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Photo taken on October 30, 2007 shows Filipino call center personnel attending to their US clients at a new business process outsourcing office in Manila.

ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian small business owners would rather fiddle with technology than hire help, even if they realize they're hopelessly under qualified, a report has found.

Thirty-eight per cent of owners would prefer to stop wasting time on complicated tasks such as website maintenance, technical support, or taxes, but more than half say outsourcing is too expensive, according to the American Express Small Busines Monitor, an Angus Reid survey of 570 small businesses conducted in April.

On top of the cost, more than half of owners are loath to relinquish control of their businesses. Thirty-eight per cent don't trust the quality of others' work and 24 per cent don't want the headache that comes with finding and managing new people.

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Others are simply willing to get their hands dirty; 40 per cent of owners said they spent time on office repairs and cleaning. Even more dealt with administrative tasks.

But most owners acknowledge they can't do it all, especially when it comes to technology. Fifty-nine per cent said they bit the bullet and hired outsiders for at least one task in the last six months. Website help and technical support were among the most frequently outsourced activities.

Small business owners south of the border are also reluctant to hire; however, an iron grip on operations isn't the reason. The majority blame the weak economy for limiting their ability to grow, according to a monthly report by the National Federation of Independent Business. Others point to political uncertainty.

Employment change in small business was "virtually zero" over the past three months, according to the report, which surveyed 733 small businesses.

Only 5 per cent of owners think now is a good time to expand, as the small business optimism index decreased – albeit marginally – for the third month in a row.

Contrary to the pessimistic outlook the NFIB report found among American small business owners, 31 per cent of Canadian owners called growth their No. 1 priority in the Angus Reid survey.

Despite their aversion to hiring help, 59 per cent of owners wish they could spend more time doing what they're good at and planning for the future. Yet almost half of them are too busy tackling technology or sweeping the floors to have the time to focus on expansion.

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