What does a typical small business owner look like?

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After 2 very busy weeks and 30+ interviews across the country, we’ve learned so much about the needs and dreams of Canadian SMEs. We’ve met such a diverse set of people that range in background and the way they fell into entrepreneurship – but yet they shared so many common struggles when it came to getting the business off the ground. As a way to bring the aggregation of our insights to life, we constructed four personas to encapsulate the sentiments and needs of the bright business owners we met:

Marie, the Scrappy Business Owner

She’s pursuing her lifelong dream of opening and running a successful brunch restaurant, aiming for her business to be the nucleus of the community after years of waitressing in the food industry. Despite this, Marie needs help ‘keeping her head above water’ – through her vision for her business is crystal clear, her plan to get there is not; figuring out how best to navigate the unknown world of financial and cost management is a bit of a black box. She needs mentorship, education,  and anything to alleviate the burden of (seemingly non-sensiscal) administrative tasks. 

Chloe, the Savvy Startup Founder

She’s young, intelligent, well-connected, extremely driven, and likely has some serious social media clout on all the platforms that matter to her. Unlike Marie, she’s been exposed to the business world in her previous job and has developed a network she can tap on to bring her new startup to life. However, she lacks support in making it real – coders, developers, engineers to build her product. She has people to please and metrics to meet in order to secure funding so time is of the essence, but the window of opportunity to scale up and build her team is short.

Tyler, Rocket Fueled

He’s a self-starter, motivated, idolizes business magnates like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, and is at the helm of a startup that is growing faster than he can handle. His team is outgrowing their space and he’s having trouble meeting customer demand because he can’t hire good quality talent fast enough. If Tyler had it his way, he would just clone himself as his own support staff. To Tyler, raising investment capital is no longer his issue – he wants to invest his abundance of cash to make some smart returns.  

Mauricio, Mature Business Owner

He grew up as the son of entrepreneurs, and it was therefore a natural transition for Mauricio to take over his father’s business with his brother. Several decades later, he is now the CFO of a successful organization that has been around for 40+ years and oversees ~50 employees. However, Mauricio is looking to sunset into retirement and wants to off board his duties to the new upcoming management that he’s groomed. Unlike his persona counterparts, Mauricio’s growth ambitions for his businesses are limited – his main concern is transitioning to worthy talent, maintaining longevity, and leaving a positive legacy behind.

We still have work to do to make sure that the ideas we came up with resonate with the Maries, Chloes, Tylers, and Mauricios of the world - but we’re excited to refine the roles that our prototypes can play in the lives of a business owner.

We’re about to kick off our testing phase, so stay tuned to learn more! Continue to our journey at www.thed5project.com.


Angie Nakpil