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small business briefing

Your employees are scared. Make them fearless 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.

More than a quarter fear making mistakes on the job

Look around: Your staffers may look like they’re cool and collected, but underneath that calm exterior, many of them are shaking with fear, according to a recent survey from staffing agency Accountemps.

The survey found that more than a quarter – 28 per cent – said that making mistakes on the job was their biggest fear; while 18 per cent were scared of dealing with difficult customers or clients; 15 per cent were afraid of conflicts with their manager; 13 per cent shuddered at the thought of speaking in front of a group; and another 13 per cent feared conflicts with co-workers. Just 3 per cent of the 420 surveyed had no fears. Could it all be related to fear of losing their jobs?

There are ways to turn that fear into fearlessness. In its survey release, Accountemps offered five tips, including paring a to-do list by prioritizing responsibilities and delegating; seeking direction and strategies from higher-ups to manage expectations and concerns; tapping mentors for feedback; saying thank you to help build stronger relationships; and offering praise to help people feel better and create an environment where they help each other.

In a look at the study, Inc. points out that fear can be healthy and productive – but it can also be the opposite.

It points to a Forbes post by Fishbowl CEO David K. Williams, who notes that fear can be one of the greatest sources of stress, and put a real damper on creativity, energy and passion. He offers a three-point process to help turn fearfulness into fearlessness in employees, including demonstrating trust; focusing more on principles than policies to empower employees to make confident decisions without worries about management second-guessing or performance appraisals being adversely affected; and encouraging experiments, which can breed creativity – without fear of failure or making a mistake.

In a related post, Harvard Business Review talks, too, of how creativity can be stifled by fear of the unknown, and how throwing yourself at the unfamiliar can inspire innovation.

U.S. small businesses in more giving holiday mood: survey

U.S. small businesses are in a more giving mood this year, according to the 2012 American Express Open small business holiday monitor.

The survey of 500 small business owners found that 35 per cent plan to give year-end bonuses this year, up from 29 per cent last year. And more than one in four say bonuses will be richer this year.

As well, 40 per cent plan to throw a holiday party, up from 35 per cent last year. And more than half -- 57 per cent -- plan to donate to charity while 51 per cent will be giving clients and customers gifts, up from 43 per cent last year.

Keeping Small Business Saturday spirit going all year long

Much-hyped Small Business Saturday – the initiative to get shoppers to empty their wallets at smaller, local merchants – has come and gone, in both the United States and Canada.

But there are ways to keep up the spirit – and the sales boost – of the day all year long, says this piece on American Express Open Forum.

It offers eight tips to keep customers coming back. Among them to is create a relationship with customers by capturing contact and purchase history information, and using it to send out information around the year, to build a personal relationship.

As well, keep offering value and inspiration, from tying profit to a social cause to offering the small touches that create true customer service, as well as trying to create localized marketing, whether a “buy local” campaign or really being active and becoming better known in your community.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Vote for Global Startup Weekend winners

The voting is on to whittle down 138 Startup Weekend teams from around the world to a finalist 15, from which a panel of judges will pick one champion for Global Startup Weekend. Voting ends Nov. 27, the 15 winners will be announced on Nov. 28 and the ultimate winner will be chosen on Nov. 30. Among Canadian contenders, Toronto’s Groupnotes was most recently in sixth place. Others vying for votes include Ottawa’s Tattoo Hero, Victoria’s DressBetter, Vancouver’s JumpSeat, Winnipeg’s Buzzinga, and Halifax’s LudoApp. For more information, click here.

Startup Nations Summit

Unleashing entrepreneurship is the motto of this conference, which brings together leaders of national entrepreneurship initiatives from around the world with keynotes, roundtables, panel discussions and more. It’s being held Nov. 29 and Nov 30 in Ottawa. For more information, click here.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Why more employees are stealing from you

Recent reports suggest sticky-fingered staff have become a growing problem for small- and medium-sized businesses, with serious results that can harm companies not only financially but also take a toll on their relationships with clients and employees. One study estimated that employee theft played a role in the bankruptcy of one out of 10 failed small- to medium-sized businesses.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Do gimmicks have staying power?

For a newcomer business, a gimmick can be a helpful way to stand out from the pack. But gimmicks have a bad rap. Read about companies that successfully used gimmicks and advice from the pros in this November, 2011, piece.

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

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