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(George Doyle/Getty Images)
(George Doyle/Getty Images)


More than half of small businesses never hired disabled employee: poll Add to ...

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More than half – 56 per cent – of Canadian small businesses have never hired someone with a disability, a new survey from Bank of Montreal finds.

The main reason: They say they don’t know how to recruit people with disabilities, according to 20 per cent, followed by 13 per cent who said no candidates with disabilities had applied, according to the 500 business owners polled.

Among other reasons: 11 per cent said they believed such workers would not have the education or experience required, 9 per cent said it was because of physical or dangerous work, and 8 per cent said they didn’t feel they had the skills to manage an employee with disabilities.

Of the 44 per cent who have made hires of those with physical or invisible disabilities, 62 per cent said they performed as expected and 15 per cent said they exceeded expectations. Twenty per cent said they underperformed.

This comes in the context of finding and keeping employees as the top short- and long-term challenge for the small-business respondents; 47 per cent of owners saying it’s more difficult now to attracted talent than before the economic downturn; and nearly one in four businesses saying they plan to increase the size of their workforce next year, BMO noted.

Canadian startup activity stuck near recession lows, new BDC index finds

Canadian startup activity is barely above the worst levels seen in the 2009 recession, according to a new index of new entrepreneurial activity from the Business Development Bank of Canada.

The BDC index is calculated by measuring the number of Canadians as a proportion of the whole labour force who created independent businesses and hired employees. It found that just over 43,000 Canadians started a new business that created jobs last year, representing 0.23 per cent of Canada’s workforce of nearly 19 million. That’s just slightly better than the 2008 recession “low point” of 0.22 per cent, and the second-lowest rate in a dozen years, according to BDC.

The index finds “slight to modest” recoveries in entrepreneurial activity in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec since the recession, but says the Prairies and Atlantic provinces are “still struggling” with “significant and continuing decline.”

Immigrants were more strongly behind new businesses: 0.35 per cent founded businesses that created jobs in 2011, well above the 0.20-per-cent rate of non-immigrants, according to BDC.

As well, while those aged 25 to 44 were most likely to start a new business, with an index of 0.28 per cent, that’s a figure in decline. Meanwhile, older entrepreneurs have “dived” in: the index for those aged 45 to 54 hit 0.27 per cent last year, up from 0.18 per cent in 2008; for those those aged 55 and over the index hit 0.17 per cent last year, up from 0.09 per cent in 2008, according to BDC.

As for gender differences, the index showed 0.14 per cent of women starting businesses last year, versus 0.31 per cent for men.

Overall, “the slow economic recovery appears to have discouraged risk-taking on new business ventures,” Pierre Cléroux, BDC's vice-president of research and chief economist was quoted in the release about the study. “This is a concern because entrepreneurship is an indicator of economic dynamism, creates jobs and drives innovation."

Quarter of U.S. tech startups started by immigrants, but slipping, study finds

A new study finds that nearly one-quarter – 24.3 per cent – of engineering and tech startups in the United States were founded by at least one immigrant, Reuters reports. That’s far above the 13-per-cent proportion of the U.S. population born overseas, Reuters notes, citing the U.S. Census Bureau.

The proportion is even greater in Silicon Valley, where 43.9 per cent of such companies were started by immigrants, according to Reuters’ reporting of the study, “America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Then and Now,” which was sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation.

However, the study itself points out that the figures have actually “stagnated” and are “on the verge of decline,” and urged action to reverse the trend.

The proportion of companies founded by immigrants actually slipped to 24.3 per cent from 25.3 per cent in 2005; the proportion in Silicon Valley fell to 43.9 per cent from 52.4 per cent in 2005, Kauffman notes.

“For several years, anecdotal evidence has suggested that an unwelcoming immigration system and environment in the U.S. has created a 'reverse brain drain.' This report confirms it with data," Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, is quoted in the Kauffman release about the study. “To maintain a dynamic economy, the U.S. needs to embrace immigrant entrepreneurs.”

Study author Vivek Wadhwa called for a startup visa for entrepreneurs and, said Reuters, the study “could fuel calls to relax immigration rules” as the U.S. presidential elections near next month. Immigration and the economy are key issues in the election.


Small Business Summit

Thursday brings the The Globe and Mail’s latest Small Business Summit to Vancouver. The full day will include keynote speeches, panel discussions, case studies, networking opportunities and more to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. For information and registration, click here.

Meshmarketing conference

The next Meshmarketing conference, exploring what’s next for marketers, advertisers, brands and communicators, will take place Nov. 7 in Toronto. For more information, click here.


Build a customer base before you even open for business

Knowing you have enough demand for your products or services in place before you start up a new business would hugely reduce risk and provide some peace of mind, writes Chris Griffiths in his latest column. He offers a couple of approaches on how to build a customer base so you have enough clientele ready to go on the first day.


Lots to learn from an employee on the way out

Exit interviews with departing employees are not as common in smaller businesses as in larger ones, but can be even more valuable, wrote Chris Griffiths in a column published last December.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.comJoin The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzTOur free weekly newsletter is now available. Every Friday a team of editors selects the top picks from our blog posts, features, multimedia and columnists, and delivers them to your inbox. If you have registered for The Globe’s website, you cansign up here . Click on the Small Business Briefing checkbox and hit ’save changes.’ If you need to register for the site,click here .


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