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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


Entrepreneurship is alive and well. And it is being driven by baby boomers – particularly empty-nesters – challenging the traditional idea of retirement, according to a new poll by RBC.

The 2019 RBC Small Business poll, released Wednesday, found 42 per cent of small business owners are boomers, compared with 24 per cent who are millennials.

Nearly half of boomers (49 per cent) said their motivation for starting a business was wanting to continue using their rich experience to supplement their retirement income, while 41 per cent said the catalyst was their children leaving home.

In addition, based on past research I’ve done, boomers are looking for socialization, orientation and even a little structure to their day.  Small business ownership could be the answer seniors are looking for. Add to this, the Canadian economy needs potential retirees to stay engaged, and given their experience, knowledge and our shrinking workforce, this is a win-win for seniors wanting to keep working. 

But let’s not leave out the 70 per cent of millennials who also would like to own a business. Here are the main reasons young Canadians would want to start one, according to RBC’s findings.

  • 92 per cent want to have control over their career
  • 89 per cent want to do something that is aligned with their personal values
  • 85 per cent would like to bring something new and exciting to the market

Before you decide to become an entrepreneur, here’s a chart from RBC looking at what current and aspiring business owners said are the most important steps to getting started.  


Preparing to start a business Business Owners   Aspiring Entrepreneurs
 Reach out to potential clients to drum up business  44%  49%
 Research how to open a business, including seeking advice from other entrepreneurs and business professionals  34%  68%
Test out a new business idea in my spare time   26%  48%
 Save money or pay off debt  23%  52%
 Seek out a coach/mentor or business advisor who can help me start and grow my business 21%   46%
 Connect with investors 12%  31%