Sunday, January 02, 2000

SMALL-BUSINESS DIARY


Free home-office guides available

        The Service Corps of Retired Executives and Onvia.com have joined forces to offer a free pair of business guides for those in the small-office and home-office marketplace.

        A Guide to Setting Up Your Home Office and A Guide to Office Efficiency are now available through local SCORE chapters.

        About 1,200 new small-of fice and home-office businesses form every hour, and about 51 million are expected to be established by 2002, SCORE says. Onvia.com offers products, services, tools and new market opportunities to small businesses.

        SCORE has assisted more than 4.2 million Americans with small-business counseling and is a nonprofit association dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses nationwide.

        Guides will be available at local chapters of SCORE this month. For more information or to receive a guide, call the Greater Cincinnati SCORE office at (513) 684-2812.

        To receive free e-mail counseling on starting a home business, visit the SCORE Web site at www.score.org or call (800) 634-0245.

Small companies optimistic, poll finds
        Small-business optimism has hit stratospheric heights, according to the most recent poll by the National Federation of Independent Business.

        That group's education foundation found that the fourth quarter of 1999 shaped up to be the strongest quarter of the year, NFIB chief economist William C. Dunkelberg said in a report on the survey.

        “The economy should enter the millennium like a lion,” he said.

        Key findings from the NFIB include:

        • Hiring plans shot to near-record highs, with 21 percent of small firms expecting to hire workers and only 8 percent expecting layoffs.

        • Small employers reported widespread increases in worker compensation, though raises were moderate and largely offset by improved product- ivity.

        • Price increases fell off slightly from what were already moderate levels, with 13 percent reporting raising prices in the last three months while 10 percent said they had cut prices.

        Three of every 10 small firms reported “hard to fill” job openings, and Mr. Dunkelberg estimated that unemployment would not rise above 4 percent as long as openings stay high.

        The monthly NFIB “Small Business Optimism Index,” a 10-component measure of the nation's economic status, found gains in hiring plans, inventory investment plans and capital spending plans.

        The survey of 554 small businesses also found that inflationary pressures were average and that price increases were scarce.

        “1999 is on track to wind up as the second-least inflationary year logged in the 25-year history of (the survey),” Mr. Dunkelberg said.

Putting family first is top resolution
        Many small-business owners are looking to the new year for some millennium-sized resolutions.

        An informal poll of 311 small-business owners by American Express Co. found that putting family needs first was the top priority of 31 percent of the company executives who responded. Expanding the business was ranked at 21 percent. The survey was conducted by telephone in October by the travel, financial and network services company.

        Other priorities included: getting organized, 13 percent; brushing up on technology skills, 13 percent; staying in shape, 11 percent; spending more time tracking retirement investments, 9 percent; and indulging in hobbies, 9 percent.

Business bookshelf
        From Selling the Wheel: Choosing the Best Way to Sell for You, Your Company and Your Customers by Jeff Cox and Howard Stevens (Simon & Schuster; $21): “A strong empowering leader is very important to an effective crew, because crew salespeople are not self-starters. Most do not want a high-flying career; they just want a good-paying job at a company that's a nice place to work.”

       



Computer reliance less than thought
Just another day at the bank
Record store bolts Corryville for Oxford
Ex-Swallen's investors and workers paid
Graphics artists impressive
- SMALL-BUSINESS DIARY
New-era economy bursts on scene
Danger spurred SBA's boss
Small-town doctor has big plans for hospital
Tristate's priciest home sales