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What We Heard at The State of Small Businesses in Canada Virtual Event

What We Heard at The State of Small Businesses in Canada Virtual Event

On January 29, attendees from across Canada joined us for a very special virtual event.

On January 29, attendees from across Canada joined us for a very special virtual event, The State of Small Businesses in Canada: Navigating Click-and-Mortar Opportunities. Hosted in partnership with Amazon Canada, the event corresponded with the launch of the new report from the Business Data Lab, A Portrait of Small Business in Canada: Adaption, Agility, All at Once.

We were honoured to have Minister of Small Business Rechie Valdez join us to discuss the importance of timely data for small business owners and the federal programs available to help small businesses succeed. Following Minister Valdez’s address, Marwa Abdou, report author and Senior Research Director, Business Data Lab, broke down the report’s key findings, after which attendees heard from a panel of small business owners about their experiences navigating the complex economic and digital landscape.


Top L to R: Panellist Sean Alexander, report author and moderator Marwa Abdou, and panellist Erin Bury. Bottom L to R: Panellists Abby Malchow, Jenn Harper and Rebecca Robins.

The Tools Are Out There

Small businesses don’t have to tackle today’s challenges on their own. Whether looking for information, financing or mentorship, Minister Valdez provided many examples of available tools designed to help entrepreneurs reach their goals and transition to a “click-and-mortar” reality.

Opportunity Amidst Uncertainty

With 98% of all businesses in Canada falling under the small business category and 57% of those under the micro business (1-4 employees) category, unpacking the realities of small business is vital for greater understanding and evidence-driven policy updates.

Five key highlights from the report:

  • Small business is big business in Canada.
  • Canadian businesses are smaller, more diverse and more resilient than we thought.
  • Having an omnichannel presence is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
  • While there are several bright spots in the data, more work is needed to help small businesses.
  • Targeted policy should be data-driven and underpinned by diversity, equity and inclusion.

For a full breakdown of the report’s highlights, read our summary blog.

The Power of Data

The importance of timely, relevant and regional data for small businesses cannot be understated. Up-to-date insights gives Canadian small businesses the information they need to make informed decisions and improve their performance. However, it can take some work to get good at understanding data or to recruit the people who can.

Omnichannel Presence is Essential

With consumer shopping habits changing — 83% of retail shoppers conduct online research before they visit a store, and 8% shop online from a retailer with a physical location nearby — small businesses need to have omnichannel presence and an online payment solution. Our panellists’ advice to attendees is to start with a high-quality website and to research the best tools and channels for getting in front of the desired audience, whether that’s social media, Amazon or physical retailers. Small businesses looking to expand should consider increasing their capacity through cloud technology, like Amazon Web Services.

Value-Based Shopping

Value-based shopping is becoming more and more pervasive, especially among Gen Z, and that includes shopping from small businesses. According to Abby Malchow, 60% of Amazon sales are from independent sellers that are small- and medium-sized enterprises. To help users find small businesses, Amazon provides a small business search filter and badge.

Go Where Your Customers Are

Advertising has changed but some things remain the same — and that’s going where your customers are. Do some research into the available channels, traditional or digital, to figure out where you want your product to go and where your customers are. Not everyone uses the same social media platforms, and TV ads, shopping channels and traditional partnerships with relevant stakeholders can all be beneficial strategies.

Interested in attending an event like this one? Check out all upcoming hybrid, virtual or in-person events on our website.

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