SME optimism picks up in Quebec but succession a concern

Recruitment, training also top issues: Survey
||Last Updated: 06/02/2011

Given that the economic recovery is still somewhat tenuous, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Quebec remain guardedly optimistic, according to a survey by the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, a development capital investment fund.

The SME Confidence Index rose one point, from 69 in February to 70 (out of 100) in May, indicating a good level of optimism about the future of their businesses. Five questions make up the index: outlook concerning Quebec SMEs in general; outlook concerning respondent's business; capital spending intentions; hiring plans for Quebec; and perception of credit conditions.

Many SMEs will be handing over the reins in the next 10 years, making succession an issue. Questioned on this topic, 53 per cent of 202 SMEs surveyed consider it an important factor.

"Succession was the predominant issue for 55 per cent of respondents, meaning that more than one out of two is worried about finding the right person, be it someone in-house or from outside, to take over their businesses,” said

Luc Godbout, a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke. “The financing aspect of the transfer is much less of a factor (20 per cent) as is the transition process (19 per cent).”

These findings confirm a situation that has been ongoing for a number of years, he said. Fifty-five thousand owners will leave their businesses by 2018, according to the Ministère du Développement économique, Développement et Exportation.

“This number is enough to show that the governments and financial institutions alike must do their part to make these transitions possible," said Godbout.

Respondents overall are optimistic about the future of Quebec SMEs in general (71.8 per cent) as well as about the short-term outlook for their own businesses (77.4 per cent). The majority of respondents (72 per cent) plan to hire in the year ahead, found Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Recruitment is a key issue for SMEs and heads the list for 55 per cent of those surveyed.

SME owners are also paying more attention to training, with 22 per cent citing employee training as essential to improving productivity. This indicator was up five points over the 17 per cent recorded in February.

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