Advancing Digital Adoption Amongst Startups & Small Businesses



New study finds high speed of tech innovation creates time, cost challenge

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February 16, 2017 – A report released today by Startup Canada, the national rallying community and voice for entrepreneurs in Canada, reveals that early stage companies are three times more likely than more established companies to integrate digital adoption into their supply chains and feel confident in using new digital technologies. However, the rapidly evolving pace at which new digital tools are created and updated make it timely and costly for small business owners (SBOs) to keep up.

The majority of SBOs have an online presence (93 per cent) and regard digital technology adoption as extremely or very important to their company’s success (86 per cent). Sixty-nine percent consider themselves to be among the first to adopt a new technology solution. Seventy-four per cent of SBOs use digital technology including software programs and mobile applications to make sales and convert customers, while 67 per cent use technology to manage internal operations including human resources and financial management.

Even though technology has made it easier than ever to start a business, there is still a digital divide: women are 20 per cent less likely to adopt new technologies than men, and immigrant entrepreneurs are twice as likely to integrate digital technologies into their companies than those born in Canada.


Forty-four per cent of SBOs say the high cost associated with researching, integrating, and maintaining digital technologies is a main barrier to technology adoption. The time associated with this process is a main barrier for 38 per cent of entrepreneurs, and twenty-two per cent of SBOs also regard online privacy, cybersecurity and reliability as a top barrier.


Opportunities to support SBOs to harness opportunities through digital technology include: virtual training available to every SBO when and where they need it; and, incentives for SBOs to both up-skill their teams and hire new employees with in-demand digital skills.

Startup Canada is working with industry and government to address the challenges outlined in the report, and invites small business owners to learn how to harness digital technologies within their companies during a series of online events. Register at

  • “The rate of technology innovation has never been higher, and this has created unprecedented opportunities for early stage companies to start-up, validate their offerings, expand their customer base and improve efficiencies. As the speed of innovation increases, these companies face the challenge of keeping pace to remain competitive. Entrepreneurs, industry and government must work together to ensure they are able to do so.” – Victoria Lennox, CEO and Co-Founder of Startup Canada.
  • “Digital adoption is key to ensuring that Canada’s businesses can compete in today’s digital world. Our government is working hard to help entrepreneurs make the best use of digital technologies. This makes it easier for start-ups to access new and leading technologies, creating more successful businesses and jobs for hard-working middle-class Canadians.” – The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business and Tourism
  • Find quotes from entrepreneurs within the report here.

For more information, contact:
Kathryn Forrest
VP of Communications, Research and Policy at Startup Canada
613-627-0787 ext. 106

About the Research

To advance the discussion on digital entrepreneurship in Canada, Startup Canada, the national rallying community and voice for Canadian entrepreneurs engaged over 600 SBOs across various sectors, business phases, demographics and geographies to uncover how Canadian SBOs leverage technology to start, operate and scale their business. This report is the first in a four part research series, and highlights the greatest barriers to digital adoption for these businesses. Opportunities to address these barriers and encourage greater digital adoption rates amongst startups and small business companies to increase their competitiveness are also highlighted. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]