Understanding Home-Based Businesses in the Slocan Valley

The Understanding Home-Based Businesses project explored local home-based businesses experiences in the Slocan Valley.

This report presents the findings from the Understanding Home-Based Businesses in the Slocan Valley survey. The survey was divided into five sections: Characteristics, Training, Technology and Innovation, Business Climate, and Growth and Development.

The first section of the report provides information on the characteristics of the survey respondents. Briefly, the majority of respondents were from Winlaw (30%), New Denver (21%) and Slocan (16%). 67% of all owners identified as female, while 75% of all secondary owners identified as male. Owners were most commonly between the ages of 35 and 44 (34% for 1st owners, and 43% for 2nd owner). Business owners most commonly held a post-secondary certificate or diploma (35%).

28% of all respondents have been in operation for between 1 and 4 years, while an additional 26% have been in operation for between 5 and 9 years. Home-based businesses that participated in the survey were most commonly from the following categories ‘professional services’ (12%), ‘media’ (12%), and ‘art and craft’ (12%). The majority of respondents (66%) reported that their business is their primary source of income. 46% of all respondents reported that their business was growing. Owners most commonly worked between 21-34 hours per week, and very few respondents had any paid or unpaid employees.

44% of businesses reported that their customers were most commonly drawn from the local area. 50% of all respondents reported that the home-based business they are operating is their first and only business, and the most common responses for the reason for starting the business was to fill a gap in the market and due to an opportunity (28% or 16 respondents). Just 18% indicated they had a plan to move their business outside of their home.

The Training portion of the survey found that just 52% had previously attended a training course. Respondents expressed interest in training opportunities in the areas of accounting and finance (16%) and marketing and promotion (13%).

With regards to the Technology and Innovation section of the survey, wireless service was the most common form (60% or 34 respondents) of telecommunications access reported by respondents. The internet is widely used, with the most common usage for email (55 respondents) followed by banking (48 respondents), and research (46 respondents). Just 18% of respondents reported that between 76 and 100% of their business was based on online trade or sales. 24 businesses reported that they had introduced a new product, service, process or technology in the previous 12 months, the same number have intentions of doing so in the next 12 months.

When considering the Business Climate, businesses most commonly (52%) felt that the climate was fair. When given the opportunity to provide some commentary on the business climate, responses included: the low population size, access to other markets, access to infrastructure (high speed internet, reliable internet access), geographic isolation, and low income levels in the community. When discussing the strengths in the community themes of community support, affordability, word of mouth/ networking, and the beautiful location were all mentioned. The majority of respondents (55%) believe that the business climate will improve over the next 5 years.

When looking at the Growth and Development portion of the survey, businesses were modest in the amount of annual sales, with the most common annual average sales of less than $10,000 reported by 17 businesses, followed by $10,000 to $24,000 by 12 businesses. Market share was reported as either stable (49% of respondents) or growing (45%). Projected sales growth was modest, with 33% of respondents indicating growth in the amount of 1 to 9%, and an additional 31% of respondents indicating 10 to 24% growth. 17% of respondents are planning to add a product or service over the next 5 years. 57% of businesses have engaged in some level of business planning over the past 12 months, with the most common activities being cash flow projections, general advertising, and direct marketing campaigns. Respondents were divided, with roughly half (43%) indicating they wanted the business to stay small so they can continue to work from home, with an additional 43% expressing a desire to explore opportunities to expand the business. Sales, Business Technologies and Information Systems, and Customer Relations were the top three issues that could have the great impact on the business. High Speed Broadband was by far the biggest support identified by respondents as having the greatest value for their business among 79% of respondents.

 

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