Square Report Reveals that Gen Z Canadians are Leveraging Tech for Entrepreneurial Success [Interview]

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Technology is enabling more Generation Z Canadians to become successful entrepreneurs in the country.

A new report by technology company Square,  Gen Z: A New Age in Canadian Entrepreneurship, found that Gen Z entrepreneurs in Canada believe they have better opportunities than previous generations.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The top-three reasons they are more entrepreneurial are due to social media (40 per cent), young and successful influencers (40 per cent) and greater access to technology (36 per cent);
  • Three in four believe Gen Z is more open to alternative paths to success instead of a corporate 9–5 job; and
  • Being one’s boss is a top motivator for 40 per cent of Gen Zers wanting to start a business.

Despite facing greater barriers to entry into the economy, Generation Z is embracing entrepreneurship in Canada with an optimistic outlook. The report is based on the findings of a survey conducted with 400 Canadians aged 18–27 who own a business or are in the process of starting one, conducted in collaboration with Leger.

Image: Square

The report found that technology is a big factor in growing these businesses from part to full time, with 79 per cent of respondents saying they consider technology tools, such as payment processing, essential to starting a business. 

More than a third (36 per cent) attribute Gen Z’s entrepreneurial nature to greater access to technology and related tools. But they still lack comfort with some of the financial tasks required to run a business: 86 per cent of respondents have at least one finance-related task they feel ill-equipped to handle, with more than one-fifth (22 per cent) struggling with knowing how to secure funding. Some (21 per cent) also admit to difficulties with budgeting and cash flow management, and another 19 per cent find it difficult to manage invoices.

Image: Square
Roshan Jhunja

“There can be many unknowns when starting a new business, but the right tools and financial services can help,” said Roshan Jhunja, head of retail at Square. “Generation Z is one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial demographics to date and Square is committed to empowering them by offering a comprehensive suite of hardware, software and financial services to help them start, run and grow their businesses.”

Some other key findings from the report include:

  • 56 per cent of respondents believe they have better economic opportunities than the previous generation. A far larger percentage of men (60 per cent) than women (49 per cent) shared this optimistic outlook;
  • When it comes to entrepreneurial role models there is a significant gender divide, with 34 per cent of male respondents indicating they looked up to Elon Musk the most. Women had far less interest in Musk (14 per cent), favouring entertainers-turned-moguls Selena Gomez (25 per cent), Ryan Reynolds (18 per cent) and Rihanna (18 per cent);
  • 51 per cent of women indicated that growing a customer base was the number-one success factor, compared to only 38 per cent of men. Women were also far more concerned with customer satisfaction (39 per cent) than men (29 per cent).
  • 77 per cent believe Gen Z is more open to alternative paths to success instead of a corporate 9–5 job than previous generations.
Jasmine Linton on The Great Canadian Baking Show (Image: CBC)

Jasmine Linton, who owns DIBS Scratch Bakery, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, agrees.

“We’re not only more open to alternative paths, but in many cases, I think we actually prefer it,” said Linton. “Being able to do my own thing on my own time, rather than being confined to 9–5, is part of what led me to start my own business.”

Linton is, however, in the minority: 25 per cent of Gen Z entrepreneurs consider their business a full-time endeavour while 53 per cent see their businesses as side hustles.

Future Dibs Scratch Bakery in Richmond Hill, Ontario (Image: Dibs Scratch Bakery)

To learn more about how Square enables commerce in person and online, supports new revenue streams, streamlines operations and helps business owners better manage their cash flow, visit Square.ca.

Methodology

Leger conducted an online survey of 400 Generation Z Canadians aged 18–27 who own a business or are in the process of starting a business soon. The survey was completed between March 30 and April 15, 2023, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e., a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 400 respondents would have a margin of error of ±5% 19 times out of 20.

Square Partnered with Retail Insider for this article.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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