British Columbia's small business sector continues to play a key role in job creation and economic growth in the province. It is the province's primary provider of private sector jobs, reflecting an important and ongoing trend toward economic diversification within the provincial economy.
What is "small business"? In B.C. small business is defined as a business that employs fewer than 50 individuals, or one operated by a person who is self-employed without paid help.
According to the 2011 Small Business Profile, prepared by the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, there are approximately 391,700 small businesses operating in B.C., accounting for 98% of all businesses in the province! Micro-business, those with fewer than 5 employees, comprised about 82% of small business. In 2010, approximately 1,038,300 people were employed by small business in B.C., representing 57% of all private sector employees.
Small business contributes to the provincial economy in many ways. It creates and maintains employment, drives innovation, meets payrolls that support individuals and families and stimulates new economic activity. The key measure of economic production of a sector is its gross domestic product. GDP represents the value that a sector adds to the materials and services it uses, which is an important aspect of the sector's contribution to the economy.
The 2011 Small Business Profile reports that small business in B.C. accounted for 30% of the province's GDP, well above the national average of 27%. The relatively high contribution to GDP in B.C. is due, in part, to the fact that the province has traditionally been more service sector-oriented than most regions of Canada. The profile goes on to say that small business was the source of 33% of all wages paid to workers, the highest share of any province.
Small business is also leading the way in innovation and the high technology sector. 96% of businesses in high technology were small business. Since 2007, growth has been strong in high-tech service industries, particularly computer and related services.
Self-employed individuals account for 56% of small businesses. On average, the self-employed tend to be older, are more often men and more likely to work longer hours than paid employees. Women represent over 36% of entrepreneurs in B.C., the second highest proportion in the country.
The provinces long-term growth in entrepreneurship, a key component of small business, has profoundly impacted its economic landscape.
Despite recent economic uncertainty across the country and around the globe, British Columbia's small business owners are consistently among the most optimistic in the nation in their expectations for the future according to a recent survey.
Locally, our Chamber members are a close reflection of the makeup and results of the province as a whole. Approximately 90% of our members are small business, and 60% of our members employ 5 or less individuals. Small business drives the economy in Abbotsford and our membership reflects the full range of diverse business activity in the area. We are also fortunate to have strong membership from the agricultural sector, which accounts for such a significant part of our local economy.
Small business is vital to our future success as a community and a province.
The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a partner with local business to create access and opportunities for business growth, skills development, networking and benefits. In addition, we will continue to advocate for, and speak on behalf of issues important to small business in Fraser Valley.
We are YOUR Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.