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Smiling businesswoman (Jupiterimages/(C) 2007 Thinkstock Images)
Smiling businesswoman (Jupiterimages/(C) 2007 Thinkstock Images)

Small Business Briefing

Small business owners looking up in March Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

For the seventh month in a row, small business sentiment is up, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business's latest business barometer index.

The CFIB says the continuing optimism signals that small businesses have returned to sentiment more in keeping with a stable and growing economy.

“Even though government debts continue to cast a shadow, the small business community is confident that increased government spending restraints will help to encourage domestic business activity,” said Ted Mallett, vice-president and chief economist for CFIB.

Business owners in Alberta and Saskatchewan continue to lead the charge on the optimism front, but gains in Ontario pushed its index above the national average for the first time in a year and a half. Confidence also improved in Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia, but tumbled in British Columbia and New Brunswick.

Planned hiring and wages sentiment increased in March, and capital spending continues to show a stable profile for March, the CFIB said. Also above trend is confidence for planned investment in land and buildings.

The data is based on 821 responses, collected from a random sample of CFIB members. The results are considered statistically accurate to within 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20.

Rewarding the savers

What if a company rewarded its users for saving, rather than spending, their money? The concept may be foreign, but it's exactly what the U.S. financial literacy startup SaveUp is doing with its financial rewards program.

The San Francisco-based startup uses technology from Intuit that lets it monitor SaveUp users' activity at about 19,000 financial institutions. Every time the SaveUp user puts money into a savings or debt-bearing account, he or she earns credits to play virtual games to win prizes. The company makes money from advertisements on the site and from financial institutions that pay for customized content, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

As debt levels continues to soar across the United States and Canada, SaveUp's model for encouraging users to save makes sense. And because it is not a financial institution, SaveUp doesn't have to worry about laws preventing banks from offering prize-based savings accounts.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Small Business ARTS Forum

Enterprise Toronto is hosting the sixth annual Small Business ARTS Forum on April 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The in-depth business seminars will focus on key growth strategies for arts and culture businesses.

Business of Aging Summit: Workplace Wellness

The MaRS Discovery District is hosting a Business of Aging summit, which will offer targeted discussion and practical strategies to improve health and increase productivity both for aging employees and those caring for aging parents. The event takes place on April 30 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Wanted: More clients in fewer industries

Tired of tailoring their e-commerce software for multiple industries, the co-founders of Keyora want to narrow their focus to three industries -- and figure out how to become ‘top of mind.' Read more about this week's Challenge here.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Tax-time tips for small businesses

It’s nearly that time of year again. And so it’s also time to avoid some of the most common, and costly, errors.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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