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small business briefing

A man moves boxes in the Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco, California May 27, 2012.ROBERT GALBRAITH/Reuters

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18% of small business owners are immigrants, up from 12% 20 years ago

Immigrants to the United States are playing an increasing role in small businesses, with more than one in six such businesses now owned by an immigrant, finds a new study from the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The study found that people born in another country comprise 18 per cent of all small business owners, though they make up 13 per cent of the population and 16 per cent of the labour force.

And that figure is up significantly from 20 years ago, when immigrants made up 12 per cent of small business owners and 9 per cent of the labour force, the study found.

The study found that small businesses with fewer than 100 employees and at least half-ownership by immigrants brought in $776-billion in receipts and employed 4.7 million people, 14 per cent of all those employed by small businesses.

Among other findings more than half do not have a college degree, the most heavily represented immigrant small business owners come from Mexico, India, Korea, Cuba, China and Vietnam,

In general, it said, immigrants from the Middle East, A sia, and Southern Europe have the highest rates of business ownership.

It also found that women born elsewhere are more likely to be business owners than women born in the United States.

For a more detailed look at the report, click here.

The sacrifices small-business owners make

More than half (54 per cent) of U.S. small business owners say they have gone without a paycheque -- nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of them for a year or more, to help their businesses survive, according to the latest Citibank small business survey.

As well, 69 per cent have used their own money to keep their businesses afloat, the random survey of 750 business owners found.

As well, 78 per cent have taken less profit at some point not only to support the business; of them, 68 per cent did so to pay employees rather than cut staff, the survey found. And 70 per cent said tey have worked more hours than usual, often sacrificing family and vacation time, to keep their businesses going.

Both employees and customers have shown appreciation for such sacrifices, the survey said. Thirty-eight per cent said employees worked additional hours without pay, and 18 per cent said employees had voluntarily missed or delayed paycheques to keep things going. To show their appreciation, 78 per cent of small business owners offered additional time off, 74 per cent gave a bonus and 70 per cent issued a raise to employees.

As well, 69 per cent of respondents said customers had recognized and appreciated their sacrifices; 87 per cent said they had been thanked for them by customers.

For 63 per cent of the owners, the major challenge in running a business was personal stress and being accounable for everything, the survey found.

"Small business owners risk everything to pursue their dreams and are willing to do what it takes to make it," said Citi Small Business managing director Maria Veltre in a release.

On the upside, 43 per cent of small businesses surveyed said they consider business conditions to be positive, up significantly from August, 2010, when only 24 per cent saw business conditions as positive. And 33 per cent said heir business is better than it was a year ago; 33 per cent expect their business will grow by more than 10 per cent this year, the survey found.


Marketing 101

How to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck is the subject of a workshop being held by the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development in Halifax. The workshop will explore various marketing tools, broaden understanding of marketing and help develop marketing plans specifically for your business. It takes place June 19. For more information, click here.

Customer service strategies

The most cost-effective way to differentiate your business is through customer service, says customer service strategist Jeff Mowatt. He is offering a half-day seminar on the art of customer service that will occur in several places throughout the rest of the month. For a schedule, registration and other information, click here.


Language skills give owners a leg up

The use of local greetings is a sign of respect and goes a long way toward building relationships


French keyboards frustrate computer buyers

Speaking of language, in meeting a Quebec requirement, manufacturers are choosing to market ' multilingual' keyboards across Canada, which is causing many touch typists considerable annoyance, recounted a February, 2012, story.

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