To be an entrepreneur, or not to be an entrepreneur? This was not the question Hamlet asked in Shakespeare’s classic.1 But it is a question he might have asked today. Public interest around entrepreneurship has skyrocketed over the past decade. Much of this interest has focused on the financial value of startups, specifically about major acquisition, revenue growth, initial public offerings, or, as Hamlet didn’t say: “Dollars, dollars, dollars.”2 In our most recent report, Beyond the $ Value: Attitudes, behaviours, and aspirations of Ontario entrepreneurs, we aim to shine a light on the people behind the numbers in Ontario, focusing not only on the more popular conceptions of startups, but on all businesses large and small.
In 2015, we partnered with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)—a global research project that measures entrepreneurship through the lens of entrepreneurs using a randomized survey—to produce GEM Ontario 2015: Driving wealth creation and social development in Ontario. We did it again this year to produce Beyond the $ Value with GEM’s 2016 Ontario-specific data, comparing Ontario against 27 other countries.
The basis of this report is GEM’s adult population survey (APS). The core of the APS is identical in each country: it administers a randomized survey and asks respondents about their attitudes toward entrepreneurship, their involvement in entrepreneurial activity, and their aspirations for their ventures.3 Sixty-five countries participated in the 2016 APS. Respondents were randomly selected and, for comparison purposes, analysis was restricted to respondents aged 18 to 64. In 2016, over 1,000 Ontarians were surveyed about their attitudes toward and participation in entrepreneurship.