Sunday, July 02, 2000

Small-business diary

Survey finds optimism on economy
        Nearly two-thirds of small and midsize business owners are optimistic about the economy, according to a survey conducted by Arthur Andersen and National Small Business United.

        Some 61 percent of respondents think the economy will continue to expand in 2000, nearly double the findings reported in 1998 when 32 percent expected continued growth.

        About a quarter of the 557 owners surveyed, 26 percent, say the number of people they employ has increased in the past year, up from 20 percent in 1998.

        Half of the small and midsize business owners said they will use the Internet to fuel growth during the next 12 months, up from 33 percent in 1998.

        Other strategies:

        • Alliances (21 percent).

        • Acquisition (14 percent).

        • Outsourcing (13 percent).

        • International expansion (13 percent).

        • Joint venture (11 percent).

        • Investment in research, development (8 percent).

        • Mergers (5 percent).

        Health care is the most important issue needing urgent government action, according to the survey, which said 49 percent listed it as No. 1, up from 37 percent two years ago.

        “Tighter labor markets make employee benefits crucial for smaller businesses,” said John Hexter, chairman of the National Small Business United.

        “If smaller businesses are to continue to lead our economic growth, we must find ways to level the employee-benefits' playing field, especially health care.”

Package offered for environmental liability
        The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced a partnership with American International Group Inc., to offer AIG's environmental in surance products and services to its small-business member companies.

        “Many small business owners don't realize the risk they carry for environmental liability,” said Jane Sanders, Chamber vice president for business development. “And yet, with state and federal environmental regulations becoming increasingly stringent, many small businesses face potentially devastating financial liabilities.”

Business bookshelf
        Here are some recent arrival on the entrepreneurial bookshelf:

        How to Collect Debts and Still Keep Your Customers by David Sher and Martin Sher, Amacom, $24.95:

        One of the most common problems facing business owners is getting the chronically late-paying customer to pay up. The authors' (they're brothers who own AmSher Receivables Management in Alabama) stated objective in writing this book is to show business owners “how to collect the most money, as fast as you can, net of expenses, while maintaining the goodwill of the debtor.”

        Many owners create their own credit problems, this book says, by relaxing credit criteria, ignoring their own credit policies, putting off the late-payment collection process, remaining ignorant of delinquencies and more.

        The rest of the book is devoted to reducing bad debts and improving collection techniques. One chapter is entitled, “How to make collections fun.” They suggest creating competition, keeping score, awarding prizes.

        Cyber Rules: Strategies for Excelling at E-business by Thomas M. Siebel and Pat House, Currency/Doubleday, $27.50:

        The scramble is on to understand and capitalize on the phenomenal influence of the Internet. The World Wide Web is transforming business. And it's in its infancy.

        The co-authors, Thomas M. Siebel and Pat House, have learned about e-business at Siebel Systems, an application software company.

        The main question about books on e-commerce is whether anything that takes a year to three years to write, edit, publish and distribute can be relevant in a sector changing as rapidly as Internet business.

— Enquirer news services


Techno advances move to retailers' selling floors
Familiar brands face unfamiliar challenges
However you spell it, 'dot-com' officially enters lexicon
A family restaurant, in every sense of the word
Feeling like fraud goes away over time
Into thin air?: Unhitching from the desktop
Mission for Mars: music dominance
- Small-business diary
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