There's no beating around the Canadian bush this summer: our economy is unsettled. Business confidence remains low across the country and there's no clear sign of a rebound in the immediate future. Things might be looking tough, but it's time to take a deep breath.
When the broader signs in the economy seem to falter, it's important that we remember where the true strength of our economy begins -- in small business.
Canadians know that small businesses are at the heart of our communities, and are dedicated to keeping local economies strong. Small and medium-sized firms account for 45 per cent of the economic activity in Canada and 70 per cent of all private sector jobs. In fact, fully four out of every 10 jobs in Canada are found in businesses with fewer than 20 employees. The abstract "economy" that we conjure in our imagination is actually made up of thousands upon thousands of small business owners that we know and interact with every day.
Small business owners work to create or protect jobs in good times and bad. They pay and collect a huge proportion of the taxes used to provide the various government services we all enjoy. They also are the first group local organizations call on for support for charitable events or community support.
In return, Canadians love small business. When polled on the groups in society that Canadians respect the most, farmers and small business owners top the list.
But this isn't just an abstract love or respect. Many of us are big fans of a favourite independent restaurant or cafe, a barber or stylist, a gift shop or spa, a mechanic or even an accountant (I'm married to one).
We know that Canadians generally want to support local independent businesses in their community, but without the benefit of big advertising budgets, those businesses are often hard to find. That's why we began shopsmallbiz.ca in 2013. At the core of this program is Canada's first and only directory exclusive to independently-owned small and medium businesses. If you want to support small businesses where you live and work, now you have a place to go to find them.
There is no denying that some Canadians and Canadian businesses are negatively affected by the current state of affairs in the economy, particularly in the energy sector. Global forces are at work, yet the constructive response is to put local forces to work by supporting Canadian small business. It's not just good for the economy, but it also builds stronger communities when we support our neighbours.
By their very nature, most small business owners are optimists. They are also fighters and are doing everything they can to continue to support their staff and their communities.
Want to help? My advice to you: keep calm and show your #SmallBizLove.
In recognition of all the things your favourite small businesses do, we're asking you to show your #SmallBizLove through our new social media contest, running from June 10 to 22. Twitter and Instagram users can nominate their favourite small business using the hashtag in tweets and photos, sharing what makes their chosen small business so terrific.
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