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Small Business Briefing

Mixed signals for U.S. small businesses 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

"Jittery customers, rising costs and tight credit" still plague U.S. small businesses, according to a report in WSJ.com, which points to a recent U.S. Bancorp survey showing that 70 per cent of small businesses have no plans to add staff over the next 12 months, and 78 per cent believe the United States is still in recession.

The report also says that the optimism index of the National Federation of Independent Business fell in May for the third month in a row.

As well, a Reuters report that appears on the Huffington Post and a report on The Street both flag a new survey from Intuit Inc. finding that hiring by U.S. small businesses slowed in June, when 45,000 jobs were added, down from the 60,000 that were added in May. Intuit's survey covers about 66,000 companies with fewer than 20 employees that use the Intuit Online Payroll.

But Intuit's survey also showed that small-business employers increased hours and raised monthly pay for their employees. And Inc. reports on the Thomson Reuters/Paynet Small Business Lending Index, which showed that borrowing by U.S. small businesses is at its highest level since July, 2008.

At the same time, Inc. noted another survey of 1,221 small business owners by a Pepperdine University finance professor, which found that half tried to get a loan to help grow in the last six months, but banks denied 60 per cent of them, one factor being concern that continued economic uncertainty may stymie their ability to grow as they expect.

Lessons from an exotic dancer

What does an exotic dancing business have to teach entrepreneurs? How to bring in the money, according to Fin24 writer Marc Ashton. He recounts the experience of an entrepreneur running an exotic dancing business who knows how to go after business. It's a matter of the right focus; he offers six suggestions for entrepreneurs to set their priorities straight.

Annual review...with clients

Business owners want to protect their sales information -- but sharing it with customers can be a good way to create goodwill, build stronger relationships and boost sales, says this piece in Entrepreneur, which suggests holding an annual review with clients, just like you do with employees.


The seven deadliest Web design sins

"You only have one chance to make a first impression," says Ezra Silverton, president of the Toronto Web design firm 9th Sphere, so when it comes to your business website, you had better get it right. But many small businesses are still making rookie design errors that are easy to avoid. In this piece, Mr. Silverton and Doug Morneau, founder and chief executive officer of Rhino Marketing in Vancouver, share their seven deadliest Web design sins, and how to avoid them.

From the ROSB archives

Protect your business when an employee leaves

For small and medium-sized businesses, losing even one employee can have much more devastating effects than at larger organizations, from the emotional blow to other employees to the loss of an individual's particular skills and experience, to the financial costs associated with replacing valuable talent. But, as a story we brought to you in March shared, there are ways to mitigate the damage, and to protect your business when an employee walks out the door.

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

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Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeSmallBiz


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