Generation Brightside? Square report finds Gen Z entrepreneurs in Canada believe they have better opportunities than previous generations

Aug 22, 2023
  • According to Gen Z, the top-three reasons they are more entrepreneurial are due to social media (40%), young and successful influencers (40%) and greater access to technology (36%)
  • Three in four believe Gen Z is more open to alternative paths to success instead of a corporate 9–5 job
  • Being one’s boss is a top motivator for 40% of Gen Zers wanting to start a business

Despite facing greater barriers to entry into the economy, Generation Z is embracing entrepreneurship in Canada with an optimistic outlook, according to Gen Z: A New Age in Canadian Entrepreneurship, a new report from technology company Square. The report is based on the findings of a survey conducted with 400 Canadians aged 18–27 who own a business or are in the process of starting one, conducted in collaboration with Leger.

While more than one in two (56%) respondents believe they have better economic opportunities than the previous generation, a far larger percentage of men (60%) than women (49%) shared this optimistic outlook.

When it comes to entrepreneurial role models there is a significant gender divide, with 34% of male respondents indicating they looked up to Elon Musk the most. Women had far less interest in Musk (14%), favouring entertainers-turned-moguls Selena Gomez (25%), Ryan Reynolds (18%) and Rihanna (18%).

The definition of success also varied largely between Gen Z men and women, with 51% of women indicating that growing a customer base was the number-one success factor, compared to only 38% of men. Women were also far more concerned with customer satisfaction (39%) than men (29%).

However, in many areas there was general consensus across genders. For example, more than three in four respondents (77%) believe Gen Z is more open to alternative paths to success instead of a corporate 9–5 job than previous generations. Jasmine Linton, who owns DIBS Scratch Bakery, located in Richmond Hill, Ontario, agrees.

“We’re not only more open to alternative paths, but in many cases, I think we actually prefer it,” said Linton. “Being able to do my own thing on my own time, rather than being confined to 9–5, is part of what led me to start my own business.”

Linton is, however, in the minority: 25% of Gen Z entrepreneurs consider their business a full-time endeavour while 53% see their businesses as side hustles.

Technology is a big factor in growing these businesses from part to full time, with 79% of respondents saying they consider technology tools, such as payment processing, essential to starting a business. More than a third (36%) attribute Gen Z’s entrepreneurial nature to greater access to technology and related tools. But they still lack comfort with some of the financial tasks required to run a business: 86% of respondents have at least one finance-related task they feel ill-equipped to handle, with more than one-fifth (22%) struggling with knowing how to secure funding. Some (21%) also admit to difficulties with budgeting and cash flow management, and another 19% find it difficult to manage invoices.

“There can be many unknowns when starting a new business, but the right tools and financial services can help,” said Roshan Jhunja, head of retail at Square. “Generation Z is one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial demographics to date and Square is committed to empowering them by offering a comprehensive suite of hardware, software and financial services to help them start, run and grow their businesses.”

To learn more about how Square enables commerce in person and online, supports new revenue streams, streamlines operations and helps business owners better manage their cash flow, visit

Leger conducted an online survey of 400 Generation Z Canadians aged 18–27 who own a business or are in the process of starting a business soon. The survey was completed between March 30 and April 15, 2023, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e., a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 400 respondents would have a margin of error of ±5% 19 times out of 20.