Canadian small businesses getting more mobile, spending more on software

Intuit’s 2015 Small Business App Study also finds Canadians are spending more on software to run their businesses than Americans, and plan to boost this in the future.

Matthew Kanas 300

Matthew Kanas, Senior Marketing Manager, Developer Channel & Apps at Intuit Canada

Intuit Canada’s 2015 Small Business App Study reveals some interesting trends that indicate that Canadian small businesses are embracing technology at a pace that contradicts many assumptions about their preference to remain far from the cutting edge of IT. The study defined small businesses as having 99 people or less.

The Intuit study found that 31 per cent of small businesses have an online presence or sell products or services online, which is a 28 per cent increase from 2014. This online rise has been accompanied by a decline in both brick and mortar storefronts, which fell dramatically from 51 per cent in 2014 to 31 per cent in 2015. Curiously, the number of home offices also declined significantly, from 46 to 26 per cent over the same period.

“The decline in home offices reflects increased mobility,” said Matthew Kanas, Senior Marketing Manager, Developer Channel & Apps at Intuit Canada. “It means that the small business people are able to do their paperwork out in the field. Businesses like landscapers, which typically went back to the office at the end of the day for a couple of hours to prepare estimates and do invoicing, are now able to do their job estimates and invoicing while mobile.”

The enhanced mobility is also reflected in data showing that 55 per cent of Canadian small businesses now run their business from a smartphone. That number is higher than in the U.S., where it is 43 per cent. One in five small businesses also said they are running their business from a tablet.

“These small businesses are also using mobile apps to run their business and get their jobs done,” Kanas said.

Thirty-one per cent of Canadian small businesses are now adapted to the cloud, a six per cent increase from the 2014 Intuit study.

The Intuit study also found that Canadian small businesses spend rather more on software than their counterparts in the U.S. – $1,000 per year on software, compared to the U.S, where the equivalent number is $630. Some of that is that because prices tended to be higher in Canada even before the Canadian dollar’s most recent tanking, but Kanas said there is more to it than that.

“The cost in Canada plays a role, but we also see it as Canadians seeing software as an enabler. 79 per cent said they wanted to see seamless integration, to save time sand save money. They are willing to spend to see that pay off.”

Nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadian small businesses use more than three software solutions, 12 per cent of whom use six or more. The average was 3.4 apps, which Kanas said was a healthy number. Eighty-five per cent said they plan to invest in software solutions in the next five years, more than half (51 per cent) of whom expect to spend up to $1,000.

So what explains the increased tech savviness of Canadian small businesses? Kanas thinks while there are multiple factors, including more cloud-based startup businesses as the dynamic change in SMS makes cloud increasingly important, a key one is the result of education, particularly through the bookkeepers small businesses deal with.

“It’s this process of education, especially as we see more small businesses working closer with bookkeepers,” he said. “Bookkeepers tend to be gatekeepers of tech adoption, as they see tech becoming a way to help them become clients’ trusted advisors. The message of time saved being money earned, repeated over and over, has an impact, and technology facilitates that,” he said.

“The bookkeeper and accountant channel is very significant for Intuit’s operations in Canada, and I can’t underscore that enough,” Kanas added. “The bookkeeper not only recommends the product but tells the client how to use it, so they don’t have to spend hours on data entry anymore.”

The 2015 Intuit Canada Small Business App Study was conducted between July 16th and July 27rd, 2015, through an online survey among 507 randomly selected Canadian small business owners who are members of the Angus Reid Forum panel or partnering networks. The total sample had a margin of error of +/- 4.38% 19 times out of 20.