Despite facing barriers to entry, Generation Z is embracing entrepreneurship in Canada with an optimistic outlook, according to Gen Z: A New Age in Canadian Entrepreneurship, a new report from technology company Square. The report is based on the findings of a survey conducted with 400 Canadians aged 18–27 who own a business or are in the process of starting one, conducted in collaboration with Leger.
While more than one in two (56%) respondents believe they have better economic opportunities than the previous generation, a far larger percentage of men (60%) than women (49%) shared this optimistic outlook.
When it comes to entrepreneurial role models there is a significant gender divide, with 34% of male respondents indicating they looked up to Elon Musk the most. Women had far less interest in Musk (14%), favouring entertainers-turned-moguls Selena Gomez (25%), Ryan Reynolds (18%) and Rihanna (18%).
The definition of success also varied largely between Gen Z men and women, with 51% of women indicating that growing a customer base was the number-one success factor, compared to only 38% of men. Women were also far more concerned with customer satisfaction (39%) than men (29%).
However, in many areas there was general consensus across genders. For example, more than three in four respondents (77%) believe Gen Z is more open to alternative paths to success instead of a corporate 9–5 job than previous generations. Jasmine Linton, who owns DIBS Scratch Bakery, a bakery in Richmond Hill, Ontario, agrees.
“We're not only more open to alternative paths, but in many cases, I think we actually prefer it,” said Linton. “Being able to do my own thing on my own time, rather than being confined to 9–5, is part of what led me to start my own business.”
Linton is, however, in the minority: 25% of Gen Z entrepreneurs consider their business a full-time endeavour while 53% see their businesses as side hustles.
Technology's Starring Role
Technology is a big factor in growing these businesses from part- to full-time, with 79% of respondents saying they consider technology tools, such as payment processing, essential to starting a business. More than a third (36%) attribute Gen Z's entrepreneurial nature to greater access to technology and related tools. But they still lack comfort with some of the financial tasks required to run a business: 86% of respondents have at least one finance-related task they feel ill-equipped to handle, with more than one-fifth (22%) struggling with knowing how to secure funding. Some (21%) also admit to difficulties with budgeting and cash flow management, and another 19% find it difficult to manage invoices.
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