Following the publication of the Indice entrepreneurial québécois 2011 this past spring, the Fondation de l’entrepreneurship announced earlier today the release of the English version of the 2011 Quebec Entrepreneurship Index, entitled Quebec Entrepreneurship Culture: Are Our Entrepreneurs Taking Root?. This year marks the third year in a row that this comprehensive survey of Quebec’s entrepreneurs has been carried out by the Fondation de l’entrepreneurship in association with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Leger Marketing. Given the recent release of the Quebec government’s entrepreneurship strategy, this gauge of our entrepreneurial health is timelier than ever.
At first glance, it might appear that being Francophone is an inherent stumbling block to entrepreneurship, as there are twice as many entrepreneurs per capita in the English-speaking community (17.1%) as there are in the French-speaking community (7.9%). However, when we look at the situation outside Quebec, the percentages of entrepreneurs in the Francophone and Anglophone communities are much closer (14.9% and 17.0%, respectively).
In addition, among native-born Quebecers currently living in Quebec, 8.9% own a business. In comparison, 16.9% of native-born Quebecers currently residing elsewhere in Canada are entrepreneurs. In other words, native-born Quebecers, whatever their first language, are twice as likely to own a business if they move to another province. Clearly, the culprit here is not the French language – it’s our entrepreneurial culture.
Another phenomenon identified in the survey: many talented up-and-coming entrepreneurs are leaving the province. Among native-born Quebecers aged 35 or older (regardless of language), 10% of those living in Quebec are entrepreneurs, compared with 21.6% of those who become entrepreneurs after moving to another province.
One may be tempted to conclude that native-born Quebecers are more likely to develop an entrepreneurial mentality after they leave the province. After all, it seems only logical that an individual who is ambitious enough to move is more enterprising to begin with. However, the survey also shows that Canadians born outside Quebec who subsequently move to the province are much less entrepreneurially inclined (8.6%) than those who live elsewhere in Canada (16.7%)
In Quebec, the lack of acknowledgement of ambition as an entrepreneurial quality (Quebec: 19.2% vs. ROC: 30.2%), the negative perception of financial success (Quebec: 40.2% vs. ROC: 28.0%) and the overall aversion to risk (Quebec: 31.3% vs. ROC: 45.0%) are all key factors in a cultural equation that explains what is keeping our entrepreneurial potential from taking flight.
On the positive side, however, it is interesting to note that entrepreneurship is considered to be a desirable career choice by 62.6% of the population in Quebec, compared with 46.6% in the rest of Canada. This, combined with the higher value placed on business success, the open-minded attitude toward failure and the greater sense of competence with respect to going into a business, could very well help to usher in a more dynamic entrepreneurial culture in Quebec.
The administrative, legal and fiscal complexities associated with entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur support system represent barriers for 26.6% of Quebec venturers, compared with a mere 16.9% of venturers in the rest of Canada. Unsurprisingly, financial obstacles, both current and anticipated, remain the number-one hindrance to business creation both in Quebec (55.9% and 36.4%, respectively) and in the rest of Canada (65.5% and 38.0%, respectively).
“Like an entrepreneur who turns obstacles into opportunities, Quebec is poised to leverage the current situation and become an entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with,” said Alain Aubut. “One of the concrete signs of this is the entrepreneurship strategy that was recently unveiled by the Quebec government. Now, more than ever, we have the power to overcome our weaknesses and even turn them to our advantage by promoting a more concerted, engaged approach on the part of all public- and private-sector stakeholders. We now have an accurate picture of our entrepreneurial culture in Quebec and know what we have the power to change, so we can fully realize our entrepreneurship potential, both today and tomorrow.”
Fondation de l’entrepreneurship says that sincere thanks go out to Richard J. Renaud and Luigi Liberatore for making the English translation of the 2011 Quebec Entrepreneurship Index possible.