   71   63   61   65  
 
    Province/Region  
2012 Performance National   BC   AB   Prairies   ON   QC   ATL  
Total Positive (Excellent, Very Good, Good) 71 % 71 % 73 % 80 % 68 % 67 % 65 %
Total Negative (Fair, Poor, Very Poor) 28 % 29 % 28 % 15 % 32 % 30 % 33 %

Outlook for 2013

    Province/Region  
  National   BC   AB   Prairies   ON   QC   ATL  
2013 Economy Better 56 % 53 % 70 % 56 % 57 % 49 % 55 %
Worse 12 % 19 % 10 % 2 % 16 % 9 % 8 %
Business prospects Grow 50 % 44 % 55 % 49 % 51 % 48 % 53 %
Shrink 6 % 10 % 5 % <1 % 10 % 3 % 3 %