Press release

Ownr Unveils New Data on How Canadian Entrepreneurs Have Navigated COVID-19

Sponsored by Businesswire

Ownr, Canada’s leading business and legal management platform, today announces the release of new data that reveals how COVID-19 has impacted the creation of new businesses. The data shows that entrepreneurs greatly impacted their ability to survive the pandemic by pivoting their business offerings and recognizing opportunities to fill gaps in their industry.

Key survey highlights include:

  • 22 per cent of business owners adapted their business strategy during COVID-19 in response to a negative financial impact experienced by their business.
  • Over one quarter (26 per cent) of new entrepreneurs in 2020 reported that the pandemic created a gap in the market that their new business addressed.
  • 20 per cent of new entrepreneurs in 2020 saw their job being at risk as a result of COVID-19 and started their own business in order to be proactive.
  • 14 per cent of new entrepreneurs in 2020 launched their business as a result of being laid off from their job.

Entrepreneurs see e-commerce as the way forward

Despite being disproportionately impacted by the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, retail remained the top growing industry for new business owners in Canada.

Retail ranked as the number one industry that saw new businesses launched in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta with 62 per cent of business owners anticipating that e-commerce will play a larger role in their business throughout 2021.

“There’s no doubt that the impacts of COVID-19 have been far reaching, but there is a lot to be said about the resilience and courage of entrepreneurs,” said Shadi McIsaac, Co-Founder and Head of Ownr. “We expected fewer entrepreneurs to take the leap into retail during COVID-19, but were encouraged to see an 88 per cent growth in new direct-to-consumer businesses launched on Ownr’s platform in the past year compared with 2019. This really highlights the tenacity of independent business owners, even during these challenging times.”

The entrepreneurial spirit of future business owners has not been dampened by COVID-19

Despite the prominent narrative around COVID-19 focusing on the challenges of small businesses, budding entrepreneurs stand determined in the background, with 95 per cent of non-business owners surveyed reporting that they still plan to launch their own enterprise in the future.

“The fact that so many entrepreneurial Canadians are still looking to start their business is an optimistic signal that small businesses could remain the backbone of the economy that shapes and drives Canada in a post-COVID world,” said Shane Murphy, Chief Operating Officer of Ownr.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • 43 per cent of business owners experienced fewer customers and lower sales than expected during COVID-19.
  • One quarter (26 per cent) of business owners said difficulties in accessing funding were a significant cause of financial impact.
  • Nearly one half (46 per cent) of aspiring entrepreneurs said the biggest barrier to launching their business was not knowing how to start, pointing to a need for greater resources and education for small business owners.
  • Only 20 per cent of entrepreneurs started their business before the age of 30, with the majority (46 per cent) launching between the ages of 30-44, proving it’s never too late to bring a new product or service to the market.
  • Sadly, 14 per cent of entrepreneurs are still considering closing their businesses permanently in 2021.

About Ownr

Ownr makes it simpler and more affordable for businesses to start and succeed. We know that starting and running a business takes a huge amount of effort. By simplifying and automating business formation and everyday legal work, we help small businesses thrive. Ownr has helped over 30,000 Canadians launch their dreams since 2017. Ownr is operated by RBC Ventures Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. For more information, visit

Methodology: Ownr surveyed 29,694 of its users, who may or may not have started a business, and received 890 responses in an online questionnaire between Jan. 21 and 25. The survey has a margin of error of 3.24% at a 95% confidence level.