September 17, 2015
At a Canadian media panel discussion at the Dreamforce user conference this week in San Francisco, Salesforce released survey results that explore the attitudes and experiences of more than 500 Canadian small businesses (SMBs) regarding expansion of their businesses into the U.S. and other global markets.
According to the survey, 81% of Canadian SMB owners have considered expanding their company beyond the Canadian border, and almost half (49%) said they are likely to expand in the future. Upwards of 51% of those who are very/somewhat likely to do so, plan to do so in the next 11 months.
Alternately, 70% plan to do so sometime within the next two years, with the most desirable market being the U.S./Mexico.
The survey shows that 40% of small businesses who plan to expand across borders do not believe they require any funding, and many intend to use existing Canadian revenue (30%), personal savings (39%), or bank loans (36%) to fund growth.
Showing remarkable confidence, Saleforce said, only 15% of these SMBs are concerned about finding new customers, 10% are concerned about customer retention and 6% are concerned about running their business remotely.
When it comes to how SMB owners feel about future growth, the general attitude is optimism, indicating that they’re not only eyeing international expansion, but exhibiting pride about their global prospects.
The company also wondered if all this optimism is misplaced.
According to the survey, almost a third (30%) of businesses with expansion plans agree that information on expanding beyond Canadian borders is conflicting, and one in five (19%) respondents doubt they have the proper tools and resources to expand.
The survey showed that 84% per cent of SMB owners that plan to expand do not use a customer relationship management solution, and more than a third (37%) do not use a digital marketing platform, custom mobile application, a data analytics tool, a sales tracking/lead generation tool or accounting software.
While the survey shows that Canadian small business owners are eager about international expansion, it’s clear that many are lacking the knowledge and necessary technology to achieve this growth, Salesforce said.
The company added that to be “successful in today’s ever-expanding and changing global economy, it’s important that Canadian small business owners develop a detailed plan and use the right business tools. Being hungry and aggressive can take entrepreneurs a long way, but without relevant and timely insight into their business and target markets, small business owners with an eye towards expansion could be setting themselves up for disappointment.
“In the year ahead, smart entrepreneurs will be wise to utilize all the technology and expertise available to them before looking to expand. While it’s true that international markets provide endless opportunities for Canadian small businesses, only those armed with the proper knowledge and tools will grow and thrive.
“The Canadian economy has been built on the backs of driven, savvy and determined entrepreneurs. Industry Canada indicates that small and medium-sized enterprises (fewer than 500 employees) make up 99% of business in Canada and employ 64%t of workers in the private sector.
“As borders shrink and global markets open, all eyes are on the success of these Canadian entrepreneurs – but international success can be tricky. Traditionally faced with legal, financial and governmental challenges, the road can be long and bumpy.”
Findings are based on an online survey that took place between Aug. 29 and Sept. 7 conducted among 523 randomly selected Canadian small business owners who are members of the Angus Reid Forum panel or partnering networks.
Further coverage from Dreamforce will appear on the Connections+ Web site shortly and in the Nov.-Dec. issue.