The Importance of Digital Adoption & The Future of Canadian SBOs





New study examines the importance of advanced technologies in small business owners  

October 19, 2017 -A report released by Startup Canada, Canada’s national rallying community and voice for Canadian entrepreneurs, explores the importance of next-generation skills and technologies in the advancement of Canadian small business owners (SBOs). The report reveals that 73 per cent of small business owners list digital skills among their top 3 priorities. Additionally, 29 per cent of Canadian SBOs do not believe the current workforce possesses the right digital skills to help start and grow their companies.


The largest challenge currently facing Canadian SBOs is the presence of a digital skills gap. The report found that in order to remain competitive and increase revenue, SBOs need to improve their current teams digital skills.With the rapid change of technology, many SBOs are seeing themselves fall behind on the newest digital trends. The top five skills SBOs indicated needing to improve are: digital marketing skills, social media skills, data analytics skills, programming and web development skills and web design skills.


According to a report by released by the World Economic Forum, on average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today. The two problems outlined in the report is the ongoing divide between the study of Humanities and Sciences in post secondary institutions as well as the divide between theory training and applied hands on training.

The 2017 Startup Canada report found that these educational divides are causing a digital skills gap which is making it difficult for SBOs to find qualified employees. It was recommended that businesses consider working closely alongside government and educational institutions to implement a 21st century curriculum that will better prepare the SBOs of the future with the necessary skillsets to build successful companies.


  • “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is definitely a push through with digital technologies. Only companies with these core digital skills will excel,” said an SBO from the Sustainable Energy Technologies sector.
  • “Mid-to-advanced level competencies in digital skills is lacking,” said an SBO working in the Information Technology sector. “There is lots of base knowledge in our work force but very little real expertise and real-world application experience of those skills. School is not enough, we need people who have tried new technologies before in a real-world environment.”
  • “The way customers buy services are evolving any company in our industry that does not acquire basic social media, communication and digital production skills is fated to stagnate at best,” said an SBO identifying himself as working in the Resources sector.
  • Find quotes from entrepreneurs within the report here.

For more information, contact:

Lindsay Bright
Communications, Marketing and Digital Production Administrator, Startup Canada

About the Research

To better understand the digital skills gap present in Canadian small business owners, Startup Canada, the national rallying community and voice for Canadian entrepreneurs engaged over 400 SBOs to conduct a study outlining the importance of next generation skills and technologies in the advancement of Canadian owned small businesses. The third in a four part series, this report highlights the current technological skills gap present in the Canadian workforce and outlines what next-generation skills SBOs need to adopt in order to remain competitive in today’s digital global economy.