Want Your Startup to Become Big? Then Act Big, Says Dragons’ Den Investor Bruce Croxon

A new survey by Sage, creators of accounting software, highlights the haste with which entrepreneurs turn their ideas into full-fledged companies. The survey, split evenly between 500-odd startup entrepreneurs and established business owners, found that more than half of small business owners went from idea to opening in less than six months.

Happily, 70% of the owners surveyed had their first sale within the first six months of operations. Two thirds of the respondents paid themselves in the first year, while 30% were able to add employees within the first two years of running the business.

“These findings highlight how quickly Canadian entrepreneurs are bringing ideas to market and selling their products and services to customers,” said Nancy Harris, Sage senior vice president and general manager, Canada. 

The most difficult challenge faced by small business owners is marketing (34%), followed closely by taxes (32%).  Stretching oneself too thin loomed large in the questions about personal challenges, with 38% of respondents citing work/life balance as a struggle, and 35% pegging time management. A quarter of those surveyed had difficulty managing stress.

In the “not very surprising at all” category, the survey found that startups were more likely than established businesses to struggle with marketing, and to use mentors or coaches, while established businesses were more likely to lean on accountants, lawyers and bankers. Bruce Croxon, one of the hard-talking dealmakers on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, suggests that acting big is the best way to become big.

“To truly prepare for success, growing small businesses need to start thinking and acting with the disciplines of a big business. This means keeping track of the state of their business and using data to support the decisions they make on a daily basis,” he says.

How do small businesses do this? By using Sage as their accounting software, naturally. Other accounting software options for small business include Toronto-based Freshbooks, Xero, and QuickBooks.