Vision 2020: Empowered and self-employed in Canada


Freelancers, independent contractors and gig economy workers will make up the bulk of the nation’s labour market in two years

If you’re one of those employees dreaming of becoming your own boss, you’re not alone. Intuit Canada predicts 45% of Canada’s workforce will be self-employed by 2020. This is the culmination of a joint survey with Emergent Research to identify trends in the nation’s labour market. Other interesting findings include how:

  • 47% of existing self-employed Canadians are doing it for a better work-life flexibility.
  • 44% are financially better off since becoming self-employed.
  • 41% are doing it part-time to supplement their income.

So if you feel your entrepreneurial clock ticking fiercely, here are our top tips to get things rolling and materializing into reality.


1. Self-employment doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Check it out!

While some entrepreneurs are as certain as the sun when it comes to the exact business they want to get into, that doesn’t have to be the case for all. Not every person has a reason for wanting to be self-employed. So before you throw in your resignation notice, take the time to build your business on the side using the income from your full-time job as a safety net.

It’s also been said that passion and enthusiasm are all you need for your business to succeed. But being in love with an idea and running a profitable or successful business are not mutually exclusive. At the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit is an innovator who can leverage passion to provide a solution for a market need.


2. Know your local laws

Every province in Canada has local jurisdiction in the legal structure governing the operation of a business. There can also be federal or municipal implications depending on the type of business and whether it’s a sole proprietorship or if commissions are involved, just to name a few.

Planning to do business under a different name than your own? Then different rules will apply on top of existing regulations. There are also additional permit and license requirements at different levels of the legislation.


3. Manage your expectations

The work-life flexibility that comes with self-employment is revealed to be of great importance, but it’s one that comes with sacrifices. Among the benefits that will most likely be missing as you become self-employed are:

  • Paid insurance.
  • Company match on your pension plan or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
  • Paid vacation time and vacation pay or holiday pay.

Time not working is often time not earning. This is probably why small business owners generally work over 50 hours per week. Being self-employed also means you are a one-person show, having to do everything from marketing to fiscal planning and sales.

It can be a lonely journey where burnout and discouragement are common. So be sure to have a support or resource group you can turn to, through like-minded local or national organizations like Small Business Association Canada, Canadian Association of Women Executives & Entrepreneurs (CAWEE) or Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).


Help is already available

Over a quarter (29%) of self-employed Canadians are also still keeping track of their finances on paper, so perhaps it’s not surprising that financial challenges rank at the top for this workforce. Tools like the QuickBooks mobile app can help the nation’s freelancers stay on top of their business finances.

TSheets also found that while businesses track time against specific tasks, customers or clients, projects, mileage and even equipment, 58% are still using manual tracking processes, leaving a lot of room for human error. Whether your business charges by the hour or on a flat rate, not having accurate data to your cost means not having a pulse on your bottom line, and that’s just bad business.

Starting your own business will not be easy. But so many have come before you and succeeded. Ultimately, only you can make your self-employment dream a reality, and nothing is set in stone.


Imagine billing up to 11% more just by tracking second worked.*
TSheets can help.

No credit card required

*Based on a survey of 924 businesses that use TSheets for invoicing and report billing more.
On average, they report adding 11% more billable time to their invoices.
An internal survey was conducted by TSheets in January 2018.


  1. Fred Schrader says:

    Maybe Canada (and other countries) should consider the creation of another visa to live up with this development. I mean, if the future of work is about freelancers in the tech business, you also have to take into account that most of these people are remote workers or “digital nomads”. Why not creating a “digital nomad visa” like “As long as you earn your own money, you can stay in Canada”.

    Could attract a lot of young people, digital natives and future tech giants (who all started as small startups).

  2. Bill says:

    You can see this happening already. One of my clients remarked to me that when she started, they had a full time Controller, a senior General Ledger clerk, an Accounts Payable clerk and the receptionist did part time data entry. Now they have no receptionist, a part time bookkeeper, and me (a consultant). Things sure have changed fast!

  3. Scott M. says:

    This is an exciting statistic since the reliability of working for larger corporations is becoming more frightening and not as reliable. Being able to do what you love and make a living at it is the most important thing that you can do. No wonder why more and more are heading towards entrepreneurship!

  4. Gary Rollins says:

    I worked for many years in the corporate environment and love the fact that I run my own show now but still have relationships with corporations but can enjoy streamlining there businesses, more automation but have the freedom also

  5. Natalie Bonse says:

    I am happy to run my own business, which I want to build to not to be just a one man show. Also I enjoy to connect to other professionals and build an awesome team. I used to work at an Immigration Office and noticed that most of the trades people who went through with their Permanent Residency Application, were dreaming about to open their own business. Since I immigrated to Canada 3.5 years ago and went through all the procedures, I get asked for help a lots and most of the people end up as my clients once they opened their business.

  6. Lorraine says:

    Very well covered. Also consider that another sacrifice is financial security. The move from a predictable salary to an earn or starve situation can be overwhelming, especially if you do not put away a significant amount of savings prior to leaving your job and establish credit and credit lines.
    However, planned right and executed with good customer service, the financial rewards can be amazing.
    I have employed myself for 19 years now.

  7. Alain says:

    I believe the move to self-employment is very strong. Many see it as a better balance of work/life, but I see it more as controlled income and challenges.

  8. Dave St. Laurent says:

    Great news for my consulting business! I definitely see this being the way of the future – either on the side or full time, more and more people I know are venturing out on their own.

  9. Stacey says:

    Already I have seen the change in my own business. With updating to the cloud and partnering with other apps, I have streamlined my
    organization to run seamlessly, with minimal staff. This change happened in the past 12 months.

  10. Jim Brown says:

    This trend points out an interesting dichotomy when it comes to our technological age. The more technology becomes ever pervasive in our lives, building strong personal relationships becomes even more important. I’ve found that the ability to build strong interpersonal relationships whether working for yourself or a company still leads to greater success. Technology can simplify process and help us be more productive but, our customers still crave a relationship with a real person.

  11. I have been self employed now for 20 years and could never go back to working for someone else

  12. Tammatha says:

    Considering the development and disruption of tech in all industries, I am not surprised at this.

  13. Beverly says:

    There is risk and freedom in being self employed. Longer hours and no paid time off for vacation, stats, or company closure do have to be taken into account. On the other hand, variable working hours, choosing one’s clients and projects and the people who work with you are big bonuses too.

  14. Michelle Krieger says:

    It’s hard work but the rewards of being your own boss are worth it!

  15. Gary Layng says:

    When it comes with the option to set your own hours, you can have a very satisfactory work/leisure mix.

  16. Steve Erickson says:

    Your right. Many people will be turning to self-employment when there is a lull in the market.
    The important thing to note is that the very first job an entrepreneur creates is that of a bookkeeper. They need to keep a forward perspective. They need to focus on today and tomorrow, not yesterday.
    Our rock-solid contribution is called “Compliance”. We will keep the government off their back. We will take care of the tax filings and other government obligations so that they can keep thier eye on the ball.

  17. Teresa says:

    This does not surprise me and it does offer a huge opportunity to help small business owners become more successful.

  18. Connie Smith says:

    iIt is important as entrepreneurs that having the right information before embarking on your new adventure is extremely important. As a bookkeeper I have seen too many people end up with CRA woes they never saw coming! Also, using a time tracking app can really open your eyes to how much profit you are actually making. Although I do not bill by the hour, I track my time in TSheets to gage how my pricing model is working.

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