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Canadian Entrepreneurs Working Smarter, Not Harder, According to New Survey

Sage State of the Startup survey reveals despite no prior startup experience, Canadian entrepreneurs experience profitability and a healthy work-life balance

RICHMOND, B.C. (May 7, 2015) – Canadian entrepreneurs are most likely to be Generation X women who report they have a great work-life balance, according to the 2015 Sage State of the Startup Survey, part of the Sage SMB Slant research series. The greatest challenge Canadian startups cite facing this year is managing cash flow. The survey by Sage North America, a leading provider of business management software and services to small and medium-sized businesses, provides deep insight into the motivation, business practices, and performance of over 200 startups in Canada.

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"The Canadian economy survives on small businesses when they thrive, so do we," said Nancy Harris, senior vice president and general manager, Sage Canada. "To help entrepreneurs grow and succeed, Sage wanted to dive deeply into how small business startups work, what makes the very best succeed, and best practices that will guide other new businesses on their journeys."

Women and Generation X are leading the way on the entrepreneurial journey in Canada.

The survey unveiled that the typical startup in Canada was founded by women (62 per cent) within the past 12 months, and launched by a single founder who is relatively inexperienced. In fact, most respondents have no prior startup experience. Gen X-ers overwhelmingly dominate the entrepreneurial field, founding more than half of all new business in Canada (57 per cent).

"Women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing segments in the Canadian economy," continued Harris. "It should be no surprise, then, that the 2015 federal budget rewarded them with the tools they need to continue to succeed, while also influencing and inspiring other women to follow suit."

Entrepreneurs are working smarter, not harder.

Nearly half admit they have a great balance between work and life (46 per cent), and 27 per cent say they take somewhat or significantly more vacation time than they did as an employee. Women feel much better about their work-life balance than men (51 per cent versus 37 per cent).

Surprisingly, more than half of entrepreneurs did not create a formal business plan (52 per cent), and 68 per cent reported funding their startup with no outside investors. Impressively, nearly three-quarters of startups (73 per cent) are turning a profit. The greatest challenges entrepreneurs say they face include managing cash flow (45 per cent), getting accurate financials (41 per cent), and building a product or service (39 per cent).

Nurturers comprising of investors, accountants and incubators doubt the financial statements they receive from entrepreneurs.

Sage also gained insight from startup nurturers in the U.S. executives who work with firms who routinely counsel, invest in, nurture, and engage with startups, including venture capitalists, accountants, and incubators. Nurturers reported that two of five startups eventually fail. Further, they revealed the top three mistakes founders make, including taking on too much debt, not conducting adequate market research, and an inability to control costs. In fact, 36 per cent do not trust the financials they receive from entrepreneurs. To remedy this, nurturers recommend investing in an outside accountant or bookkeeper to handle accounting.

Other key findings include:
  • The pursuit of entrepreneurship is not passed down from other generations. Seventy-five per cent say their parents were not entrepreneurs.
  • Primary motivating factors for starting a business include: wanting to be your own boss (59 per cent); wanting to turn passion into a business (46 per cent); and having a burning desire to work for yourself (38 per cent).
  • Forty-one per cent of entrepreneurs admit that it was difficult to start their business, whereas 35 per cent say it was somewhat or extremely easy to start.
  • Forty-six per cent of respondents are at least somewhat confident with their business financials.
  • Generations differed when it came to their engagement with marketing functions, especially social marketing. Boomers were 1.5 times as likely to ignore consumer social media marketing tactics than Millennials.

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About the Sage 2015 State of the Startup Survey

Sage North America, a leading provider of business management software and services to small and medium-sized businesses, today announced the findings of its 2015 State of the Startup Survey, part of the Sage SMB Slant research series. Conducted during March 2015, the survey provides deep insight into the motivation, business practices and performance of 524 new business startups in North America, 213 in Canada. ReRez Research also canvassed 102 senior executives in firms who routinely counsel, invest in, and generally nurture startups, such as accountants, investors and attorneys. These nurturers are all based in the U.S.

About The Sage Group, plc

We provide small and medium sized organisations, and mid-market companies with a range of easy-to-use, secure and efficient business management software and services—from accounting, HR and payroll, to payments, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management. Our customers receive continuous advice and support through our global network of local experts to help them solve their business problems, giving them the confidence to achieve their business ambitions. Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and entered the FTSE 100 in 1999. Sage has millions of customers and circa 13,000 employees in 23 countries covering the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia, Asia and Brazil.

For more information about Sage in North America, please visit the company website at Follow Sage North America on Facebook,, and Twitter,

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Betty Tian
Sage North America
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