By: Chandrashekar LSP
With the pandemic waning, new challenges are on the horizon – including inflation, supply chain issues, geo-political conflict, and potential economic downturns to name a few. Despite all this uncertainty, the recent Zoho Canada SMB Outlook Report points to overall optimism amongst business leaders across the country.
According to the survey’s findings, Canadian small and medium-sized enterprise leaders are optimistic about their business prospects, with 62.1% of respondents expecting to grow between 1% and 20+% during the upcoming months.The bi-annual report surveyed 1,016 business leaders (C-level to manager) in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in March about business performance, staffing, the economy, and tech usage.
The fact that SME leaders are successfully navigating today’s economic, staffing, cybersecurity, and customer privacy challenges while still remaining highly optimistic about business growth and profitability, suggests that Canada could fare well during a possible upcoming recession.
Key Report Findings
The key report findings paints an overall picture of optimism amongst the Canadian SME community, with Ontario respondents feeling particularly good and 63.8% expecting
to grow between 1-20+%.
In terms of optimism about business growth across the country, 53% of surveyed businesses in Alberta expect to grow between 1-20+%, in British Columbia 65% expect to grow between this same amount, and 59.7% of Quebec SMBs expect similar growth.
SME Staffing Holding Steady
Additionally, businesses across the country are holding steady with staffing based on 70.1% indicating no change in their hiring plans, 25.8% hiring, and only 4.1% anticipating layoffs. And, just over 10% of respondents said that inflation has impacted hiring, with the recent increase in business costs being nearly twice the challenge as that of interest rates.
Why the SME Optimism?
So, why are Canadian SMEs generally optimistic about their business outlook despite potential upcoming challenges? Zoho customer Maria-Cecilia Arango, administrative assistant at Richporter Lighting, says, “Even if the economic context presents challenges for companies today, as technology continues to evolve, it becomes more accessible. I am optimistic about the growing number of users who will be empowered to shape a brighter future this year and beyond.”
With this viewpoint in mind, I believe that Canadian SMEs continue to be agile and are optimizing their technology usage to address potential challenges, making them more resilient – and optimistic – about their business outlooks and the future. Indeed, across the surveyed respondents, technology use was prioritized on areas such as customer experience and improving decision-making processes – areas which can help SMEs weather economic storms.
Customer experience was the top priority for tech usage across all provinces, with 40.3% in Alberta focusing on customer experience via their tech, 36.8% in BC, 45% in Ontario and 34.7% in Quebec.
Additionally, staff optimization was reported to be the next most important tech priority with 21.1% of respondents indicating that tech facilitates remote work and 20.5% investing in talent and digital skills.
The data findings in the Zoho Canada SMB Outlook Report are encouraging based on business leaders successfully navigating today’s economic, staffing, cybersecurity, and customer privacy challenges, while also remaining highly optimistic about business growth and profitability. This positive outlook arguably highlights the ingenuity and ability of these leaders and their teams to remain agile during challenging times, and ideally bodes well for the country.
To access the report dashboard, click here.
Chandrashekar (LSP), Zoho Canada’s managing director, is committed to creating and spreading awareness of Zoho. He cut his teeth in the software domain with the WebNMS division of Zoho and has journeyed with the company at its crucial pivot points. LSP is based out of Cornwall and holds a masters degree in information systems and applications.