Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Small business is called the backbone of a community, but there is nothing small about a sector that employ more than half of all British Columbians. When you shop at a locally owned business, you are investing in the quality of life of your hometown. The dollars that go to local businesses recirculate in the community about 4.6 times more than the same money spent at corporations that have head offices far away or even in other countries.
Throughout October, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is celebrating Small Business Month, sponsored by Grant Thornton LLP. They provide some great insight and data on the state of the economy.
For example, a report published this summer provided businesses with a well-informed forecast of how rising inflation will affect costs. Research included in the 2022 Grant Thornton International Business Report, which surveys mid-market companies, showed the biggest constraints are staffing and the cost of energy. These expenses have increased considerably. For example, the survey found that transportation, material costs and utility bills have jumped an average of 18% for respondents. Increases to wages, equipment and interest payments were close behind.
It all adds up to more challenges to a sector that is vital to Canada’s economy. And it won’t get easier anytime soon. The expectation that inflation will continue is enough for the Bank of Canada to suggest interest rates will go higher before they eventually come back down.
Operating a small business has never been easy. It is a pursuit full of risk and requires a tremendous amount of courage. But the rewards can be incredible for those who choose to follow their dreams. The goods and services provided by small businesses are also what create a great community — all of us rely on the retailers and restaurants that animate our downtown and our neighbourhood hubs. And those businesses, in turn, need the support of accounting firms, notary publics, property managers and so many other small companies who specialize in helping create good business.
Of course, without customers and clients, none of this is possible. Over the last few years, we really experienced how important it is to spend locally. Our support of businesses operated by friends and neighbours makes a real difference during challenging times.
I encourage everyone to express their support by doing business locally — and by expressing gratitude to business owners during Small Business Month for all they do to support our community.
To learn more about the events and activities The Chamber has planned for Small Business Month, go to victoriachamber.ca.
This column was originally published in the October edition of the Business Examiner.