small business indicators from April

With our Memorial Day hiatus behind us, thought we'd start the mental juices flowing by checking out the state of our small business economy.   As might be expected, there's both good and bad to reflect upon:

  • one of the monthly indices tracking small business economic indicators rose nearly 6% in April, with a majority of business owners reporting they expected the economy to improve over the next 3-6 months.
  • On the other hand, almost one-third of all small businesses continued to reduce their employee head counts during the previous 3 months (compared to just 4% that increased their work force).  Further reductions were being planned by some.
  • Access to capital continues to be difficult.  According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses haven't seen such restricted access to new loans since the recession of the 1980's.

How do your experiences track against these indicators?

celebrating small business week and some remarkable individuals

This week is small business week in the US.  Events have been scheduled across our nation to show appreciation for the hardworking, small business owners that represent the backbone of our local and national economies.  All this is well justified.  Besides the fact that small business accounts for over half of all private sector employment (creating 80% of all new jobs), the simple truth is that every small business in this nation is a living legacy to the American dream. 

The range of skills needed to successfully operate a small business are really quite remarkable.   Most start with an idea and little more (rarely are new small businesses sufficiently capitalized).  Owners must be creative with their allocation of resources, always doing more with less.  They must also be prepared to wear many hats :: they are the cleaning crew, the bookkeeper, the HR person, the marketing department, and the sales force,  just to name a few. 

The perseverance needed to successfully operate a small business is even more remarkable.  Small business owners fortunate enough to have employees continue working long after everyone else has punched out.   During the early stages of a company, most are the last to get paid -- if they get paid anything at all.   Most must breathe, eat, and live their business every waking hour  just to keep their companies from collapsing.

Through all these challenges, these entrepreneurs' ultimate success inspires everyone around them.   We admire these people who embrace risk and work to create something new.  So this week, think of your neighbors who are either owners or employees of small businesses.  These are the folks who pay local taxes, employ family and friends, donate their dollars and time to charity, and support other local businesses that make your community special.  Celebrate the American dream by doing your part to keep a big piece of it alive during these troubled times.