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TD North American Small Business Happiness Index reveals benefits of business ownership

TORONTO, July 26 /CNW/ - What is the secret to happiness? In B.C., it seems to be owning a small business. More people in Kelowna and Vancouver than in any other Canadian city surveyed in the TD Small Business Happiness Index, say they are happier owning and running their own business (91% and 90%). The research - which examined the attitudes and behaviours of North American small business owners in a dozen urban centres - revealed that 61% of Vancouver small business owners and 58% of Kelowna small business owners would describe themselves as 'very happy'.

"What the TD Small Business Happiness Index demonstrates is that small business owners enjoy a sense of control and freedom that they don't generally realize when working for someone else," says Alec Morley, Senior Vice President, Small Business Banking, TD Canada Trust. "Despite the recent economic downturn and the ongoing challenges of managing and growing a business, the personal satisfaction small business owners report illustrates one of the key advantages of owning your own company."

What makes B.C. business owners so happy?

Business owners in both B.C. cities cite similar reasons for their high levels of satisfaction.

More than any other Canadian or North American city, Kelowna respondents say that owning a small business gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment (100%). Ninety-three per cent say their business gives them the opportunity to volunteer their time or make donations to charities, sports teams and events.

Vancouver small business owners find the same sense of pride in owning their business (97%) and are also able to volunteer and donate money to local charities, sports teams and events (86%).

Business owners in both cities feel they have a deep personal connection to their employees and customers. Kelowna business owners feel a greater connection to their employees than Vancouver owners (90% compared to 82%), but owners in Vancouver report feeling a greater connection to their customers (76% versus 74%).

The benefits of small business ownership

According to the TD Small Business Happiness Index, Vancouver small business owners are most likely in Canada to say that the greatest benefit of small business ownership is the ability to set their own schedule (21%). They also enjoy being their own boss (18%) and being the decision-maker (18%). Being their own boss was the top benefit (19%) for Kelowna respondents, followed by making more money (16%) and setting their own schedule (16%).

"Small business owners tell us that owning a business has many advantages, despite the day-to-day challenges that come with running a company like red tape, property taxes and attracting and retaining talent," says Morley. "If you have always dreamed of owning your own company and are interested in getting started, or need assistance in growing your small business, there are small business banking experts at TD Canada Trust branches across Canada who can help."

Small business owners work long hours

Owning a small business may offer more freedom to make decisions, but it can also mean working long hours. Many small business owners in Kelowna and Vancouver work 50 or more hours each week.

One quarter (23%) of Kelowna respondents work 50-59 hours a week, another quarter (27%) say they work 60 hours or more. Vancouver small business owners report working slightly longer hours; the same amount, one quarter work 50-59 hours a week, but 40% work more than 60 hours a week.

Impact of small business ownership

Ninety-one per cent of business owners in Vancouver and 88% in Kelowna say owning a small business makes it hard to keep their mind off work. Top challenges of ownership include managing cash flow (Vancouver: 25%, Kelowna: 21%), recruiting, retaining staff (Vancouver: 24%, Kelowna: 26%) and working longer hours with limited time off (Vancouver: 23%, Kelowna: 20%). Despite the challenges, three-quarters of Vancouver business owners and 80% of Kelowna business owners expect they will still be running their business in five years time.

Happiest cities for small business owners

The TD Small Business Happiness Index analyzed small business owners' happiness levels by city. This was calculated by looking at which cities had the most small business owners who ranked in the top quartile on the happiness index (they described themselves as a 'very happy person'). The findings revealed that the top three happiest cities for small business owners in Canada are:

1. Calgary (30%)

2. Montreal (29%)

3. Ottawa (27%)

Of Canadian cities surveyed, Vancouver ranked fifth and Kelowna ranked 7th.

About the TD Small Business Happiness Index

The TD Small Business Happiness Index examined the attitudes and behaviours of small business owners in a dozen North American urban centres. Small businesses were defined as those companies having 5 to 50 employees. The research was conducted by Environics Research, which surveyed a total of 1,213 small business owners across North America between May 13 and June 15, 2010, including 101 small business owners in Vancouver and 100 small business owners in Kelowna.

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 more than 18 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, including 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 6 million online customers. TD Bank Financial Group had CDN$574 billion in assets on April 30, 2010. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

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