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by CODY STUART on APR 10, 2013

According to the latest BMO Small Business Confidence Report, Canadian businesses remain confident in their business prospects and the state of the economy for 2013, with British Columbia and Atlantic Canada leading the way.

Based on their answers to a series of questions, the majority (62%) of business owners have a positive outlook for 2013. Again, businesses in Atlantic Canada (70%) and British Columbia (69%) lead the charge as the most optimistic.

More than half (52%) expect 2013 to be a better year for business and 45 per cent anticipate their business will grow. Further, a sizeable number expect the economy will improve rather than worsen (34% versus 16%). However, the positive sentiment has waned since the fall when optimists outnumbered pessimists by a 5-to-1 ratio (39% versus 8%).

The report, conducted by Pollara, also revealed plans to invest are trending upward. Small business owners indicated they plan to invest more (28%) into their business this year, up since the fall.

“The Canadian economy has weathered many storms through the recent economic downturn, and businesses across the country continue to perform well. However, it’s important that businesses remain adaptable to change and look for ways to grow beyond our borders,” said Steve Murphy, senior vice president, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. “The U.S. economy is showing strong signs for growth this year, providing positive implications for Canadian businesses looking south for opportunities.”

In the survey, Alberta business owners were the most likely to invest more into their businesses in 2013 (40%). However, business owners in the province were pessimistic compared to neighbouring provinces when it came to the economy in 2013, with just 18 per cent responding that the economy would improve in 2013, the lowest number nationwide.

The BMO Small Business Confidence Report is designed to produce an index score that measures the level of confidence small business owners have in the economy and their business prospects based on a series of key indicators, including their predictions for performance, economic outlook, growth expectations and plans for investment. As a single-figure snapshot of small business confidence, the current index score would register at 59 out of 100 – a slight drop of four points from October.


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