Valley First

B.C. small businesses anticipate finishing better in 2017, split on near future

B.C. small businesses anticipate finishing better in 2017, split on near future

September 28, 2017

Penticton, B.C. — As B.C. continues to boast the strongest economy in Canada, a recent survey of small business owners in the province reveals that 2017 will best 2016. Two-thirds of respondents said they expect to have better financial results in 2017 than they did last year.

The survey, commissioned by First West Credit Union, polled 500 small business owners across B.C. and also found that respondents were split on the status of B.C.’s business climate over the next few years. Thirty-five per cent of respondents felt the economic climate will worsen, while 47 per cent feel that the business climate will improve.

The sense of bridled optimism in the survey is understandable, says Marek Buryska, regional manager of business banking at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union.

“Certain factors like expenses and the economy will always be top-of-mind concerns for small business owners,” says Marek Buryska, regional manager of business banking at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union. “That said today’s market moves fast—business owners have to keep up with new business regulations, tax or investment rules and face fiercer competition than ever before. Likely, positive economic forecasts do nothing to ease their sense of security given these present-day challenges.”

For Tom Lewis, the pace of change is certainly top of mind. Lewis is founder of Summit Fiscal Management, which provides financial management training and consulting CFO services to entrepreneurs in the Okanagan.

“Industries are impacted by different things, but I think all businesses fear the fast pace of change and how e-commerce is changing the way we must do business to survive. Just look what Amazon is doing in retail and most recently in the grocery industry,” he says. “As an education and consulting company, we’ve seen how the live-training market has dramatically changed in the last 10 years, with more and more business owners thinking they can find everything they need online.”

Lewis adds that technology, as the primary driver of change, may wield a double-edged sword for the economy.

“Though local economies are more closely linked to regional factors, the overall economy could become stagnant or decline in the near future if technology eliminates as many jobs as some forecasters predict,” he says. “But Kelowna has become a tech hub attracting more tech companies into the region, resulting in more higher paying tech jobs and growing demand for students from the universities which should help stabilize the economy in the Okanagan.”

The survey also found that small business owners’ top three fears were:

  1. rising costs of operating expenses
  2. slow or declining economy
  3. weak cash flow

Buryska suspects pessimistic attitudes towards the economic future could also be attributed to a knowledge gap.

“It’s not uncommon for a business owner to be a jack-of-all-trades,” Buryska says. “All too often, they don’t have the luxury of time to look beyond present needs to consider the economic climate and understand how it could impact their business. For these business owners, seeking guidance and support from other professionals can really be advantageous. Accountants, lawyers, business banking advisors, marketers and other experts all have deeply specialized skills and should be considered an indispensable part of a business’s team.”

Many small business owners appear to embrace this truth, as the survey showed that close to half of those surveyed said that strategic and other business planning advice is one of the top three things their business banker should provide.

First West Credit Union’s Small Business Month survey was conducted using Google Surveys (August, 2017). Complete survey results are available by clicking here.

About Valley First

Valley First is a premier provider of banking, investment and insurance services for residents and businesses in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with 54 branches and 38 insurance offices throughout the province, Valley First brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. For more information on Valley First, visit www.valleyfirst.com.

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