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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 .

Workplace retirement plans seen as more important by employees than employers, survey finds

Nearly two-thirds – 65 per cent – of employees at Canadian small- to mid-sized firms are "very concerned" they will not be able to retire comfortably, according to a new survey done by Environics Research Group for Standard Life Assurance Co. of Canada.

When it comes to what they believe is important for motivating and retaining staff, employees and employers differ on some fronts, including the importance of workplace retirement plans, the survey found.

Asked the importance of a variety of benefits, 97 per cent of employees and 94 per cent of employers put competitive wages at the top of the list, followed by competitive health and life insurance plans for 94 per cent of employees and 88 per cent of employees.

Competitive group savings and retirement plans were important for 92 per cent of employees but just 69 per cent of employers. Performance-based salary increases mattered to 88 per cent of employees and 75 per cent of employers.

Among other benefits, 84 per cent of employees cited flexible work hours as compared to 73 per cent of employers; 75 per cent of employees and employers cited extended vacation time and bonuses. Bonuses, stock options and other non-salary financial incentives were rated important by 74 per cent of employees but just 53 per cent of employers.

As well, 72 per cent of employees thought regular performance reviews important, less than the 82 per cent of employers, while 54 per cent of employees and 49 per cent of employers rated non-financial motivators as important.

The phone survey for Standard Life, which also unveiled a new retirement plan offering, was carried out among 600  employees and 400 decision-makers at companies with 50 to 500 employees.

Never too old: 89-year-old becomes an entrepreneur

You're never too old to become an entrepreneur. That's certainly the case for 89-year-old Californian Pearl Malkin, who has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to go forward with her startup to produce decorated walking canes, according to this story. Ms. Malkin is more than halfway to her target of $3,500 to fund Happy Canes. She started creating the canes, decorated with artificial flowers, about four months ago; a family friend who saw the canes suggested she turn them into a business, and also helped her set up on Kickstarter and Etsy, the story says.

Optimism up among female entrepreneurs: survey

U.S. female entrepreneurs are feeling more optimistic this year than they were last year, according to a survey done by the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Of the 550 association members surveyed, 66 per cent were more optimistic entering this year than they were last year, while 81 per cent were optimistic about their business's overall performance in 2013 and 74 per cent were optimistic about their business's economic outlook.


Digital Media Summit

Billing itself as "Canada's social media and interactive marketing conference," the Digital Media Summit takes place in Toronto on March 19 and March 20. With keynote speeches, panels and interactive workshops, the summit will look at a host of areas related to the topic, and bring together a range of interested players. For more information, click here.

Canadian Franchise Association annual expo

The Canadian Franchise Association hosts its annual Franchise Show in Toronto on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24. For further details, click here.


Small food shop 'scared' by big grocer's move onto its turf

This week's Challenge: When a large retail plaza opened up down the street from Toronto's Grilltime Gourmet Meat Shop, it suddenly faced new, stiff and large competition. For a photo gallery of Grilltime, click here.


Small businesses that face lousy challenges

Many small and medium-sized businesses offering products and services that might generate embarrassment, squeamishness or a penchant for privacy face their own sets of obstacles, and must jump the extra hurdle of battling sigmas associated with what they have to offer, recounted this story that was published in May, 2011.

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