A new survey suggests Canadian small business owners have suffered a decline in optimism about their financial prospects, but are still having fun running their own company.
The American Express Small Business Services’ quarterly survey showed the overall index dropped two points to 64 per cent, indicating owners are more stressed about the state of the economy and less hopeful about their business prospects than they were in May.
Eric Nielsen, vice-president of small business services, said that while it wasn’t a huge drop, it was the first downgrade since the survey started in the depth of the recession in March 2009.
The good news, he said, is that more than half of businesses polled felt things were stable or improving, and 76 per cent are confident business will improve in the next six months.
“There is a bit more uncertainty,” he said. “Small business owners are extremely close to their consumer. If the consumer experiences a pause, the owner is usually the first to see it.”
Overall, stress levels were up six per cent. Forty-two per cent of owners planned to work past the age of 65 and 70 per cent of those who planned to retire intend to keep a role in the business.
“We’ve dubbed this a ‘so-called’ retirement,” Nielsen said. Prolonged careers were partly a reflection of financial circumstances, with owners building RRSPs and counting on selling their business or keeping a salary to fund retirement. The post-retirement work was also a reflection of the fact that most business owners value their work and don’t want to stop.
“They’re having fun doing what they’re doing,” Nielsen says. “Even through the depths of the recession, three out of four believe that the rewards and opportunities outweigh the risk.”
Many see the flexible take on retirement as part of the trade off of running their own business, the survey found.