The ‘Micro-Entrepreneur’ Economy: Millennial and Gen Z Canadians leading shift in small business aspirations

Led by the younger millennial and Gen Z generations, a ‘micro-entrepreneur’ economy is emerging across the country, as Canadians look to adapt to a changing landscape dominated by rising inflation and digitization.

A recent RBC Small Business survey reveals that 74 percent of Canadian small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are motivated to start a small business or side-hustle due to the increasing cost of living, with this number rising to 84 percent among Gen Z respondents. . In fact, a strong majority (77 per cent) of current and aspiring entrepreneurs report that their chief aim is to create a source of income to support themselves – and millennials (86 per cent) are even more likely to cite this as their main reason for starting a business.

“This year’s survey revealed that the desire for entrepreneurship in Canada remains strong, especially among younger generations, and not surprisingly, it’s being driven by the challenging current economic conditions,” says Don Ludlow, Vice-President of Small Business, Partnerships & Strategy, RBC. “In particular, many Canadians are motivated to start micro-businesses – very small-scale businesses or side hustles – to nimbly meet emerging consumer needs in a rapidly evolving marketplace, and to take control of their financial future in these uncertain times.”

Key factors supporting the emergence of the micro-entrepreneurship economy

Several factors are fueling the growing trend towards micro-entrepreneurship, including the accessibility of new technologies and digital solutions to lower barriers to entry which are allowing Canadians to quickly and easily start small businesses. Among those polled current and aspiring entrepreneurs reported that:

  • Emerging technologies allow them to reach new markets and explore new ways of doing business (47%)
  • Being able to conduct their business or ‘side-hustle’ online remotely lowers the overhead costs associated with starting and running a business (47%)
  • Digital solutions reduce the efforts for administration and back-office aspects of running a business (42%)

At the same time, a shift in customer preferences is also creating fertile ground for small and micro-businesses. Canadians are increasingly craving authentic, localized and customized goods and services, and they believe that small businesses are uniquely positioned to provide this experience.

Eighty-six percent of those surveyed agree that small businesses are able to provide products and services tailored to local needs, and another 73 percent stated that they believe small businesses have the ability to innovate at a more rapid rate than larger organizations. Moreover, 71 percent were more likely to support businesses with an active presence in their local community.

For current and aspiring business owners, the rising preference and increased willingness of Canadians to shop local has contributed to their overall desire to become an entrepreneur, with 39 percent of those surveyed stating that this shift has motivated and made it easier for them to start a business.

Helping entrepreneurs start, manage and grow their business

RBC has made it easier for Canadian entrepreneurs to start, manage and grow their business by offering valuable business solutions that help owners save time and money as they manage their day-to-day operations and adapt to the current environment. Solutions offered by RBC and its collaborative partners include:

  • Ownr – A digital platform that enables Canadian entrepreneurs to simplify and automate business formation and everyday legal and administrative work. Ownr has announced that they’ve lowered the price of their Sole Proprietorship registration fee to just $49 (including government filing fees) – making it one of the most affordable ways to register your business. As an added benefit, new entrepreneurs are eligible to receive up to $100 back when they register their business using Ownr and then open any RBC Business Account.
  • Moneris Online – An integrated bundle of e-Commerce, online payment and shipping solutions to help entrepreneurs quickly and effectively build and manage their online business.
  • – A leading cybersecurity services provider enabling small and mid-sized businesses to access cybersecurity expertise and solutions to protect their business and customers in an increasingly digitally-enabled world. RBC clients receive preferred pricing when enrolling for cybersecurity services.
  • Sherweb – A leader in cloud solutions and the latest partner to join RBC’s Go Digital™ program. Sherweb offers RBC business clients exclusive advice and solutions to support their adoption of cloud-based innovations and technologies to improve productivity, security and digital transformation.

Entrepreneurs can access these solutions and business advice online through the RBC Start A Business Hub at

About the Survey

The RBC Small Business Poll was conducted by Ipsos Canada from August 12-15, 2022. A total of 1,501 surveys were self-completed online by Canadian adults (Age 18+), represented in six different regions (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan/ Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada). Representative sample results are weighted to reflect the Canadian population. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population represented. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 92,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values ​​and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank and one of the largest in the world, based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the US and 27 other countries. Learn more at

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