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Small Business - A Special Advertising Supplement sponsored by Scotiabank - Monday, October 22, 2001

SMEs 'resilient' in face of worry

Monday, October 22, 2001

As the war against terrorism continues, Canada's small-business owners are putting up a resilient front.

That's the finding of a survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"We think the expression 'stubbornly optimistic' is kind of appropriate," federation president Catherine Swift says. "Small business is clearly showing quiet leadership by not expressing pessimism in these troubled times."

The CFIB survey found that 55 per cent of respondents expect their firms to perform "about the same, somewhat stronger or much stronger" for the rest of 2001.

But they seem to be even more optimistic in the longer term. Sixty-three per cent of respondents said they will feel that way about their businesses one year from now.

By comparison, 44 per cent see their firms performing "somewhat weaker or much weaker" for the rest of the year. Only 31 per cent hold that outlook for their businesses a year from now.

"These are encouraging readings," Swift says. "It is important to keep in mind that not only are small-business owners taking into account the recent acts of terrorism in the U.S., but also a sluggish economy that is always a damper on optimism."

The CFIB e-mailed the survey two weeks after the attacks to a portion of the 100,000 small and medium-sized business owners on its membership roll, and received a respectable 1,323 responses. The survey's findings can be considered statistically accurate to within plus or minus 2.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

When asked about jobs, 77 per cent of respondents said they either will keep their current employees or expand their staff. Only 18 per cent expect to let people go; 5 per cent said they don't know.

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