7 statistics about Canadian small businesses

small business statistics canada

Now that it’s a new year – and a new decade – we wanted to take stock of the state of small business in Canada. Here are seven recent statistics about Canadian small businesses.

  • Of the employer businesses in Canada, 1.18 million (97.9%) were small businesses, with 1-99 employees.
  • Ontario had the highest number of small businesses at 429,852, followed by Quebec (243,029) and British Columbia (184,075).
  • Nearly three out of four Canadian businesses have 1−9 employees.
  • The majority of private sector employees are employed by small businesses: 69.9%.
  • From 2011 to 2015, small businesses contributed 40.8% to Canada’s GDP.
  • In 2017, women-owned businesses (at least 51% of shares owned by women) made up 15.6% of Canada’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • Canada is one of five countries in which women entrepreneurs reported high levels of innovation.
Industry Canada. (November 2019). Key Small Business Statistics.
Statistics Canada. (April 2019). Key Small Business Statistics.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. GEM 2018 / 2019 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report.
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Six statistics about small business and entrepreneurship in Canada

How are Canadian small businesses doing? Here are six facts about the state of Canadian entrepreneurship:

  • On average, 150,000 new small businesses are created in Canada each year, but only 51% of new businesses survive five years.
  • 98% of businesses in Canada with employees have fewer than 100 of them, 55% have fewer than five employees and 75% of all businesses in Canada have fewer than 10 employees.
  • There are 950,000 self-employed women in Canada, one third of all self-employed people in the country.
  • Entrepreneurship is the number one choice for Canadians who want more out of their careers. One third of Canadians (32%) like the idea of being their own boss, and one fifth (20%) want to start their own business within five years.
  • By the end of the 2000s, approximately 19% of immigrants were self-employed, compared with 15% of those born in Canada.
  • Small businesses account for 77% of all private jobs created in Canada.
Industry Canada. (2013). Key Small Business Statistics.
Industry Canada. (2012). Key Small Business Statistics.
Statistics Canada. (2012). Business Register.
Royal Bank of Canada. (2011). RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook.
Statistics Canada. (2011).
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Ten Canadian entrepreneurship facts


This may come as no surprise, but we love Canadian entrepreneurship. We’ve compiled a list of cool facts about small business in our fair country.

Note: Check out an updated post with newer statistics here.

Did you know:

  • Every year in Canada, an average of 130,000 new small businesses are created – but only 35% survive five years.
  • Ninety-eight percent of Canadian businesses have fewer than 100 employees, 55% have fewer than four, and 75% of all businesses in the country have fewer than 10.
  • There are over 900,000 female entrepreneurs in Canada, making up a larger share of the self-employed than in any other country.
  • Over 40% of Canadians say that starting a company or being self-employed would be the most rewarding career path for them.
  • The number of immigrants active in starting or running a company is some 60% higher compared to first- or second-generation Canadians.
  • Small businesses account for between 60 and 80% of all jobs created in Canada.
  • Almost 60% of all small business owners in Canada consider themselves “lifestyle entrepreneurs” who use their business as a means of generating income to support other commitments or lifestyle choices.
  • Canadian small and medium enterprises invest in Research and Development (R&D) proportionally on a greater scale than big corporations.
  • On average, small businesses with fewer than 100 employees contribute about 51% to Canada’s GDP.
  • Studies show that entrepreneurs with education in entrepreneurship, or previous entrepreneurship experience, have an 80–90% chance of success 
with a new business.
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