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Senate budget committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad stands outside of the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 2, 2011 in Washington, before the U.S. Senate vote on an agreement to extend the federal debt limit and enact spending cuts. (Mark Wilson/MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES)
Senate budget committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad stands outside of the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 2, 2011 in Washington, before the U.S. Senate vote on an agreement to extend the federal debt limit and enact spending cuts. (Mark Wilson/MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES)

Small Business Briefing

Positive signs tempered by economic uncertainty Add to ...

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

There were some positive signs for U.S. small business growth, but confidence, and plans, are tempered by continuing uncertainty about the economy.

Small business borrowing jumped in June to the highest level in more than three years, according to the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, as reported by Reuters. And that's seen as a harbinger for the economy since small businesses account for up to 80 per cent of new hiring, Reuters points out.

At the same time, small business hiring was up in July, with 50,000 employees added to payrolls, according to Inc.com's reporting of monthly data by Intuit. It also found that pay for small businesses was slightly up, as was the number of hours employees work at small businesses.

But while small businesses are continuing with their growth plans, they are tempered by continuing feelings of economic uncertainty, according to the latest business confidence survey released by Insperity.

It found that 40 per cent of small businesses are now delaying expectations of an economic rebound to the first quarter of next year or beyond. Just 12 per cent said they believed an economic recovery is now under way, down from 23 per cent in May. The economy topped the list of leading short-term concerns, being the biggest worry for 79 per cent of respondents.

"The lackluster economy combined with significant long-term concers have caused many owners of small to medium-sized businesses to slow their growth activities," said Insperity chairman and chief executive officer Paul J. Sarvadi in a release accompanying the results. "Elevated fears over the national debt, government expansion and prospective tax increases are currently outweighing the natural optimism and entreprenurial instincts in the small business community."

Tax increases have apparently been averted in the compromise debt-reduction package that passed the Senate vote today, but small businesses are still feeling wary about how the deal will be implemented, and what effects they might feel from tax reform and automatic cuts that might be triggered if spending cuts of the package cannot be found, according to this report by FoxBusiness. For another report on how small businesses, still smarting from the recession, have been feeling through the lengthy and acrimonious debt ceiling debate, read here.

Popular video service goes PRO

If YouTube doesn't go far enough for your small business, there's another option: Vimeo PRO. The popular video sharing company recently launched a juiced-up service that lets entrepreneurs host high-quality video on their websites, at affordable prices. Services include customizable porfolio websites to showcase your company's products or services, as well as a host of statistics tools, social media sharing options and broad privacy settings. Other platforms that allow businesses to upload video, encode, view, share and track analytics are Brightcove, Kaltura and Ooyala.

Tokyo gets a taste of Magnolia

The cupcake bakery glamourized by Sex and the City and SNL's Digital Short video Lazy Sunday received approval last week to franchise the business and is eyeing potential overseas markets.

The bakery is largely perceived as a luxury brand outside the U.S. especially in emerging markets in South America and the Middle and Far East that now have a growing appetite for high-end western luxury goods, says Steve Abrams, the store's co-owner.

Today, cupcakes make up just 50 per cent of the company's business, WSJ reports. The bakeries now produce some 60 different products with 120 variations, inlcuding cakes and pies, banana pudding, cookies, mini-cheesecakes and breakfast muffins.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Get noticed and be inspired

Inc.com's annual 500|5000 conference takes place Sept. 22 to 24 in National Harbor, MD. The three-day event brings togeher some of the brightest, most successful business minds to celebrate the achievements of the companies that appear on Inc. magazine’s ranking of America’s fastest-growing privately held companies. Register by August 8 to take advantage of early bird rates.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Dog-friendly office the envy of Liberty Village

While Softchoice's workspace may be massive - it includes a gym, brand-new cafeteria, a large outdoor terrace and special K9 zones - it's not overwhelming (unless, of course, it's your first day on the job!). Watch this month's episode of The Amazing Space here.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Small startup hits Google paydirt

After years of financial hardship, hungry Canadian startup SocialDeck hits the big time. The company caught the eye of Research In Motion, which made an offer, but this past summer, Google came out on top, buying SocialDeck for between $10-million and $25-million (the exact amount is a closely guarded secret).

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

Follow on Twitter: @scarrowk

 

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