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The year’s most popular small business stories

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1. Employer's reaction to sick co-worker speaks volumes. Dealing with employees who face severe medical issues or other personal problems is a challenge for any company. For smaller businesses especially – ones that often can't afford to offer long-term disability leave – doing the right thing may be even harder to figure out. Note the number of readers compelled to their their own stories on the comments board.

2. When social media marketing goes right. Samsung customer Shane Bennett, who owns a Galaxy smartphone as well as a laptop and LCD TV made by the company, wrote a private message to Samsung Canada on Facebook. On a whim, he asked whether he could get a free upgrade of his phone to the latest model, the S III, not yet in stores and included a cartoon drawing of a dragon, to sweeten the deal. The story blew up on Reddit (aka 'the front page of the Internet') and finds itself on our top 10 stories of the year list.

3. Don't quit yet – avoid job burnout with these tips. What happened to that same employee who used to be happy at work and now seems depressed? It could be a case of burnout.

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4. In pictures: Top smartphones of the season. Consumers have more options than ever this year - which means the decision-making process can be tough! Here's a breakdown of what's available now.

5. He's 26, with $60-million in revenue, but could still use advice. In the year's most popular Challenge, the founder of Western Manufacturing Ltd., a company where almost nobody's over 40, wants to build an advisory board to bring more 'grey-haired' experience to the young leadership team.

6. Canada designs new visa for immigrant entrepreneurs. The government puts a moratorium on existing program to initiate alternative that would be issued to people identified by venture capital funds.

7. Five signs you should retire that old computer. If you can brew a pot of coffee while it boots up, it might be time to upgrade.

8. The 50 most engaged workplaces in Canada. The winning companies were evaluated in a survey by Achievers based on eight elements of employee engagement.

9. Meet the free alternatives to Photoshop, Acrobat and AutoCAD. Open-source software is a bargain for those who need specialty programs only occasionally.

10. Vancouver's most promising young entrepreneurs. The Globe and Mail's Report on Small Business hosted a Young Entrepreneurs Night in October at Vancouver's historic Railway Club. Scroll through the following gallery to see photos and to learn more about the entrepreneurs who attended the event

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