October 11,2018

Small businesses in Canada face many
challenges on their path to growth and
even more so in becoming globally
competitive enterprises.
We have heard the statistics before: SMEs
account for 99.7% of Canada’s businesses,
but they contribute only 25% of our goods
and services exports and less than a third of
our GDP. How does that stack up against
our G7 peers? In those countries, SMEs
account for 50% of GDP and 56% of
employment. Canada’s record in scaling
up small businesses into larger, globally
competitive enterprises has to improve.
Recent research highlights the potential for
Canadian SMEs to become much more
competitive in the scaling process. One of
the tools that helps Canadian companies
grow globally is social media. It is easy to
use, inexpensive and provides access to
new customers in a variety of ways. Mobile
connections are only accelerating that
access because we can now purchase
from anywhere at any time.
A whopping 70% of small Canadian
companies use some form of social media
and most use several. Instagram’s
new study found nearly three in five SMEs
agree that social media helps to connect
with customers in their cities. Additionally,
over half also believe that it helps them find
customers in other cities, provinces and
countries. The study mentions that these
online networks are used by small
businesses to identify, attract and hire
employees that are passionate about their
products and services.
We know that more women use social
media than men, resulting in womenowned
businesses being more likely to
adopt social media. This is important
because we know that entrepreneurship
has the highest ratio of gender inequality in
the workplace, with only one in five SMEs
being majority-owned by women. The
adept use of social media by female
business owners has the potential to narrow
this gap and make a meaningful
contribution to Canadian economic
growth. Both the study by Instagram and a
second study by SME research firm Clutch
demonstrate that social media
communities create opportunities for
female entrepreneurs, help empower
women-run businesses and lower the
barriers to entry for women.
Not surprisingly, SME optimism and
enthusiasm for social media is also partially
driven by a younger demographic.
A majority of millennial SME owners agree
that their business is stronger because of
social media and that it is more important
to their company than a website, which is
why this age group plans to maintain or
increase their investment in these platforms.
Considering that millennials are now the
largest cohort of the Canadian workforce,
their social media use will increasingly play
an important part of Canadian economic
growth and competitiveness.
The impact social media has as a means to
reach customers and encourage female
entrepreneurship and millennial business
ownership will continue to grow. We are
quickly approaching a point where we will
consider it a key driver of Canada’s ability
to scale up firms, achieve inclusive growth
and compete globally in an increasingly
digital economy.
In an ever-changing society, using social
media not only ensures our companies and
economy remain competitive, but is,
ultimately, just good business.