5-to-9’ers contribute $2.5B dollars to the Canadian economy
An emerging form of entrepreneurship is making waves in the Canadian economy, according to new research from PayPal Canada and Barraza & Associates. It is estimated that 2.5 million Canadians, or about nine per cent of the adult population1, have embraced a “5-to-9’er” lifestyle turning their passions into profitable side-businesses in addition to working a fulltime job.
This community of makers, creators, freelancers and service providers has gained notable traction in Canada. In fact, half of Canadian 5-to-9’ers started their business in the last three years. In the past 12 months, this small but mighty community reported combined median revenues of $2.5 billion dollars2.
“The rise of digitization, cloud-computing, smartphone apps and e-commerce enables people to work when and where they want, over and above regular 9-to-5 jobs,” said Paul Parisi, president of PayPal Canada. “At PayPal, we believe this community of entrepreneurs will grow exponentially. To help 5-to-9’ers reach their goals, we offer a powerful suite of online and mobile payment solutions so they can focus on growing their business.”    
Canada’s 5-to-9’ers are online savvy and keen to grow
Young and driven to evolve, Canada’s 5-to-9’ers are eager to turn their part-time endeavors into a primary source of income. The research shows that these emerging entrepreneurs employ e-commerce tools to reach their vision of success. Their e-commerce arsenal includes extensive use of online marketplaces and social media networks, demonstrating 5-to-9’ers deep appreciation of the digital economy. From age to attitude towards selling online, Canada’s enterprising 5-to-9’ers differ greatly from traditional Canadian small business owners.
  • More than half (54%) of 5-to-9’ers surveyed have seriously considered making their part-time business into a fulltime career. More than a third (38%) are actively testing out the idea of becoming a fulltime entrepreneur, using this time in their small business journey as a launch pad.  
  • 5-to-9’ers are selling where Canadians are shopping – online. Over a third (32%) of 5-to-9’ers accept online payments for their goods and services leveraging a variety of e-commerce tools, like online marketplaces (59%) and social networking sites (52%). Turning the lens on traditional small businesses, less than a quarter accept payments online3.
  • The 5-to-9’er community skews younger compared to traditional small business owners. In some cases, there is a 30-year differential3. More than half of 5-to-9’ers (54%) are between the ages of 25 and 44 years-old, which could explain why they are more comfortable using digital technology.
Despite their drive and determination, there are some barriers holding this community back from transitioning to fulltime small business owners. Limited access to start-up capital is the main (58%) hurdle identified by this group.   
Women are paving the way, yet pay disparity persists
Women are dominating the 5-to-9’er landscape, representing 66 per cent of the community in Canada. Not only are women propelling this trend, the study revealed that they are more seriously considering fulltime small business ownership, compared to their male counterparts. While it is encouraging to see women taking a leading role in shaping the 5-to-9’er landscape, female 5-to-9’ers reported significantly less revenue than their male peers.
  • Female 5-to-9’ers want to take their passion projects to the next level. Compared to men in this segment, the research shows that women are more actively testing the viability of fulltime small business ownership (38%), and are more likely to transition to fulltime small business ownership within the next three years (47%).
  • There is a striking difference in reported revenue between men and women. Female 5-to-9’ers reported earning 71 per cent less average revenue compared to male 5-to-9’ers. A perpetuating pay gap could potentially hold women back from reaching their small business growth goals.
Notably, 12 per cent of women started their side business while on maternity leave. Women may be leveraging maternity leave as an opportunity to explore becoming entrepreneurs while simultaneously bringing in additional household income. Shelley Jones, is one example. As the founder and CEO of dignify, a Calgary-based small business online store that sells hand embroidered quilts and throws, Shelley highlights e-commerce as a catalyst for her success.
“When I was at home with two toddlers, I was not keen to return to a traditional 9-5 work situation. But, I was eager to use my brain, skills, and little free time to grow and be challenged like in the workplace,” said Jones. “When you are busy with a growing family and building a business, there is no such thing as a set schedule. The amazing benefit of an online approach is that nobody knows if your work hours are in the middle of the night, or with a soundtrack of kids’ chatter. I never would have explored entrepreneurship — much less transition dignify from a passion project to a fulltime business — without the flexibility and robust power of online commerce.” 
Overall, the research points to a growing, thriving community that has organically formed by leveraging tools like e-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, freelance software and smartphone apps to find success. While small businesses tend to earn significant focus in Canada, the 5-to-9 community is a rising segment of Canada’s economy that has tremendous potential to succeed if nurtured.
Complete study findings and additional information can be found here.
For more information on how PayPal is helping Canadian 5-to-9’ers thrive, visit www.paypal.ca/yourbusiness
  1. Active Side Sellers represent 22 per cent of the total Canadian adult population over 20 years-of-age, and"5-to-9ers"are a subset (39%) of the Active Side Sellers group. Therefore, "5-to-9’ers" represents about 9% of the total adult Canadian population, or 2.5 million adult Canadians, based on Statistics Canada population estimates.
  2. To calculate the economic value created by the 5-to-9’er community, we multiplied 5-9’ers individual reported median revenue in the past 12 months ($1000) by the total estimated number of 5-to-9’ers in Canada (2.5M).
  3. Canadian E-commerce Landscape Study, commissioned by PayPal Canada and conducted by Barraza & Associates, 2016.
Emerging Entrepreneurship: Canadian Side Seller Study - Research Methodology
An online survey was conducted by Barraza & Associates on behalf of PayPal Canada between September 18 and September 30, 2017. Interviewed for this survey was a sample of 1,199 Canadian consumers, over 18 years-of-age, who during the past 12 months sold 200 items or less they no longer want or need, or created goods and/or skilled services. These consumers, termed Active Side Sellers, represent 22% of the population, are not selling as a primary source of household income.Among all Active Side Sellers, approximately 4 in 10 are “5-to-9’ers” who supplement their primary income by exclusively selling goods they create or by offering skilled services. The precision of the Barraza online survey is measured using a confidence interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within +/ - 2.8 percentage points.
About PayPal
Fueled by a fundamental belief that having access to financial services creates opportunity, PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) is committed to democratizing financial services and empowering people and businesses to join and thrive in the global economy. Our open digital payments platform gives PayPal’s 210 million active account holders the confidence to connect and transact in new and powerful ways, whether they are online, on a mobile device, in an app, or in person. Through a combination of technological innovation and strategic partnerships, PayPal creates better ways to manage and move money, and offers choice and flexibility when sending payments, paying or getting paid. Available in more than 200 markets around the world, the PayPal platform, including Braintree, Venmo and Xoom, enables consumers and merchants to receive money in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds in 56 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 25 currencies. For more information, visit 

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