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Digital technologies growing more integral to small businesses, says CFIB

The use of social media and other digital tools have become increasingly important in establishing and operating a small business in recent years, according to a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), with over half of all small firms now utilising Facebook on a routine basis.

"Small businesses have come to understand how essential digital technologies are to their business," said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President, National Affairs and Partnerships, at CFIB. "As a result, more and more of them are adopting these technologies and integrating them into their activities every day. The vast majority now see having a website as essential to doing business and more than half of them have begun using social media, up from 27% in 2012."

In order to learn more about how small businesses are coping in the digital age, CFIB surveyed more than 6,300 members at the end of last year on their use of, and perspectives on, various types of digital technologies, with an eye to the challenges small businesses face implementing them.

Some of the key highlights of the survey:

  • Since 2009, use of Facebook has doubled from 22% to 54% while use of LinkedIn has grown from 6% to 32% and Twitter from 3% to 22%.
  • Facebook tends to be used more by consumer-facing businesses while LinkedIn is preferred by businesses that primarily deal with other businesses.
  • Younger firms are much more likely to use social media than more established ones, with 72% of those that have been in business for less than five years using social media versus 48% of those who have been in business for more than 10 years.
  • There was a greater tendency for businesses in sectors that have a consumer-facing focus to have an online store and update their websites more regularly.

 

"We found that the biggest challenge in adopting new digital technologies is that they are too time-consuming," revealed Pohlmann. "They require constant updating and management, so larger firms tend to use them more than smaller ones as they have the resources to manage the tools properly. Also, about a third of small businesses found them too costly to adopt."

CFIB's recommendations to policy makers include providing simple, cost-effective, "off-the-shelf" digital tools for small business, creating a website of such tools to enhance digital literacy and introducing a "digital technology deduction" so a business can write-off their investment in the year of purchase.

Ms. Pohlmann will be sharing these results on the impact of digital technologies on small business when she takes part in a panel discussion today at the Digital Adoption Symposium. The forum was set up in order to discuss and debate Canada's digital adoption challenge, particularly some of the difficulties small businesses face in fully embracing digital technologies.