Small Business Owners are a Happy Group


THUNDER BAY – Small business owners in Canada are a happy group. According to the TD Small Business Happiness Index, 62% of Canadian small business owners would describe themselves as ‘very happy’ with only 1% saying they are ‘very unhappy’. This research – which examined the attitudes and behaviours of North American small business owners in a dozen urban centres – further revealed that nearly 9 in 10 Canadian small business owners are happier owning and running their own business as compared to working for someone else. Interestingly, the responses by Canadians are very consistent with their American counterparts, with slightly more U.S. small business owners describing themselves as very happy (69%).

“What the TD Small Business Happiness Index demonstrates is that small business owners enjoy a sense of control and freedom that they don’t generally realize when working for someone else,” says Alec Morley, Senior Vice President, Small Business Banking, TD Canada Trust. “Despite the recent economic downturn and the ongoing challenges of managing and growing a business, the personal satisfaction small business owners report illustrates one of the key advantages of owning your own company.”

Why are small business owners so happy?

There are several reasons for small business owners’ high satisfaction levels. Canadian small business owners say that owning a small business gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment (97%) plus a deep personal connection to their employees (91%) and their customers (84%). In addition, 86% say that owning a small business gives them the opportunity to volunteer their time or make donations to charities, sports teams and events.

The benefits of small business ownership

According to the TD Small Business Happiness Index, small business owners say the top three benefits of small business ownership are 1. being their own boss 2. setting their own schedule and 3. being in control or being able to make their own decisions.

“Small business owners tell us that owning a business has many advantages, despite the day-to-day challenges that come with running a company like red tape, property taxes and attracting and retaining talent,” says Morley. “If you have always dreamed of owning your own company and are interested in getting started, or need assistance in growing your small business, there are small business banking experts at TD Canada Trust branches across Canada who can help.”

Happiest cities for small business owners

The TD Small Business Happiness Index analyzed small business owners’ happiness levels in 12 North American cities. This was calculated by looking at which cities had the most small business owners who ranked in the top quartile on the happiness index (they described themselves as a ‘very happy person’). The findings revealed that small business owners are happy no matter where they live. The top five happiest cities for small business owners in Canada are:

    1. Calgary (30%)
    2. Montreal (29%)
    3. Ottawa (27%)
    4. Toronto (26%)
    5. Vancouver (23%)

Interestingly, the index showed that there are more ‘very happy’ small business owners in several U.S. cities than Canadian ones, with Los Angeles (36%) and Boston (31%) ranking ahead of Calgary, which tied with Chicago (30%) and Miami (30%).

What is the impact of happiness?

The small business owners across Canada who define themselves as very happy are more likely to say they will still be running their business in five years time compared with their less happy counterparts. Those respondents who ranked in the bottom quartile in terms of their happiness levels have greater difficulty separating their business life from their personal life, say they are constantly worrying about the business, and consistently work more hours than they expected.

Small business owners work long hours

Owning a small business may offer more freedom to make decisions, but it can also mean working long hours. The majority of Canadian small business owners work 50 or more hours each week, with 19% working 50-59 hours and 38% saying they work 60 hours or more. Interestingly, Canadian and American small business owners work the same number of hours each week.

About the TD Small Business Happiness Index:  The TD Small Business Happiness Index examined the attitudes and behaviours of small business owners in a dozen North American urban centres. Small businesses were defined as those companies having 5 to 50 employees. The research was conducted by Environics Research, which surveyed a total of 1,213 small business owners acrossNorth America between May 13 and June 15, 2010, including 711 small business owners in Canada.

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