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TORONTO, Oct. 8 /CNW/ - Increased debt. Downsizing. Lost business. The recession took its toll on small business owners in Ontario. Yet, despite the fact that the majority of Ontario's small business owners were negatively affected by the recession, 55% are excited or optimistic about 2010, saying they believe it will be a good year for their business. These are the findings of the second annual TD Canada Trust Small Business Survey which was conducted to better understand the impact of the recession on small businesses.

"Small business owners in Ontario told us that the recession was their biggest challenge in 2009 and 34% anticipate it will continue to be the top challenge in 2010," says Christine Morris, Vice President, Sales and Service, Business Banking at TD Canada Trust. "Despite the challenges, Ontario's small business owners managed well through a tough economy with 57% saying their business performance was either on, or ahead, of projections."

How were Ontario's small business owners impacted by the recession? Thirty-two percent lost some business, 21% are in more debt than they were 12 months ago (vs 18% nationally), 7% were forced to downsize their operations or staffing and 6% say they came close to bankruptcy or closing. Interestingly, 11% grew their business despite the recession and 2% grew their business because of the recession.

The impact of the recession is evident in how small business owners rate their businesses. In 2009, only 19% of owners gave their business an A or A+, down from 25% in 2008 and 44% gave their business a B, down from 50% in 2008. However, the majority of small business owners say they managed well relative to the competition with 65% saying they fared as well as their main competitors and 28% saying they fared better.

The impact of the recession is still anticipated to be a big issue Ontario's small business owners will face in 2010, with 34% naming it as the top challenge for next year, followed by managing cash flow (21%) and managing growth (15%).

"Whether it is finding solutions for better cash flow management or dealing with increased debt, there are many resources available for small businesses. Small business owners in Ontario are invited to visit their local TD branch to talk to a Small Business Advisor - we can help," says Morris.

Small Business Week, October 18 to 24, is the perfect opportunity to visit a TD branch and learn more about business financing, business plans, and how to start, grow and sustain a small business.

What does 2010 look like for small business owners?

Nine percent of small business owners are excited about 2010 saying it might be their best year yet. The largest group, at 48%, is optimistic, believing 2010 will be a good year. Twenty-seven percent indicated that they anticipate their business to be flat. Fifteen percent of business owners are concerned, believing that 2010 will be another tough year and 2% say they are panicked, not confident that their business can survive another year.

What keeps small business owners up at night?

When small business owners were asked what one thing about their business they think about more than anything else, 31% said it is the impact of the recession, followed by managing cash flow (meeting payroll, paying suppliers) at 28%. These were followed by hiring and retaining talent (8%) and access to credit (5%).

2009 challenges: projected and actual

In the 2008 survey, small business owners anticipated that their biggest business challenges in the coming year would be cash flow (23%) followed by managing growth (20%). In reality, they said their biggest challenges in 2009 were the impact of the recession (32%) followed by cash flow (25%) and managing growth (11%).

What changes did small business owners make in the past year?

Reducing operating costs was the most cited change (40%) that small business owners made in 2009. This was followed by streamlining processes (16%) and faster delivery of product and services (9%). Interestingly, 35% of small business owners made no changes to their company in the past year.

About TD's sponsorship of Small Business Week

Small Business Week is a nation-wide celebration of entrepreneurship, October 18 to 24, 2009, organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to pay tribute to Canadian small business. With the endorsement of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, organized events such as conferences, trade fairs and seminars provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network and exchange ideas to enhance business growth. TD is a sponsor of Small Business Week and to recognize its small business customers and support businesses in the local community, TD is sponsoring SOHO (small office, home office) conferences in Toronto and Vancouver and sponsoring regional events with chambers of commerce and business associations across the country. Visit or call your local branch for details.

Events that TD Canada Trust is sponsoring in Ontario include:

<< ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Organization Event Date of Event ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards 15-Oct-09 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Chamber Showcase 21-Oct-09 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- London Community Small Business Centre, Inc. Bridges to Better Business 21-Oct-09 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Owen Sound & District Chamber Business Excellence Awards of Commerce Gala 28-Oct-09 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- >>

If small business owners are not able to attend events, they are encouraged to participate in one of TD Canada Trust's webinar workshops. A list of the workshops can be found at The next webinar on Unique Selling Proposition is on October 22, 2009 at 12:00 ET.

About the TD Canada Trust Small Business Survey

The TD Canada Trust Small Business Survey polled small business owners from across the country to understand the impact of the recession on small businesses. The survey was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies from September 8 to 14, 2009 with English and French speaking small business owners (defined as business owners with fewer than 20 employees) across Canada using the Angus Reid Forum. The sample size included 1002 men and women.

About TD Bank Financial Group

The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Financial Group. TD Bank Financial Group is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves approximately 17 million customers in four key businesses operating in a number of locations in key financial centres around the globe: Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Canada Trust and TD Insurance; Wealth Management, including TD Waterhouse and an investment in TD Ameritrade; U.S. Personal and Commercial Banking through TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD Bank Financial Group also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with more than 5.5 million online customers. TD Bank Financial Group had CDN$545 billion in assets on July 31, 2009. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

For further information: Carolyn Abbass/Karen McCullough, Paradigm Public Relations, (416) 203-2223,; Erin Baldwin, TD Bank Financial Group, (416) 308-4061,

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