Small Business Briefing

Boss dangles $50,000 for five-year loyalty

The Globe and Mail

(MIKE STOBBE/KNIGHT RIDDER)

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Small biz offers employees $50,000 bonus for five years; $250,000 for 25 years

How much does your boss want you to stick around? A U.S.small business owner wants it badly enough to buy the loyalty of his employees -- to the tune of $50,000.

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Dan Schneider, founder and chief executive officer of SIB Development and Consulting Inc. in Charleston, S.C., has promised to give $50,000 bonuses to any of his 30 full-time employees who stay with his company for five years -- and $250,000 if they hang in for 25 years, according to this story by CNN Money.

"In this day and age, there is nothing that makes people loyal to companies any more," Mr. Schneider was quoted as saying. But a fat incentive cheque might change that.

Nobody's collected yet, since the company, which launched the incentive offer in May, has only been around for three years. But, the story says, the money is already proving its worth as a morale booster.

The no-strings-attached offer -- "most people think I am nuts, and I am fine with that," Mr. Schneider said -- is an unusual move, especially in tough economic times, but "a great ploy," Colleen Aylward, president of executive recruiting firm Devon James Associates, was quoted in the story.

She noted that two to three years is the usual amount of time people put into a job, especially at startups.

While cash bonuses are common top-talent retention moves in big businesses, they're not so common in smaller ones. And when smaller organizations do offer up bonuses, they're usually in the form of stock options, the story notes, or profit-sharing.

Mr. Schneider, whose company specializes in helping other firms cut costs, came up with his incentive when he realized how expensive training programs are, and also that happy employees make for more productive employees.

Confidence down, entrepreneurs still bullish about own businesses: survey

Confidence among Canadian entrepreneurs in the economy's growth has sharply dropped but they are still bullish about prospects for their own businesses, according to the latest Ivey Entrepreneurs Index.

The survey of 320 entrepreneurs found that just 65 per cent expect the Canadian economy as a whole to grow over the next year, a sharp decline from the 89 per cent who felt that way in the last survey conducted in April.

But 81 per cent expect to hire on additional employees, up a percentage point from April, and up three percentage points from a survey more than a year ago in October, 2010.

As well, 44 per cent expect to seek external capital, up from 32 per cent in April.

The survey also found that 90 per cent expect their company's revenue to grow and 81 per cent expect profits to be up. Though those figures are down from the last survey, which found 92 per cent expected a rise in revenue and 89 per cent forecasted a rise in profits, they are still "bullish targets," a release about the survey said.

"Even though Canadian entrepreneurs tempered their optimism about economic growth...they remain confident about their core business," said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.

"A significant proportion is looking to hire more employees and intend to seek external capital. Both findings suggest that the high growth entrepreneurs in our survey have plans for growth, despite the turbulent economic climate."

This is the third of the semi-annual surveys. The 320 entrepreneurs polled have businesses with average revenues of $30-million and an average of 380 employees. They are graduates of a leadership and executive development program co-founded by the Ivey school and KPMG Enterprise.

U.S. small business confidence edges up

Confidence among U.S. small businesses took a small upturn in October, with the National Federation of Independent Business's small-business optimism index gaining 1.3 points to reach 90.2.

That figure is still below the year-to-date average of 91.1, according to an NFIB release about the survey, based on answers from 2,077 randomly sampled NFIB members.

“Consumer sentiment remains at very low levels and is reflected in the 26 per cent of small business owners who cite ‘poor sales’ as their biggest problem,” said NFIB Chief economist Bill Dunkelberg in the release.

"It’s that extra spending that would provide small business owners a reason to hire and order more inventory, the best stimulus we could have. But confidence is the key and right now there isn’t much."

Yelp readying for IPO

Yelp, the user review website that rates merchants, is readying for an initial public offering, according to this piece in The Wall Street Journal.

On the heels of Groupon's successful IPO, the story says the online consumer-review company has launched plans for an IPO that could value it at $1-billion to $2-billion, quoting unnamed sources "familiar with the matter."

Both this story and one in The New York Times say that Yelp has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. to lead an offering, possibly as early as the first quarter of next year.

Last week, daily deals site Groupon's offering was oversubscribed, bringing in more than $700-million.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

54 hours to startup

Put a bunch of entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs and their ideas together, give them 54 hours, and voila, startups can be born.

Startup Weekend, hands-on, weekend-long events which bring together entrepreneurs and others to share ideas, create products and launch startups, are in swing again around the globe. Several will take place in Canada, including Halifax, Vancouver and Toronto, all on Nov. 18 to 20. For more information, click here.

Ottawa entrepreneur week

The first-ever Ottawa Entrepreneur Week is kicking off Nov. 14 to 20, celebrating the innovators and risk-takers who create jobs. The week, launched by the Ottawa Centre for Regional Innovation, will feature special events, conferences, how-to seminars and hands-on workshops aimed at "turning up the heat" on entrepreneurship.For more information, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Roundup of Small Business Summit

Thanks to all those who attended The Report on Small Business's Small Business Summit. For those who were unable to be part of the all-day event aimed at helping entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level, check out highlights from the day.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

How to keep talent from wandering

Retaining employees is always on bosses' minds. For another look at how to retain your talent, have a look back at this piece offering hiring practices that will help reduce turnover.



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